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Alec Lynch

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Alec Lynch is the founder and CEO of crowdsourcing platform DesignCrowd. Lynch, who graduated with high distinction from the University of Technology in Sydney in 2004, started following his entrepreneurial inclinations directly after completing his undergraduate work. Bachelor’s of Information Technology in hand, the young entrepreneur joined forces with a friend to found their first business, an online start-up offering customer relationship management software. When the business failed, Lynch took a position at management consulting firm Booz & Company, hoping to learn more about the world of business through experience.

After two years working across a variety of industries as a strategy consultant, Lynch felt ready to take another venture into the start-up world. During his time with Booz & Co, he had noticed a disconnect in the design industry; clients took an expensive risk buying blind designs that might not be what they were looking for, while Lynch’s designer friends found themselves largely out of work. After watching the reaction to the London Olympics logo, an expensive, yearlong project that was met with wide criticism, Lynch found himself wondering why the London Olympic Company didn’t run a global design contest instead. After all, the resulting logo would have been cheaper, quicker, and, above all, of higher quality. With this as a jumping off point, Lynch conceived of a plan to improve the design transaction on both sides by building an online, global design marketplace.

In 2007, quitting his job and moving back home with his parents, Lynch started making his plan a reality. With $10,000 of personal savings and three credit cards as financing, he launched DesignCrowd out of his parent’s garage, bootstrapping in this way for two years. Between it’s launch and 2009, DesignCrowd grew 14-fold, a growth rate that would soon catch the attention of investors. Lynch raised his first financing, a $300,000 angel investment round, in 2009. The company raised $3 million funding rounds in both 2011 and 2013, both with capital from Starfish Ventures. The later round allowed DesignCrowd to begin establishing an international presence, expanding into the UK, Canada, Singapore, India and the Philippines. In 2015, DesignCrowd raised $6 million in a funding round led by AirTree Ventures with participation from Starfish Ventures.

DesignCrowd’s marketplace now boasts more than 400,000 graphic designers representing 165 countries crowdsourcing design to clients around the world. They’re crowdsourced projects have included design work for Amnesty International, ESPN, Sprite, the Sydney Morning Herald, HTC One, Microsoft Office, Panasonic, UNICEF, Harvard Business School, TimesSquare.com, Virgin HealthMiles and the TV series Dexter. In 2011, they acquired Brandstack.com, relaunching it later that year as BrandCrowd, with Lynch serving as CEO. They’ve also brought Worth1000.com under their umbrella, acquiring the image manipulation and contest website in 2014.

Lynch’s entrepreneurial efforts earned him a spot on SmartCompany’s “30 Under 30” list of young entrepreneurs every year from 2011 to 2013, as well as a spot of Anthill’s list of the same theme in 2012. In 2014, he won Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award and was named New South Wales Entrepreneur of the Year by the Pearcey Foundation.

Companies and Investments

DesignCrowd (Founder, CEO), BrandCrowd (CEO), Booz & Co. (Senior Consultant)

Lessons Learned

I often attend and lead the marketing stand-up, which goes for half an hour and during that meeting we’ll look at what the team has done in the last and coming 24 hours. The idea is to make sure we’re working on the right things. This is critical and monitoring and constantly testing what you’re doing is also really important. If something is going to fail you want it to fail quickly and learn from it so you can then succeed. (Alec Lynch on constantly analyzing, adapting and growing as you move forward, in a profile on SmartCompany)

There is a good saying: culture eats strategy for breakfast. We’ve got a young and fun culture, but we also work hard and we do look for certain characteristics in the team members we hire – high achievers, hard workers, creative people and people we think will fit with our culture and build on it. (Alec Lynch on building culture and placing an importance on hiring, in a profile on SmartCompany)

That was the most challenging period. And during that time I had to be as optimistic and positive as possible. I had to be my own boss, and coach and motivator all at the same time. (Alec Lynch on optimism and self-motivation, in a profile on The Age)

Inspiring Quotes

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker

Alec Lynch's Quotes

With an idea, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, you can’t know if it will work or not until you try it.

Alec Lynch

As an individual entrepreneur, my personal approach across all these phases has been to think big, move fast, test everything and never give up.

Alec Lynch

Your reward is linked to the hours and the amount of hard work you put in.

Alec Lynch

Influential Books