Some of the vital developments of the previous decade or so has been the democratization of many instruments and assets that had as soon as been accessible solely to those that might afford to pay a hefty worth. The cultural progress of the web has been fueled by the creativity of numerous people — creativity unlocked by easy accessibility to what they should make artwork and content material.
Lately I spoke with Shawn Rubel, the founder and CEO of Vecteezy, which presents straightforward, reasonably priced entry to picture and video assets for designers and different creatives in search of to make their very own stuff on a modest finances. In our interview, he talks in regards to the surprising progress of Vecteezy and of the satisfaction that comes from following your ardour whereas doing good work.
Mary Juetten: What’s the identify of your organization and the place are you primarily based?
Shawn Rubel: My firm Vecteezy is predicated in Bowling Inexperienced, Kentucky. About 60% of our group is distant, with group members scattered throughout the nation (and a handful internationally). I grew up and after graduating from college in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, I made my solution to Bowling Inexperienced, the place I had buddies. Bowling Inexperienced has been an amazing neighborhood to Vecteezy with native Western Kentucky College (WKU) as an exquisite associate of ours, as nicely. WKU has an amazing photojournalism program which has infused important artistic expertise into this neighborhood.
Juetten: When did you begin?
Rubel: I’ve at all times been keen about design and digital artistic work. I majored in Visible Arts at College and after graduating, I bought into graphic design and advertising. I caught the startup bug alongside the best way and have become fascinated with e-commerce.
I quickly realized from my very own experiences as a designer that there was an enormous alternative to supply reasonably priced (and free) graphic assets. Inventory photographs and vectors, for instance, have been costly all over the place I regarded for them. Like many designers, I used to be engaged on a decent finances. I additionally talked with contributors who work with the giants within the inventory artistic business, they usually have been struggling to get truthful compensation for his or her designs.
I wished to unravel each these issues. I felt like there needed to be a solution to democratize artistic assets and higher help the artistic neighborhood that constructed the content material.
So, I give up my advertising job and launched an internet site that provided free photoshop brushes. It gained traction, and I set my sights on increasing into extra content material, like photographs.
Vecteezy began in 2007 particularly centered on free vector graphics. At this time, we’re one of many largest artistic marketplaces on the planet with tens of millions of inventory photographs, vectors and movies which can be free and secure to make use of for private or business use. Final 12 months we surpassed 100 million person classes on the Vecteezy platform—one thing I by no means would have anticipated from my aspect hustle practically 15 years in the past.
Juetten: What downside are you fixing?
Rubel: Vecteezy helps to alleviate the hurdles of modern-day creatives, entrepreneurs and companies by offering inventory photographs, movies and vectors at the very best worth. We’re keen about delivering stunning, professional-quality artistic belongings which can be fully free to everybody. What’s extra, our content material comes with sturdy licensing and authorized ensures. On this regard, we stand out from our competitors and we offer further worth to the artistic and design communities.
We’re fairly pleased with the worldwide attain we’ve got amassed. At the moment, customers and contributors flip to Vecteezy in 180 international locations and eight completely different languages. For a few of our contributors, the content material they create for Vecteezy is their solely supply of revenue. That is why it’s so critically vital that we, as an business, deal with and pay our contributors pretty.
Juetten: Who’re your clients and the way do you discover them?
Rubel: Anybody and everybody who wants inventory photographs, vectors, and 4k video is usually a Vecteezy buyer. That’s a part of the fantastic thing about our platform. We’re seeing explicit curiosity from entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small companies now as budgets tighten amid the lingering pandemic.
We even have a world community of the world’s most gifted creatives who contribute the photographs, movies and digital illustrations that comprise our platform.
As we’ve grown, we’ve stored a concentrate on making this content material accessible by offering the very best worth within the market. Because of this, many shoppers come to us from different platforms after looking on their very own for a greater choice in worth and high quality.
Juetten: Who’s in your group?
Rubel: The Vecteezy group is generally distant, and spans two continents and all 4 corners of the U.S. We doubled in measurement as an organization in 2020 and we’re notably centered on boosting our content material and technical experience this 12 months.
As our group grows, it offers us the chance to construct a real neighborhood round those that have high-quality photographs, movies and vectors to share. As a result of, as we develop, so can our community of contributors trying to generate revenue through their artistic capability.
Juetten: Did you increase cash?
Rubel: We’ve thought of it, however simply haven’t wanted to but. We’re a personal firm, bootstrapped and worthwhile. Vecteezy has grown and succeeded over time as a result of we’re assembly a necessity inside the market for professional-quality content material that’s stunning, straightforward and reasonably priced.
Juetten: Startups are an journey — what’s your favourite startup story?
Rubel: Each startup has an amazing story! Beginning a enterprise is tough work.
One story specifically that resonates with me is AirBnB. The founders have been scrappy and modern. They have been struggling to pay their very own lease, in order that they rented air mattresses on their flooring. They realized the thought truly solved two main issues: a common want for additional revenue, and an unmet demand for reasonably priced, distinctive lodging. AirBnB modified the best way folks take into consideration and expertise journey. It created a brand new business round particular person resourcefulness.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what’s your favourite success story?
Rubel: We measure success by what we assist entrepreneurs, small companies and the artistic neighborhood do. Our purpose is to supply designers, creators and entrepreneurs stunning content material that’s fully free. We wish to make the content material of gifted creatives accessible to those that really want it. Additionally, with know-how advancing like it’s, anybody has the chance to make a revenue on this area and we imagine Vecteezy is the proper conduit to facilitate revenue for individuals who really want it.
Truthfully I feel my favourite measure of success is seeing the speedy progress of our contributor community. Up to now 12 months, our neighborhood of contributors has grown 400%. As extra guests come to our web site and obtain recordsdata, our contributors earn extra money. It feels good to be making a supportive neighborhood with measurable affect, and ship on the promise we’re making to our clients on the identical time.
Juetten: Any ideas so as to add for early-stage founders or CEOs in progress mode?
Rubel: Use your passions and your strengths to realize a stability between work you take pleasure in and a rewarding private life.
Vecteezy began as my aspect undertaking and I left every thing else by the wayside after I realized its potential. I like design and being artistic, which pointed me within the course of a possibility I loved engaged on. Should you don’t take pleasure in what you’re constructing, it is going to by no means attain its full potential and neither will you.
As entrepreneurs, it’s additionally straightforward to get distracted as a result of we’ve got no scarcity of concepts. My recommendation is to choose an thought you’re keen about, don’t get distracted and concentrate on it relentlessly. It’s all about focus.
Juetten: And naturally, any IP challenges or horror tales to share?
Rubel: Once I first began Vecteezy, there wasn’t actually every other enterprise gifting away free vectors. Very early in my means of constructing the corporate, I obtained a name out of the blue from one of many main corporations within the inventory picture business. He accused me of taking photographs from them and giving them away on my web site, and threatened authorized motion. It wasn’t even remotely near the reality, so I invited him to supply examples. He couldn’t, in fact. I contacted them once more after the decision and by no means heard again. I imagine it was an effort to intimidate me.
It was at the moment that I noticed how disruptive my thought was. I used to be not even actually being profitable, or having a serious affect, but the thought was threatening to a pacesetter within the business. I knew I used to be onto one thing.
Juetten: What is the long-term imaginative and prescient on your firm?
Rubel: Vecteezy is on it’s solution to being the largest inventory artistic supplier on the Web. Whereas 2020 was a troublesome 12 months in so some ways, it was an outstanding 12 months for us and our firm’s progress. Our group is placing the items in place to scale our firm choices and our world attain. We’re additionally devoted to strengthening our contributor neighborhood by supporting them extra as we develop. We’re not slowing down; we’re constructing round supporting designers by sharing their work with tens of millions of people that put it to nice use.
Because of Shawn for sharing his perception and story, notably the recommendation round pursuing what you take pleasure in. Your entire enterprise neighborhood is all the higher for having free high quality assets accessible, with out the fear of IP challenges. #onwards.