For designers who have ever spent hours trying to tweak a tiny button or icon on a time crunch, salvation is nigh: Folio, a new startup based out of General Assembly, has created a marketplace where top-notch design talent can market and sell their digital content.
The Irish-run but New York-based startup, which launched its beta site last Friday, is helmed by global digital agency CKSK cofounders Cillian Kieran and Simon Keane. Unlike other online marketplaces for independent goods like Etsy, Folio is purely for digital content. Think of it this way: how many old Photoshop or Illustrator files do you have lingering on your hard drive? Why not sell them?
“Folio is a lightweight marketplace for digital content, like an app store for digital goods,” Mr. Kieran told Betabeat via phone. “We’re looking for people to share and trade digital assets. Designers are regularly creating a lot of digital content–like Illustrator files or Photoshop documents–that go unused and they don’t monetize. In Folio, you can literally [have something like that] up for sale within 30 seconds.”
Mr. Kieran took a break from CKSK, which has worked with big clients like Heineken and Sony, eight months ago to focus on Folio. His background is entirely technical, so he’s been working with a host of designers and devs out of the General Assembly headquarters to get Folio up and running. The team sent out 500 beta invites on Friday, and plans to send out more in a sort of test and iterate process, culling direct user feedback on how to optimize the platform to best serve designers’ needs.
The platform can be used either within your browser, or by downloading the client to your computer. Since it’s still in beta, Folio is currently focused on showcasing work from top designers, as well as collecting interested beta testers to give the new platform a trial run. In the short term, Folio is providing talented designers with the platform for free for a year to incentivize using the system, Mr. Kieran said. In the long term, Folio will take a 30 percent cut of each sale, like the iTunes store.
But what of the rampant copyright issues that have plagued other, larger sharing sites like Pinterest and Megaupload? Mr. Kieran says he’s provided appropriate safeguards to avoid copyright infringement. “The system is completely moderated and curated, so the quality of content is very high,” he said. “Every piece of content is vetted by industry professionals for quality and is monitored to make sure nothing else in the system is similar or copied. We also will comply with MPAA rules and remove content immediately if [it wasn't posted by] the original person, and anybody who uses or buys copyrighted content will be refunded.”
Folio is currently funded entirely by Mr. Kieran and Mr. Keane. “I think we will reach out to [venture capitalists], but what we want to do first of all is demonstrate there’s a massive market,” said Mr. Kieran. Building out your business plan before accepting funding? In our current bubble economy, that’s a novel concept.