Bangalore: If you don’t have enough money to approach the top names in marketing and are unsure which smaller agency is your right choice, post your requirements in cyberspace and allow a crowd of creative professionals service you.
At a small price, of course, say Sitashwa Srivastava and Manik Kinra, founders of www.jademagnet.com, a meeting ground for small entrepreneurs who want logos, brochures or even animated films to promote their businesses and individuals looking to do such work.
“A single creative person can at most think in two or three dimensions. Imagine what 10 people can do,” says Kinra, chief marketing officer, Jade Magnet Online Pvt. Ltd.
While large or medium-sized corporations have a marketing budget with which to approach an agency or a production house, this is an expensive proposition for smaller businesses.
Going to smaller agencies or freelancers, albeit cheaper, poses the problems of identifying the right one for your work, getting it done in time and ensuring quality, says Srivastava, the firm’s chief executive. “It can become very difficult to get hold of creative talent, and get even a simple brochure done, much less an animated short film.”
That is where Jade Magnet’s so-called crowd-sourcing model comes in. Clients specify their requirements on the online platform, which could be a simple statement of their marketing needs or a detailed brief of the expected work, along with how much they are willing to pay. Then they sit back and wait for the crowd to respond.
Creative professionals, or providers, who think they can do the job and are willing to do it at the price offered, apply for it. It can go back and forth, opened up to the crowd again, and at the end of the process, clients hopefully have the solutions they want.
Jade Magnet also employs delivery managers to oversee execution. As revenue, it shares 20% of the price entrepreneurs pay for a task; service providers take the rest. Clients can pay once they see the first set of designs.
The model is working, says Srivastava. He and Kinra started the business in October 2009, and by March 2010, they had a modest turnover of Rs 10 lakh. In fiscal 2011, it jumped to Rs 59 lakh. So far this fiscal year, they have already earned Rs 55 lakh and are hoping to cross Rs 1 crore.
Srivastava and Kinra initially doubled up as delivery managers but have since hired three dedicated delivery managers and two sales personnel. They also have a network of about 30 account managers who pick up projects across India—like franchisees.
Jade is a precious stone with sacred connotations in many cultures, says Srivastava, explaining the company’s name. Magnet signifies attraction—the ability to pull towards itself whatever comes close to it.
In the two years since its launch, Jade Magnet has attracted nearly 400 clients and 4,200 service providers. About 65% of these clients are based in India, the rest are from locations such as the US and West Asia. Some 70% of the providers are also in India.
The company sets a minimum limit for tasks, arrived at from an analysis of market dynamics. For instance, it is sRs 6,000 for a logo. “Less than that, we have found that there will not be takers for the job,” says Srivastava.
Jade Magnet is trying to make its technology more flexible as it bids to scale up. The duo stresses the importance of creating local talent pools in multiple locations, as culture plays an important role in getting the right marketing solution. “The platform has to be localizable. Clients like to see that there are lot of local projects going on, wherever they are,” says Srivastava.
Srivastava and Kinra got together while they were doing a masters in business administration at the Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai in 2006. They worked for a year—Srivastava at Cognizant and Kinra at Computer Services Corporation—to pay off their education loans.
By early 2008, they had started a pilot for Jade Magnet. They say joining an entrepreneurship acceleration programme at TiE (Indus Entrepreneurs), an organization which focuses on nurturing next generation entrepreneurs, was helpful. Investor Muki Regunathan stepped in with a funding of $200,000. (around Rs 1 crore)
Crowd-sourcing poses its own problems. Srivastava agrees intellectual property protection can become an issue but says there are ways to work around it, both for clients and providers. “You have control over how much you release to the crowd.”