“Could crowd-sourcing design build an e-commerce company that stayed in tune with its consumer audience forever?”- Mariam Naficy, founder of Minted
Minted was launched in 2007 after the owner Mariam Naficy got intrigued by the idea that there was hidden creative talent around the world whose work was not accessible to consumers and that the Internet could help surface. Minted started with a save-the-date card design challenge in 2008 and the company has been expanding ever since. Nowadays Minted is an online marketplace platform of independent artists located in Jackson Square, San Francisco. The marketplace offers a portfolio of four different product lines namely: stationery, fine art prints, home decor and wedding decor. (Minted, 2017)
“Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else.” – Minted
According to Minted, great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists that people do not have access to through traditional retailers. Minted uses technology to allow consumers to discover great creative talent, making Minted a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses. (Minted, 2017)
To give you an idea, the video below shortly shows an example of holiday cards.
How it works
The value generation lies within the hands of Minted’s customers and artists for several reasons. First, Minted continuously organizes open design challenges for independent artists from all over the word. The idea behind these challenges it that every artist, upcoming or experienced, is able to submit his or her ideas (Customer Value Proposition). These design challenges take place within every product line and next to Minted, consumers can also request for a design within a challenge. Second, within these challenges, customers vote on the design submissions and thereby deciding the winning designs (key resource and process). These winning designs are then taken into production and sold on the Minted marketplace (profit formula). By using crowdsourcing for physical design purposes, Minted applies a co-creator model (Chui et al., 2016; Johnson et al., 2008 Minted, 2017)
In addition, their crowdsource initiatives go even further. Minted’s community supports the personal development, creativity, and careers of independent artists in the world. Minted’s community currently exist of independent artists that are located in all 50 states of the US and more than 60 countries. For artists, Minted builds their brands and connect them with other artists. Within the community, artists are able to express themselves in a unique way and learn from critiques of other artists and talented peers (Customer Value Proposition). (Johnson et al., 2008; Minted, 2017)
With the current structure of the challenges and Community, artists, customers as well as Minted benefit from it in distinctive ways. As you will see, this business model results in joint profitability for all parties. Within the platform, every artist is able to get exposure to the world and can thereby grow its own name. Artist of the winning submissions even receive a portion of every sale, and they earn a store where they can launch and sell designs using the Minted fulfillment platform with no need to manufacture, ship, or provide customer service. Customers vote and can thereby give direction to which designs they would like to see for sale (i.e. efficiency benefit). Finally yet importantly, Minted benefits from all the votes and uploaded ideas because it gives them certainty that they produce the most desired furniture.
MADE.com also satisfies the feasibility of required reallocations criteria. First, the polity is not directly involved. Second, terms and conditions regarding what is allows and what not need to be accepted by stakeholders before contesting a challenge and creating an account on Minted. In addition, they only take 50% of the customer payment at the time that the customer accepts the project proposal. Remainder is retained by customer until the final artwork is approved and Minted does not remit the final payment to the artist until the delivery of the artwork is confirmed. Thereby ensuring for safe payments. (Minted, 2017)
To answer the question that started it all: YES, Minted shows that with crowd-sourcing design you can build an e-commerce company and stay in tune with its consumer audience forever.
Chui, C., Liang, T. & Turban, E. (2016) What can crowdsourcing do for decision support?. Journal of Decision Support Systems, 65: 40-49
Johnson, M.W., Christensen, C.M. & Kagermann, H. (2008). Reinventing your business model. Harvard Business Review, 86(12): 50-59
Minted (2017). From https://www.minted.com/about-us. Assessed at 07-03-2017