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Can you Crowdsource Design Work in Southeast Asia?

How this Indonesian start-up is doing it

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 14 Mar 2017

crowdsource design

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There is an interesting cultural gap in the collaborative economy. According to Sribu.com CEO Ryan Gondokusumo, more than 90% of the companies who avail of crowdsourcing services hail from North America and Europe. Asia, in contrast, boasts of only 7% of the total companies worldwide who avail of crowdsourcing services.

Gondokusumo saw this discrepancy as an opportunity, founding crowdsourcing design marketplace Sribu.com in Indonesia in 2012. Sribu.com offers crowdsourced designs in over 20 different categories, including business cards, t-shirts, websites, and packaging. “Through Sribu, clients will get: 100+ designs in 7 days, [the] first design in less than 1 hour, unlimited design revisions, money back guarantee,” says Gondokusumo of the site’s value proposition.

To date, Sribu.com has 30,000 designers, who have collectively designed for more than 5,000 different clients. Because crowdsourcing services are relatively new in Southeast Asia - Sribu.com was the first mover in the design vertical - the biggest challenge in getting these clients was education.

“We engage and educate our clients by focusing on our benefits of crowdsourcing: trust and convenience for our clients to use our platform to get designs,” says Gondokusumo, noting that they have serviced big name companies like DHL, Abacus, Vertex, Mayora, and Gramedia.

It certainly helps that their pool of designers mostly hail from Asia, so companies are working with people more likely to be familiar with their cultural context. Sribu.com has gotten the most traction in its home market of Indonesia, where it has concentrated the majority of its efforts at client acquisition.

Sribu.com’s expansion plans include doubling down on Indonesia and looking overseas.

“Indonesia has a population of 260 million people from over 50+ provinces. We are going to focus expanding our market share outside Java. In mid year, we will expand to overseas markets,” Gondokusumo says, naming Singapore and Malaysia as their first targets for expansion.

 

A more traditional freelancer marketplace

If some companies are still put off by sourcing their designs from the crowd, Sribu.com has launched a more traditional freelancer marketplace, Sribulancer, where companies can avail of everything from programming and video making to article writing and SEO.

“Our Sribulancer system leverages performance data to make the freelancer selection process easy and reliable – every time,” Gondokusumo says. He went on to explain that finding the right freelancer can be challenging without the proper information, and so Sribulancer enables you to segment them by expertise level, industry experience, skills, attitude, and even work ethic.

“Once connected, clients can work together with the freelancer via our workspace tool,” Gondokusumo says.

The biggest challenge with Sribulancer has not been education, but balance. With over 90,000 freelancers, compared to just 4,000 clients, the pace of growth of freelancers has far exceeded the growth of clients.

“To overcome this issue, we introduced trusted freelancers program to curate our pool of freelancers and segment them based on their expertise, reviews, attitude, and work ethic. Our trusted freelancers will be able to get more jobs from our platform and corporate clients,” Gondokusumo says, noting that the system has increased the client retention rate threefold.

Sribulancer has been used by such tech companies as Line, Surveymonkey, and Google. The target market for this product are companies from fashion, food and beverage, and real estate. Sribu acquires them through a combination of organic traffic as well as Google AdWords.

Though Sribu now has two freelancer marketplaces, Gondokusumo does not recommend that small businesses or start-ups try to source all their needs and deliverables through freelancers. He instead recommends a blended model in which full-time employees and freelancers can coexist and even collaborate.

“Freelancers will not be able to substitute the whole division of full time employees but a team combination of freelancers and full time employees can be very powerful, effective, and cost efficient,” he says.