Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Daniel Schwarz'; Founder & CEO of the London-based start-up “Airwalk Design”.
Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Airwalk Design is like Pinterest for designers, a creative platform for sharing design inspiration. We also have fresh, undiscovered writers with specialist knowledge in certain genres of digital design. We call them our ambassadors! Our mission is to inspire and spark thought-provoking reactions in the minds of designers worldwide. The very best of the user-submissions will be published in our magazine.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We began right at the beginning of 2013, and we have already launched our website this spring, including Dropbox integration and our new Google Chrome app that lets you share design inspiration with no more fuss than a single click. We are currently accepting sign-ups and encourage users to submit their favorite design inspirations.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We plan to monetize our platform with niche-topic advertising using the BuySellAds network and also through the sales of our monthly e-magazine. If the inspiration strikes us, we will also publish books written either by me or by our onboard, handpicked writers specializing in specific topics such as dark-art and surrealism.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I am the only person in my team! I do everything, from design to development to marketing! It’s a tiring role, but an exciting and fulfilling one. We do have onboard writers, however they are undiscovered and voluntary. Their benefits include discovery, experience and reputation.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We don’t really have many competitors, or you could say that we have a lot. Photoshop blogs, Pinterest, the Behance network or deviantArt. However we like to think that we’re unique and incomparable. We’ve integrated with Dropbox, we have a Chrome App, in which we really put great effort. Our writing focuses on intense, thought-provoking topics that are sure to inspire.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
In a short space of time, we’ve received so many positive comments and user-engagement milestones such as “loves”, “comments” and “retwigs”. Designers love our platform. We’ve also made some great connections which has proven beneficial to marketing our platform. Our first big milestone will be to have 500 sign-ups.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We don’t really have many competitors, or you could say that we have a lot. Photoshop blogs, Pinterest, the Behance network or deviantArt…we’re taken inspiration from so many things but we like to think that we’re unique and incomparable. We’ve integrated with Dropbox, we have a Chrome App, really put the effort in. Our writing focuses on intense, thought-provoking topics that are sure to inspire.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
You could say our biggest problem was creating problems. We had too many ideas, and too little time to implement them. We had way too many re-designs. Deciding where to promote your startup for weeks is hard to, but we ended up ultimately e-mail marketing the entire internet community anyway (within our niche of course). Most of all, keeping the spirits high and keeping patience is the hardest part!
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
People don’t understand the personal aims behind this project. Not everybody reads the about me section, and I suppose it may not be all that relevant to them, but it could be crucial in turning some visitors into customers. This is why I’m reaching out to blogs and startup specialists. I want people to know that this is more than a blog.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Not because I will never give up, not because I wake up at 6am everyday, not because I check code a million times before signing off on a web-project, not because I’m irritating when it comes to perfection, but because I analyse every detail and see things that others don’t. I always have a plan, and I’m always one-step ahead of it.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We definitely want to expand into publishing. Writing is a passion of mine, and most of our workforce will include writers. We want to inform and inspire, and I think writing is the best way to do that. We will publish a monthly magazine as well as a series of books, both entertaining and informative.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Your idea has to be something that you’re passionate about. I could not work the 10 hours a day that I do if I hated it, it would drive me insane. This doesn’t mean that it’s viable. The market has to want and understand your idea too. I also built upon this idea because I’m a designer by background, so it launched right off the back of that really.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Never have too many ideas. Initial ideas are great, but to keep piling them on pushes your launch date further and further away. I’ve also learnt that it helps to talk about your idea before you’ve launched. Tell people, tell them how it’s coming along, what you’re finding hard and what you might want help with. Connections are always great, even if they’re just to keep you sane.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our biggest problem will be trying to suppress our ideas. You have to be patience to make a successful startup, the hardest thing in my opinion. Spreading out your ideas over time keeps the buzz active for as long as possible, so we’re putting some things on the sideline for now, such as more apps and features.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
People who sign up have many, many benefits. The sole point of the platform is to share design inspiration and to collect it too. However, the best will be chosen each month to be published in a magazine, so there’s exposure on the line here. We deeply encourage users to think about the inspiration behind their work for a good chance in being published.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We’re putting a lot of PR out there. We want as many blog coverage and earned media as we can, whilst rewarding the picked up coverage from other blogs. We have many areas to promote, see, for example our website, our app, it’s features, our magazine…even our contest. There’s a lot going on right now.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
We’re targeting artists and designers with a strong sense of ambition, that can be your everyday designer, the amateurs, and the hard-hitting professionals. There’s something for everyone. It’s a place where everybody is equal because of one reason: we all have a mind, and the ability to be inspired.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We share our articles a lot, especially with other Photoshop websites such as PhotoshopRoadmap, etc. We also publish articles on other websites for promotional purposes. We have a large twitter network and an even larger Facebook network. A lot of our sign-ups come from making strong connections with other startups.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We’ve gotten some great feedback from our beta launch. Users love our layout and it’s clean masonry feel. It’s simplicity, the app, the Dropbox integration. It’s quite a productive tool for finding design inspiration and users enjoy reading our articles in the meantime. We’ve spent a lot of time on it. Go check it out!
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ll be hiring more writers to talk about specific, niche topics to fit the demand of what our users want. Right now we have a few, and we think they’re interesting, but we haven’t asked or analysed what people are really demanding yet. Maybe you could help us out? Or even suggest a digital design writer.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We’ve been asked to design a Firefox and iPad app, which was already on our to-do list. People also want to know more about our writers, personal stuff, so we’re creating a page about our ambassadors. They’re undiscovered, so it’s all fresh and exciting. People also want more notifications, and that’s something we regard as our current priority.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Our platform is already getting an international audience, however, it would be nice to have a personalized viewing experiences for each region, such as language formats. We love how inspiration is so diverse from a cultural aspect. Internationalization is very important to us and we regard it as a key priority.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We think that we can be as big as Behance or deviantArt, even Pinterest. And also other popular Photoshop networks such as PhotoshopRoadmap and PSDTuts+. Our writers are the real key to our success, which will convert in referral traffic and organic traffic. Let’s not forget the powerful effects of social media too!
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Right now we definately want writers who can specialise in a niche topic of design. Maybe typography, or character design, both of those would be interesting. These position would be voluntary, at least at first, and would suit a an inexperienced writer looking to launch a career from this. We can be contact @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
I’d say that we are self sustainable. We don’t have any running costs, and we didn’t use any capital (apart from the web hosting!). We will be using Kickstarter to help launch our magazine in mind spring, though. That idea is crucial to the success, but not required. Keep a lookout on Kickstarter for us!
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
It’s hard to stay relaxed, and to tell you the truth, I rarely do. My advice to new entrepreneurs is simplify, compact, and review ideas constantly. Cut out the not so great ones and focus on the best ones. Only focus on what you should be doing now, rather than worrying about a task in the future.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thank you for your time. I would share the hell out of this if it were published!