With its design contest model, 99designs seems to have set the example that other services either mimic or push back against. Now it’s launching a new site, Swiftly, with a new approach for smaller jobs.
CEO Patrick Llewellyn told me that Swiftly was built to address a need that many existing customers have, one that isn’t well-served in the existing 99designs model: “Hey, I’ve already got a design, but I want to update it.” That can include things like altering a logo, editing a business card, retouching a photo, and more — where it’s less about finding the absolute best person and more about working with someone who can do the job competently, quickly and affordably.
With Swiftly, you just enter a short description of the work you’re looking for, upload the relevant asset, and the site will match you with a designer who can get the work done that day. You pay a flat $15 fee for the job.
Llewelyn said that in order to make this possible, 99designs has picked out a smaller group of reliable designers from its larger community, with geographic/time zone coverage meaning that customers should get a prompt response no matter when they post a job. The company says that in early tests, the average turnaround was 20 minutes.
“The magic happens behind the scenes, where we’re actually dealing with thousands of design files and getting them out in front of the right designers at the right time,” Llewelyn said.
As for why designers would want to do these small jobs, he added that this can provide “a consistent stream of work,” giving designers “an income stream that they can bank on whilst they’re in between jobs.”
It sounds like we might see 99designs doing more in this vein. Llewelyn argued that while the site is a great place for finding designers initially, it doesn’t offer any tools for customers who actually wanted to build a relationship once they found a designer they liked. “We were basically forcing them off the platform.” So over time, 99designs will be launching more features around that relationship: “Whilst that’s a reasonably narrow focus, there’s so much variation in the work that people need to get done.”
99designs says it has hosted 230,000 contests to date, and that there are 240,000 registered designers on the site. (Just to be clear: These stats are about 99designs as a whole, not Swiftly.) The company raised a $35 million round from Accel Partners two years ago.