A Chat With Jason Sew Hoy, COO of Design Marketplace Startup, 99Designs

Rama Mamuaya - 19 June 2013

Indonesia is a goldmine for companies looking for tech talents. Tons of companies are opening up in Indonesia to get their hands to the engineers and designers. Companies such as even launched an Indonesian version sometime ago, together with some local players such as Sribu, Gantibaju and Gobann. This is seen as a big opportunity for 99designs.

99designs, the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace, connects businesses looking for design work with more than 225,000 graphic designers from around the world. Founded in 2008, 99designs has hosted more than 210,000 design contests for customers and has paid out $53,000,000 USD to its design community. The company secured $35M in first­ round funding in 2011 from Silicon­Valley based Accel Partners and several angel investors.

DailySocial got the chance to talk to Jason Sew Hoy, an early member of 99designs and has been instrumental in the company's rapid 5­ year growth and global expansion. Jason is now the Chief Operating Officer and Asia­Pacific General Manager for 99designs and we'll be talking about Indonesia in the eyes of 99designs, freelancing market and of course, their competition.


So Jason, how do you see SEA market especially Indonesia?

It’s an exciting time for SEA right now. From recent visits, we can tell there is a real vibrancy developing in the startup and freelancing space. Our community team Director Jason Aiken and a team of designer community liaisons have just returned from a two-week tour of Indonesia and the Philippines, where they hosted numerous design events reaching thousands of designers, including a full-day National Conference for Indonesian designers in Yogyakarta on June 7. The sheer talent and passion displayed by our Indonesian and Filipino designers was incredible.

I have just returned from a trip to Singapore where we launched a localised version of our site It was great to be part of both CrowdSourcing Week and Echelon as well as other events like StartUp Grind Singapore. It’s pretty clear to us that the startup space in Asia is really growing in leaps and bounds!

Among the competition in the region, how do you see 99designs can prevail?

99designs is the original and by far the largest global online graphic design marketplace. We’ve paid out over USD $54,000,000 to our community of over 225,000 designers from 192 countries.

South East Asia has always been an important market for us and we’ve actually been building up a strong following of customers and designers from SEA since 2008.

What was really eye-opening about our recent trip to Singapore is how many people had already heard of 99designs and had used us before to get their logos, business cards or websites designed. We’re proud of the strong word-of-mouth growth that we’ve experienced in Asia and that’s because we focus on creating the best possible experience for our customers and designers. Last year we launched a localised version of 99designs in Hong Kong and have seen 100% year-on-year growth since, which we’re really excited by.

In terms of the design community, we’ve already paid out more than USD $10,000,000 to designers in Indonesia and the Philippines alone, more than any other design marketplace has paid out globally!

What is 99designs' strategy to enter markets in SEA especially Indonesia?

Because is a global marketplace, we’re always been accessible from any country in the world. However for key markets that we identify, like Hong Kong and now Singapore, we invest in making our service more convenient for people to use, accepting payment in local currency and offering a local phone number with in-time zone support staff.

In addition, 99designs is currently available in 6 different languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch). Asian languages are definitely a strong consideration for the future.

How do you see the freelancing market in the region say in 2 years?

It’s only going to get bigger! Freelancing, particular via the web, is still in its infancy and growth in demand has been spectacular in recent years. Customers all over the world are seeing sites like 99designs as a revolutionary new way to tap into a global, scalable resource pool of talent, with any design skill available on-demand, at an affordable price.

As the demand grows from customers in SEA and globally, that will only create more opportunities for SEA designers and, if history is anything to go by, the talented designers in this region are well positioned to capitalize.

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