Now 27, Matt started his first business, SitePoint.com, in high school, making deals by phone between periods and returning to class thousands of dollars richer from one bell to the next. I am not exaggerating.
While Mickeiwicz may not exactly be a household name, the Canadian entrepreneur’s second business, 99designs.com has done for graphic design what Expedia has done to the travel industry – offering an alternative that is both user-friendly and affordable.
Do you like my logo? It was designed by a young girl in Singapore through 99designs! $250. No kidding.
99designs invites designers from all over the world to compete for your business – logo, letterhead, web design, etc. – at a discounted rate almost anyone could afford. In this way designers who would not have an opportunity to show their work can build a portfolio, and those of us who don’t have thousands to spend on graphic design can get going without going broke.
But what I find most fascinating about 99designs, as revealed in his interview, is that it was conceived by accident!
Just how successful is it? In the outrageously entertaining video below his partner, Mark Harbottle, and his staff celebrate their winning of the highly coveted ‘Webby People’s Choice Award’ earlier this year. Does it look like they’re having fun??
The Interview – Matt Mickiewicz
Whether or not you are web-savvy, you will be inspired by the energy, innovation, and ambition of this young visionary. ‘Give-a-Listen’ (20:35):
From the start, one of the most striking things about Matt is his confidence. He has accomplished at a young age more than most people will accomplish in a lifetime and yet his manner is simple and friendly, his explanations, straight forward.
He talks openly about the ‘discovery’ of 99designs as a viable business opportunity (1:00), experimentation with different price points (3:00), growing pains (4:00), and his greatest personal accomplishment to date (18:00).
But the most interesting part of the interview, to me, was Matt’s unapologetic answer to critics who say that ‘crowdsourcing’ companies like 99designs put a lot of highly trained graphic designers out of work. (9:00) This, even as he admits his company is ‘very disruptive’ to the industry. What 99designs has really done, Mickiewicz says, is level the playing field so all artists will be judged by their work, not the location of their office or their contacts within a PR firm. (10:30)
Whether or not you agree with the business model, you can’t argue with its success. 99designs has, to date, paid out more than $13 million to more than 75,000 designers worldwide.
Did I mention that Matt has started a 3rd company? Flippa.com, another offshoot of SitePoint, buys and sells websites. Wonder what he’ll do in his 30s?
The ParmFarm is about growing. And often that means recognizing opportunity and embracing change. Matt Mickiewicz has been able to do both.
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