The Disrupters: Designhill - leveraging technology to take graphic design to new heights
Surviving and thriving amid the presence of large agency networks are the smaller, independent agencies, often referred to as ‘boutique agencies’. Quite often created by former employees of larger networks venturing out on their own, and sometimes by people from different professional backgrounds, these independent agencies are being increasingly recognised for their brilliant campaigns and benchmark-setting innovative thinking.
Adgully’s feature offering – The Disrupters – puts the spotlight on such small independent agencies that have been setting a blazing trail in the advertising industry with their work, their new way of operating and ideation, which have been creating disruption in the way the advertising business is done in India.
Founded in April 2014 by entrepreneur brother duo – Rahul and Varun Aggarwal – Designhill claims to be India’s only and one of the world’s largest one-stop graphic design platforms which bridges the gap between the businesses and designer community globally. Set up with the vision to disrupt the global graphic design industry through a combination of advanced technology and great customer service, Designhill is a 360-design solutions provider that renders services like graphic designing, logo designing, brand identity designing, infographics, packaging designing, merchandise designing, web designing and many more to meet graphic design needs. One of the latest services includes an AI-powered Logo Maker – making quality branding accessible to everyone with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Designhill has over 80,000 graphic designers registered on their platform and has managed to build a huge community of lakhs of designers on social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, from over 100 countries. The company has its corporate office in Gurgaon and a subsidiary company and office in Delaware, USA.
Varun Aggarwal, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Designhill, is a young maverick with visions to disrupt the Indian design industry through introduction of advanced technology. Following his passion for designing, Varun co-founded Designhill in the year 2014 with his brother Rahul in Gurgaon. Varun started off as a freelance graphic designer during his school and university days and worked on several platforms to figure out good freelancing opportunities with credible clients. This not only gave him the edge to perform in designing space but also helped him understand the challenges and pain point in the designing industry.
As a freelance designer, he faced many problems like finding new genuine clients, securing payments, ability to earn consistently and so on. He also noticed that clients faced many problems like quality designers were hard to come by, completion of projects often didn’t happen on time, affordability was an issue for many clients and lastly, they wanted security of their payments. That’s when he and Rahul formulated the concept of bridging the gap between the designers and clients through a holistic graphic design platform.
A graduate from the University of Manchester, Varun has over 7 years of work experience in diverse segments ranging from Information Technology, Business Administration, Angel Investments to Real Estate. An explorer by heart and entrepreneur from the mind, Varun believes in the power of constant learning to create benchmarks and expertise in the design space.
Rahul Aggarwal, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Designhill, is a talented professional having over a decade of industry expertise in diverse fields like business management, real estate, mining, and information technology. His notable past work experience has been the driving force in building Designhill into one of the world’s largest one-stop design platforms. He believes in revolutionising the designing experience for businesses, big and small, and therefore, intends to work towards rendering an efficient customer experience combined with world class quality in a cost-efficient solution.
A graduate in Chemical engineering from the University of Manchester, Rahul further pursued his masters in Management from the Cass Business School, London. He considers his and Varun’s passion towards designing as a stepping stone to closely analyse the nuances and complexities prevailing in the Designing industry.
Rahul and Varun Aggarwal speak to Adgully on setting up the Designhill business, the challenges faced, and what makes the company a disrupter in the industry.
How it all began?
We recognised that brand identity was no longer just a concern for a large businesses and there was evident awareness among the smaller and individual businesses as well. This sense of visual makeover among brands globally led to the creation of unique design marketplace. The much-needed platform looks to address concerns of the designers while providing an array of alternate design solutions to business owners at a very affordable price.
It was only basis this understanding that we kick-started the beta version of the online platform back in 2014. Over last few years, we have expanded the range of design services to include design contests, DIY tools, one to one projects, etc.
On the thought behind naming the company Designhill
Like any other start-up, the initial phase of deciding the perfect name wasn’t easy for us. We wanted something catchy and creative which would resonate with our audience. During this process, domain availability proved to be a concern with regards to the coining of names. Over a series of discussions and domain availability checks, we decided on Designhill. The name and style of “Designhill” are catchy that distinguishes us from our competitors. It has earned worldwide recognition, credibility and trust among our customers.
The Objective & Vision
Designhill is a complete online graphic design platform for small businesses, including SMEs, doctors, lawyers, photographers, real estate companies, technology businesses start-ups, mom & pop shops, etc. Our objective is to provide them quality solutions at an affordable price with whatever graphic design needs they have such as logo design, website design, packaging, brochure designs, and many more options.
We bootstrapped the business and hit the magic $1 million ARR number in a short span of 14 months. We are currently growing at 21 per cent MoM, and we aim to expand 10x within the next year.
Giving shape to a client’s brief
Most of the clients coming to our platform do not have much idea about the type of design they are looking for. To understand a client’s brief, we follow a process which comprises certain steps. The first type is crowdsourcing via contests. Clients can post a contest, and multiple designers participate by submitting designs as per the brief provided. Our second service is one-to-one freelancing projects. Clients can search through our directory of designer portfolios, handpick the one they like, and start a one-to-one project with them on their own terms.
We have also developed our advanced and unique Logo Maker tool, which process the information shared by the client in the form of desired logo colour, target audience, design, etc and create more than 1 million logo professional design samples to choose from along with editing features to create the perfect logos for their business starting at basic price of Rs 500 onwards.
Brand spends on digital ideas
Brands are spending/ concentrating more on digital platforms due to the dynamic increase in globalisation and internet users. Many companies operate in a wholly digital environment, lowering overhead costs and offering freedom to customers to connect on the move. Internet penetration is increasing day by day, therefore, creating an online business is merely a matter of focusing on your strengths and expanding your network. The online platform is the best medium to connect with your customers worldwide as no company is following door to door marketing techniques.
The Pitch Advantage
We are a holistic 360-degree graphic design platform. We can provide designing solutions to businesses of any kind irrespective of their budget or size. For people wanting logos on a budget constraint, we have our AI-based Logo Maker tool which provides logos instantly at a very affordable price. Logos created by our designers have a mark of originality and are very specific to the client’s budgets and requirements. Designers on our platform don’t use clip art or copy other graphics. With regards to our design, contest, service we have a 100 per cent money back guarantee, so if the customer doesn’t like our designs, we give them their money back without asking any questions. Our online support is available 24x7 and one can contact our support team via live chat or contact us form for any assistance any time.
The Challenges & Opportunities
Like any other marketplace, we faced the age old chicken-and-egg problem. Getting the SEO right was a big challenge for us and ranking organically was very tough. We knew that a business like ours needed to rank on Google to do well, we eventually figured out that we have to create content that is unique, high quality, and extremely shareable.
We also had to get the right number of designers on the supply side, who could fulfil all the design needs for our clients. Simultaneously, we had to ensure they were providing quality, on-time delivery and were able to rely on Designhill as a regular source of income.
On the buyer side, we had to convince our prospective clients that we were a credible business, as we're an Indian start-up, and most of our clients were from the US, Australia, the UK, and Canada. It took time, but today we have great reviews for our services on renowned review sites like TrustedCompany, TrustPilot, etc.
Big data, programmatic, AI and social media – where is it all headed?
Big data, programmatic, AI and social media are the futuristic approach of our society. Digitalisation, internet penetration and advancement in information technology have transformed the overall market dynamic across the globe. By the use of digital tools, we can get the work done free from errors and increase our efficiency. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are set to grow at an enormous scale in the coming future. We have a highly talented team and we have aligned ourselves with the pace of technology to serve the people.
How do the next 5 years look like?
Our end goal is that when someone thinks about sourcing a graphic design (no matter what kind), Designhill is the name that pops into their heads. The online graphic design industry is growing at a very rapid pace, much faster than the offline graphic design industry, and there’s still no ‘Google’ or ‘Amazon’ in this space. We want to own the design space both in India as well as globally.
We plan to roll out a multi-lingual/ multi-currency website sometime this year and that should be a game-changer. Although we are based out of India, we are a global platform, so we need to have a presence in every country in their local language and currency. Once we've successfully achieved that, we should have a much wider footprint and presence.
Has it all been worth it?
We have been through a lot of highs and lows, but it has been an exciting journey. We had many new learnings at every step we took and somehow that was worth it. We started Designhill at a very early stage of our career and being a disruptor in the graphic design space, there was no one to help us. We had our set of setbacks, but we were also determined to find the solutions to every problem on our own. We slowly grew the business by offering other design services under the umbrella of graphic design such as logo designing, website designing, brochure designing, and many more. Today, we rank as top 3 in the US market and aim to strengthen our hold in India. We have a strong global network of over 100,000 designers from across 150 + countries, including Australia, South America, Canada, India, etc. We are working hard every day to set new benchmarks in the coming years.