Interview with Mark Harbottle, 99designs cofounder

Here is an excerpt of the recent interview Chris McConnell of did with co-founder Mark Harbottle. You can read the whole interview here.

Freelance Review: How did 99designs get started?

Mark Harbottle: 99designs was originally started by designers in the SitePoint forums who were playing ‘photoshop tennis’ – practicing their skills by making up projects and then competing to see who could create the best design. Then a smart entrepreneur came along and suggested that rather than making up the projects why not design his logo and he would pay the winner a cash prize. It was an instant hit -more and more projects got posted each day and more designers joined in on the action. We finally built a platform around it and spun it out into


FR: 99designs has been featured in Good Morning America, Fast Company and the New York Times among other publications. Why do you think 99designs has generated so much interest?

MH: I guess there are a number of reasons but the chief one being a unique model that provides a real value to both the client and the designer.

On the client side – design is often very intimidating and very risky for the average small business owner. 99designs helps reduce that uncertainty by allowing them to connect with a number of designers all at once and really see exactly what they will get.

On the designer side – It’s all about creating opportunity and building client relationships. First, 99designs exposes designers to a ton of projects that they would not normally have been exposed to -it could be a book cover for a New York Times best selling author or a logo for a small cafe owner half way across the world.

Second, it allows designers to save time marketing themselves and focus on what they do best – designing. A designer may be extremely talented but a terrible salesperson – 99designs enables designers to stop knocking doors and writing proposals and start designing.

The best part is, once a designer wins a project, – they now have a qualified relationship with that client that often leads to additional follow on work. And for the designer who is just starting out, its a great way to build your portfolio and work on real projects for real clients and potentially earn some real cash.

The author

Jason Aiken
Jason Aiken

Jason Aiken is the Community Director of 99designs.


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