When we set out to launch 99designs 3 years ago we knew we were solving an interesting problem in the design world for both customers and designers but we had no idea how big it could be…

In a nut shell 99designs removes risk from the design process for business and provide designers with an opportunity to earn an income from their passion and meet new customers. Today 99designs is by far the biggest graphic design marketplace of its kind in the world. We host thousands of design projects and pay out close to $1m a month to designers.

For the last 3 years ago our team has focused mainly on laying the foundations – making sure the platform is solid and scales, adding in necessary features, and getting our payment systems streamlined and secure, so our designers can get paid no matter where in the world they live.

We have also done a lot of work on the customer side – making sure that when someone visits our site for the first time it’s crystal clear how 99designs works. Behind the scenes we’ve been busy building out a sales support team to take customer calls. Like Zappos, we encourage our customers to call us with any questions – we love speaking with them.

To date very little has been spent on marketing. Our growth has been based purely on word of mouth. We have also never taken external investment – every cent has been invested back into the business. While extremely proud of that fact, we are acutely aware that for 99designs to grow and take the next step that needed to change…

So today, I’m proud to announce that 99designs has just raised $35m from arguably one of the most successful technology investors in the World, Accel Partners. Accel have been around the block a few times to say the least. They hold investments in Facebook, Groupon, Dropbox, Etsy, and Squarespace, just to name a few. Most importantly they understand the vision and challenges that lie ahead for 99designs, and they’re happy to roll up their sleeves and help us out.

So, how will this change the 99designs you’ve come to know and love?

Well, we plan to spend a good chunk of this investment on distribution and marketing, which means more customers for our design community. We also plan to build out the platform with many of the features our customers and designers have been asking for to improve the overall experience. And finally, we will create new and exciting opportunities for designers to connect with clients, enhance their skills, and earn an income doing what they love…

Most importantly, this investment goes a long way towards guaranteeing that we will be around long term. As a designer you can build your profile and customer relationships on 99designs.com with confidence. We’re just going to get bigger and better!

On a personal note, I want to thank our community and customers for your support. I also want to thank our awesome team, particularly Lachlan Donald and Paul Annesley who we locked in a small dark room for at least the first 18 months to get 99designs off the ground. The real challenge and fun lies ahead of course, but it’s nice to look back and appreciate how far we’ve come in a short amount of time.

We have a formal press release that you’re welcome to read. I look forward to organizing events in the coming year so I can meet more of you, our customers and designers, in person.

Here’s to a big year for you and 99designs.

All the best,

Mark Harbottle