Australian crowdsourcing marketplace DesignCrowd just took a big step in its global growth strategy.
After taking on an extra $6 million in funding earlier this year from AirTree Ventures and Starfish Ventures, the startup today launched a translation tool which makes it easier for designers in non-English speaking countries to understand briefs.
The tool translates company design briefs for logos, website design, poster design, icon design and lots more, into either German, Spanish, French, Hindi or Portuguese.
The platform now has more than 450,000 designers registered across 165 countries, many of which aren’t English-speaking.
DesignCrowd co-founder and CTO Adam Arbolino said ensuring the platform was able to be used easily across various languages was one thing the startup needed to do to improve its international presence.
“We’re a completely online business and our crowdsourcing model allows people from around the world to get, buy and sell design work through our marketplace. Whether you’re a business or a designer, we want to make design accessible from anywhere in the world, and in any language,” he said.
“We’re still in the early stages of adapting DesignCrowd’s platform to allow people from any background to be able to use it comfortably. The Translation Tool is automated and scalable, and will help us further improve the offering.”
Since launching in 2008, DesignCrowd has raised more than $12 million and is looking at what other language support tools it can build to improve the platform’s take-up around the world.
“The vision is about getting the best ideas from designers and creatives around the world and this is part of that discovery of designers regardless of where they are or what their main language is,” he said, adding, “It’s allowing us to unlock different regions.”
Arbolino says the next two years will be about scaling the business – a task which comes with its own set of challenges.
“To properly scale globally you need to have a platform which can scale,” he said.
“Part of that challenge of growing a global business is having 24/7 support, which is another area we’ve invested in.
“For the last 12 to 24 months we’ve been actively focused on improving the core product.”
DesignCrowd recently opened up an office in San Francisco and fellow co-founder Alec Lynch has been spending a lot of time on the ground ensuring the right culture is established and the right people are hired.
The company’s core management will stay in Sydney, where DesignCrowd has about 25 employees, for the time being. It also has a customer support office in Manila.
But Arbolino says opening offices around the world doesn’t mean it’s scaling globally.
“For me, scaling globally is pushing the product into new regions and markets,” he said, adding the startup has been focusing on attracting designers from new areas so there are always people available to complete a project no matter what time of day someone requests it.
“Opening an office in a region is because you need to get people on the ground to promote the product, develop partnerships and connect with customers… We have the ability to establish relationships where previously it was difficult to establish relationships when you’re on the other side of the world.”
The other expansion issue Arbolino has had to think about was growing the right team.
“The next stage of this business is continuing that growth by prioritising and investing in the right areas,” he said.
“We are going through a growth stage where we are bringing in core members to grow that team. As you add new members to the team, people who were wearing multiple hats, you’re taking some of those hats off…so you have members who are dedicated to core roles and core skill sets.”
Last year, the total value of designer projects on the site hit $20 million and it’s hoping to double that in 2015.