Halfway There

“When you have completed 95 percent of your journey,
you are only halfway there.” – Japanese Proverb

What could be more natural than a trial attorney and an entertainment industry veteran teaming up to start an Internet business in Chicago? In 2006, Mike believed that a film industry workflow developed over the previous 100 years could be deconstructed and its digital “pieces” assigned to artists across the globe. Around the same time, Ross observed that people around the globe were successfully solving problems in areas that were outside their occupations and experience. Over lunch one day, these two ideas converged to form the seed of a business. This morning, almost twenty months after our conversation in 2006, and many, many conversations later, our business is taking its first baby steps.

crowdSPRING was founded on three core principles: give creatives a level playing field, offer buyers choice, and protect intellectual property for all. Those three principles define everything we do.

Creative people need to create, just as “birds gotta fly and fish gotta swim.” We believe that creativity should not be constrained, nor should it be judged on the basis of experience, education, or how fancy one’s office is – on crowdSPRING, only the work itself is important. To help level the playing field, we provide tools that allow creatives to post their portfolios, comment on the work their peers display, and engage in dialogue about their art, their process, and the tools they use. crowdSPRING is a place where creatives from around the world can interact, share their creativity, work, teach and learn from one another.

We also believe that the traditional model for the purchase and sale of creative services, including logo design and website design, is limiting and restrictive. Buyers of creative services deserve real choice and should be able to choose from actual works rather than from among the bids and proposals service providers offer. Why not allow buyers to choose a logo from among those submitted by a retiree from Miami, a graphics designer from Memphis, a student from Mumbai, a truck driver from Malaysia, or a janitor from Montreal? Multiply that list by dozens of contributors and you start to get the picture. There’s a groundswell of untapped creative talent around the world. The explosion of so-called ‘user generated content’ – from Threadless to iStockPhoto to YouTube – is proof positive that people are looking for outlets for their creative talent. crowdSPRING’s goal is to empower this underground, underdog creative community and to enable their creativity.

Finally, we believe that the crowdSPRING community values the protection of intellectual property. crowdSPRING offers many tools for the protection of IP, including free customized legal agreements. We will make it simple to report violations of copyright, plagiarism, or inappropriate content on our site. We have partnered with IPRegistry.com to further help buyers and contributors in the crowdSPRING marketplace protect their intellectual property (more on this later).

Today marks a huge milestone for us. After almost twenty months of planning, debating and developing, we have launched a small invite-only Beta this morning. We invited several dozen users from around the world to help us test the marketplace before our public launch. And to show that we truly believe that there is a huge untapped creative community around the world, we have posted our first public project. Project Homepage grew out of our frustrations with the limitations of the traditional design process. What better way to put some skin in the game than to hold a “contest” to have our home page designed for us? We are offering $5,000 for the winning entry along with another $500 each to two runners-ups.

We hope you’ll find time to visit the Homepage project and watch the submissions come in. We hope that you will also take the time to comment here and let us know your thoughts. We look forward to the journey ahead.

Best wishes from Chicago,
Ross & Mike