Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey there! I'm Eva Maganja, and I started Designproof with my partner Urban Bradesko about 6 months ago. Before that, I was a founder of two different startups, so I know how hard it can be to get everything done when you're just starting out. That's why we started Designproof - Our goal was to create a design agency that makes it easy for other founders to get the design solutions they need to succeed.
We specialize in providing design solutions for businesses and startups, helping them to create engaging, user-friendly experiences for their customers at affordable fixed monthly rates.
We started this agency because I was frustrated with other design agencies that wouldn't tell me their prices until I had a call with them. Then, I found out they charged per hour or per word for copywriting, and I never even got to talk to the actual designer!
On top of all that, I noticed that all of the designs in their portfolios looked the same. It didn't look like they were customizing their designs for each client. I knew that wasn't the right decision for me or for other founders who were just starting out.
That's why we have a fixed monthly rate for our services and you get to work directly with our designers. We offer the perfect solution for startups that need top-notch design, fast iterations (with a 1-2 day turnaround), and a fixed monthly rate.
But here's the really exciting part: we offer UNLIMITED design requests. That's right, unlimited! We know that as a startup, you want to try things out and figure out what works for you. I understand that startups often have limited budgets, and we want to make sure that we're offering a solution that's both affordable and effective.
And our approach is working - after just 6 months, we're already making 15k per month with just two employees! It's been amazing to see our hard work pay off and to see our client's businesses succeed with the designs we've created for them.
When we first opened the agency, we immediately got two clients in our first week - which was a huge boost of confidence and a sign that we were doing something right.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I studied design in high school and worked as a 2D and 3D artist in the video games industry. I've always loved design and have a real passion for telling stories and evoking emotions through design.
Urban is a total pro when it comes to video production and 3D art. He's been doing this stuff since he was in high school, and after raduated, he started his video studio in Slovenia.
Since then, he's created some seriously amazing videos that show off his incredible talent and creativity. And on top of that, he's become a real whiz at 3D art too - he can take even the craziest ideas and turn them into stunning, life-like designs.
Honestly, I feel super lucky to be working alongside someone as talented and passionate as Urban. He's always pushing the boundaries and coming up with new and exciting ideas, and I'm constantly blown away by his work.
One approach that's worked well for me is to focus on learning the basics of different areas, even if they're not directly related to my field.
As a two-time startup founder, I and my partner Urban do all of the designs, websites, and content together. People were always really impressed with our work and would ask if we are availablere.
One project that stands out is our work for a:musé where we mostly did everything ourselves.
Urban was in charge of visuals( pictures, 3D, video, content…) And I created branding and the website.
And one of many videos created for a:musé:
I had many "aha" moments, actually - haha! There were the big two ones:
My first "aha" moment happened when a friend of mine who was starting her own business hired a design agency to create her branding and packaging designs. But the experience was a total disaster. The agency charged her by the hour, and when she asked for a color palette, it took them 3 days to send her 20 different shades and told her to pick two.
And when she finally got a packaging design from them, it was nothing like what she'd asked for. They spent 14 whole days on it, and the bill was really high - especially considering she didn't even like the design, and they didn't seem interested in fixing it.
My second "aha" moment came when I was searching for an agency to delegatme of my desilikeial media management w k for my startup. It felt shady like none of the agencies had time for me at all. Just to get an idea of their pricing, I had to go on a call with them - and almost 70% of them mentioned that I would only have two revisions, which would cost more than their usual hourly rate. It was completely ridiculous and made no sense to me.
When we did hire one agency, it was a nightmare. I felt like I became their manager, constantly asking how mas they had spent on the work instead of focusing odirectlygns and what I wanted. The process was really slow, as I wasn't talking directly to the designer. And it didn't even feel like they had spent that much time on the work that I received.
It felt like I was paying more just because they were slow or wanted to just ‘’put in the hours’’ - but as a startup founder, time is the most important thing. I would rather spend more to get the design done in a couple of hours than wait seven days.
In the end, when I was getting frustrated, I took their designs and made much better fixes and results in just two hours. In the end, they even asked me if I was available to work for them - True story I wish I could make this up.
After so many other startup founders asked me to make designs for them, I decided to create my own website and give it a shot. My other two companies were self-sustaining, so they didn't need all of my attention anymore. I spent less than a week creating the branding, logo, and website for my design agency.
And wouldn't you know it - we got two clients right away in our very first week of opening! We haven't spent any money on advertising; most of our clients come from word of mouth. And they're all really happy with our work!
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
I'm pretty familiar with the whole process of building a startup now. And when it came to starting my design agency, everything just fell into place.
The first thing I wanted to tackle was the problem with hourly rates and poor communication between designers and clients. I figured the most obvious solution was to offer a fixed monthly rate and let clients talk directly with their designers. Simple, right?
It's important to keep in mind that failure is a natural part of the process, so don't be discouraged if your initial attempts don't succeed.
Next up was creating the branding. I wanted to use warm, inviting colors with gradients, so I created the wholeagentswo days. For the website, I wanted everythianythingbe super easy. I didn't want clients to waste their time searching for hidden pages or booking calls or anything like that. So, I designed the website to be as easy to navigate as possible. And in less than a week, I had a website up and running. I spent 168$ on the webflow subscription and that was it!
The website and business were up and running it 20 days!
My main focus was on helping startups and medium-sized businesses. I reached out to some friends and showed them what my new agency was all about. And wouldn't you know it, within a week we had two clients signed up! From there, things just took off thanks to word of mouth.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching my website was a big milestone for me, but it was just the beginning of my journey. I knew that I needed to get the word out and start building connections if I wanted to grow my business.
So I started reaching out to friends and connections on LinkedIn, and to my surprise, I received a ton of positive feedback right away. Before long, I had a few clients lined up and things started to take off. As a startup-focused business, it's safe to say that around 80% of our clients are founders between the ages of 28-35. Our clientele predominantly comes from LinkedIn and referrals through word of mouth.
But I didn't stop there. I also created social media profiles and started sharing content that I thought would be valuable to my target audience. And I have big plans to create even more free design content for startups who can't afford a design agency. I really believe in giving back to the community and providing as much value as possible.
As a startup founder myself, I know how challenging it can be to get started with a tight budget. That's why I'm so passionate about creating resources that can help others succeed. I believe that by working together and sharing our knowledge and expertise, we can all achieve great things.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We've had a lot of success just from word of mouth and happy clients. When people love what we do, they tend to tell their friends and colleagues about us, and that's helped us grow in some really exciting ways.
We're proud to say that 60% of our clients have signed up for a yearly subscription with us.
One of the main reasons why our startup clients choose to work with us on a yearly basis is because we provide them with fast and efficient delivery within 1-2 days. They see the immense value in having a partner that can provide everything they need in one easy and fast pipeline. This is particularly important for startup founders who are always pressed for time.
Our clients appreciate that we're available to help them anytime, without the painful and slow process of requesting tasks and waiting for work from traditional agencies or freelance designers. Moreover, our rates are more affordable than those of traditional agencies, so our yearly rate is equivalent to just three months of an agency's rate.
It's pretty awesome to know that we're doing something right and that people trust us enough to keep working with us for the long term.
Of course, we're always looking for new ways to expand our reach and bring in more business. But for us, it's all about creating great products and providing excellent service. When we do that, the rest tends to fall into place.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Urban and I make an incredible team when it comes to helping clients turn their visions into reality. We're both incredibly passionate about creative problem-solving, and we're always eager to dive into a new project and bring our clients' wildest ideas to life.
Whether our clients come to us with a clear vision or need a little guidance along the way, we're always ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. And because we're able to work quickly and efficiently, we're able to offer clients a huge range of options and iterations to choose from. It's all about giving them the flexibility and creativity they need to truly shine.
One thing that really sets us apart from the crowd is our willingness to think outside the box and take risks. We're never satisfied with the status quo, and we're always pushing ourselves to try new things and come up with innovative solutions that truly make a difference.
Right now, we're not spending any money on advertising. It's a really exciting time for us, and we're eager to keep growing and expanding our reach.
One of our top priorities is to bring on more designers and developers to help us keep up with the demand for our products. We're always on the lookout for talented and passionate individuals who share our vision and can help us take our work to the next level.
Another goal we have is to expand our reach beyond the UK and USA. We're looking to go global, and we believe that collaborating with accelerators and investment firms can help us achieve that. By partnering with these firms, we hope to get our services in front of startups and entrepreneurs all over the world.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
In my experience, one of the keys to success in entrepreneurship is to be constantly learning and growing. Whether it's learning a new skill, exploring a new industry, or just staying up-to-date on the latest trends, there's always something new to discover.
One approach that's worked well for me is to focus on learning the basics of different areas, even if they're not directly related to my field. For example, if you're an entrepreneur who's not familiar with design, it's worth taking a few days to learn the basics and get a feel for what's popular and effective.
Not only does this approach help you stay well-rounded and versatile as a professional, but it can also be a valuable tool for hiring. When you have a basic understanding of different areas, you're better equipped to assess the skills and abilities of potential employees and determine whether they're a good fit for your company.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I'm a big fan of Webflow - it's hands-down the best website builder I've ever used! What I love most about it is how user-friendly it is - even if you don’t know code, you can create beautiful, professional-grade websites in no time.
When it comes to creating designs, I'm a big fan of using Figma. It's a really powerful tool that makes it easy to create beautiful designs.
I also use Pinterest for inspiration. It's a great platform for discovering new ideas and staying up-to-date on the latest design trends. I love how easy it is to curate a collection of images and ideas that I can reference whenever I'm working on a new project.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There's a lot of amazing material out there that inspires me and helps me grow both personally and professionally. One person who has been particularly influential in my journey is my partner, Urban Bradesko. He's absolutely obsessed with knowledge and is always sharing valuable links, books, and resources with me.
But if I had to pick just one book that really ignited my entrepreneurial spark, it would have to be "12 Months to $1 Million: How to Pick a Winning Product, Build a Real Business, and Become a Seven-Figure Entrepreneur." This book is a game-changer for anyone who's looking to start their own business or take their existing business to the next level.
What I love about this book is that it's incredibly practical and actionable. It breaks down the process of building a successful business into manageable steps and provides tons of real-world examples and case studies to help illustrate key concepts. It's the kind of book that you can read and then immediately start applying what you've learned to your own business.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My best advice for anyone looking to start a business is to just go for it. It can be tempting to get bogged down in planning and analyzing, but at the end of the day, the action really counts.
The first step is to identify a problem that needs solving. The bigger the problem, the more likely people will pay for your solution. Once you've identified the problem, start brainstorming potential solutions. Think creatively and don't be afraid to take risks. It's important to keep in mind that failure is a natural part of the process, so don't be discouraged if your initial attempts don't succeed.
Ultimately, the key to success is to be persistent and to keep moving forward. Learn from your mistakes, make adjustments as needed, and stay committed to your goals. When you're passionate about what you're doing, it becomes much easier to stay motivated and focused on the big picture.
So my best advice is to just go for it. Don't wait for the perfect moment or the perfect idea. Start taking action today, and you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We're always looking for new crew members to join our team and help us create awesome things. If you're passionate about what you do and you're interested in working with us, we'd love to hear from you!
Whether you're a designer, developer, marketer, or something else entirely, we're always on the lookout for talented and creative people who are ready to take on new challenges.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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