Minted, where great designs come from

 “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)

Efficiency criteria

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. 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 Assessed at 07-03-2017

Laurel & Wolf brings interior design into the digital age

Ever felt like changing your interior but no time and experience to do it yourself? Worried that it becomes too expensive when allowing stylists design your space? Inspired by all the inspirational boards and images of designs popping up on websites like Pinterest and Instagram? No matter what the exact reason may be, Laurel & Wolf offers the perfect solution for all your designer needs at affordable prices.

Laurel & Wolf – What is it?
L&W, founded in 2014, took advantage of the increasing popularity in interior design, while at the same time recognizing the cost and effort involved in finding and hiring a designer. Due to the traditional pricing system of interior design services, 98% of people could not afford them and L&W found a way to change this radically (L&W, 2017). The company transformed the entire interior design industry by launching their online platform, connecting professional designers with customers, allowing them to design tailored interiors for commercial and residential spaces (Perez, 2015). The platform offers access to worldwide high-quality design partners in return for a one-time flat fee from its customers. As such, the company makes professional interior design available to all.

How does it work?
L&W provides a platform whereby designers can participate in projects demanded by customers. The platform includes communication tools for interaction between designers and customers, and third party manufacturers can offer their products and services to both parties. Customers pay a flat fee and provide personal information to the platform including a style quiz, marking highly desired items and photos of their space (i.e. passive information-based individualization). In return, the platform provides customers with around six 2D digital style boards from professional stylists who created personalized designs for their space (Perez, 2015). From those style boards, customers can select their favorite, and interact directly with the respective stylist to add modifications (i.e. active consumer involvement).

The final result is a shopping list which includes all items of the preferred digital style board (including modifications). This shopping list fits into the indicated budget of the customer.

Efficiency Criteria
L&W is a two-sided personalized platform connecting designers to customers seeking a new, but affordable design (Rysman, 2009). This value system is considered efficient since it maximizes joint profitability of both parties involved (Carson et al., 1999). On the customer side, their unmet need is utilized by allowing for easy, efficient and low cost designs. Customers get served with a small number of designed inspiration boards based on their indicated preferences which reduces choice overload and thus increases efficiency. Moreover, time effort is reduced by using an online platform instead of the need to manually browse and look for design websites or shops. Last, by paying a relatively low, flat flee and indicating a maximum budget on shopping items, costs are minimized. From the designers’ perspective, designers get access to a new customer base, enhancing their career prospects. A designers’ profession can be highly insecure in terms of working opportunities and the L&W platform provides a constant stream of customers. Revenue for the L&W platform is generated by 20% of the flat design fee paid by customers and through affiliate revenues on online sales (Perez, 2015).

Regarding the institutional arrangements, it is important for the platform to guarantee high-quality designs. To assure this, designers are screened and evaluated extensively before being allowed to join the platform. In addition, the platform offers the ability for customers to rate and review designers. Assessing the legal institutional environment, the platform is subject to the threat of misuse of intellectual property. Customers might take advantage of other designers’ work and present it as if it is theirs. To circumvent this, the platform grants intellectual property rights (IPRs) as protection against the creators of designs by letting each participant in the platform sign an ‘End User License Agreement and Terms of Service’ (L&W, 2017). As such, interests between the designers and wider public are balanced and creativity is stimulated (WIPO, 2016).

What’s in it for the Future?
Currently, only 2 years after its foundation, the company grew to over 60 employees with a marketplace of more than 1,000 interior designers. The company is named as one of Business Insider’s ‘Los Angeles Start-ups to Watch’ and published in magazines as Forbes and TechCruch Inc (L&W, 2017). Clearly, L&W has disrupted the traditional model of the interior design industry and this is only yet beginning to pay off..


Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding Institutional Designs Within Marketing Value Systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Laurel & Wolf (2017). About Us. From: [Accessed: February 25, 2017].

Laurel & Wolf (2017). End User License Agreement and Terms of Service. From: [Accessed: February 26, 2017].

Rysman, M. (2009). The Economics of Two-Sided Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol 23 (3), pp. 125-143.

Tsekouras, D. (2017). ‘Lecture 1: Introduction to Value Co-creation. Customer-centric Digital Commerce, Rotterdam School of Management [Accessed: 1 March 2017].

World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (2017). About Intellectual Property. From: [Accessed: 26 February, 2017].


How far are we willing to go for personalized recommendations?

A week ago I was looking for a pirate costume for a theme party, so I was searching online and visited a couple of website. After finding the perfect outfit, I ordered it and it arrived the next day. However, when I enter Facebook, I still get recommendations for different pirate costumes, even though there is no need for it anymore. 48% of the people tend to spend more when they have a personalized experience, therefore 90% of the companies use personalized recommendations. However, there is a small boundary between helpful personalized and extremely irritating unnecessary ads.

Continue reading How far are we willing to go for personalized recommendations?

Enhancing Customer Experience : Touchscreen T-Shirt by Under Armour

Hi guys!

Do you know something about “wearable technology”? Imagine: clothing and accessories incorporating some advanced technology capabilities. These kind of innovations are the real example of how technology is nowadays part of our everyday life.

In this post I would like to talk about one of the latest wearable technology that will be released on the 20th of March by Under Armour: Armour39. It is an athletic performance monitoring system that measures how hard an athlete pushes him or herself during a Continue reading Enhancing Customer Experience : Touchscreen T-Shirt by Under Armour

Harlem Shake compilation

Harlem Shake, a song that was recorded by DJ Baauer caused a major media reaction. Baauer couldn’t believe what his song had caused and he says that he keeps getting surprised by the impact the song has every 15 minutes.

A harlem shake is a typical movie where in the first 15 seconds there is one person doing crazy, whereafter the next 15 seconds there is a huge crowd going crazy with everone doing his/her own move ( see youtube movie attached).

The song didn’t do well in the beginning, but since there were so many people posting their Continue reading Harlem Shake compilation

Corona Light on Facebook

A few years ago the mexican company “Crown Import” hired the advertising agency Pereira O’Dell for the “Corona Light “Most Liked” on Facebook” campaign. Targeting young consumers the brand raised awareness through showing user submitted photos on a billboard on Times Square in New York. After liking Corona’s Facebook page users are allowed to upload their photo and afterwards the photo will be displayed on the billboard. It is a very smart way to involve your customers. Combining offline and online technics, the integrated markting campaign succeed to increase the fans of the Facebook page up to 6000% just for 2 months. This marketing activity creates value for the two parties – consumers take part into something excitement and “Corona Light” increases the brand awareness. Instead of designing expensive billboards with expensive endorsers for example, the company decided to promote their product with the faces of their customers and fans.

Apple & the Ultimate Customer Experience

The way of doing business is changing. Customers have higher expectations and customer experience is very important nowadays.

And this is the way Apple works, they care a lot about the customer experience. This is the main reason why they have a very strong brand, everyone knows about Apple. Their goal is to let the customer feel better. As you can see in the video.

Scott McKain had a ultimate customer experience with the App store and he is sharing it Continue reading Apple & the Ultimate Customer Experience

Unox New Years Dive

As we have been speaking a lot about customer experiences that are related with brand (like the Heineken experience) I started thinking about other similar examples where this happens in dutch society.

Unox is a ‘Authentic Dutch’ ( brand of Unilever and Unilever has created a really famous yearly event – The Unox New Year Dive in Scheveningen. All hats, handgloves, etc. are sponsored by Unox and after dipping in the sea you can eat all Unox Continue reading Unox New Years Dive

5 Star Customer Experience

This video explains the new era, the next generation of customer services. What is the centre of your business? IT can be everything: sales , profit, media , Facebook, marketing, growth. Nowadays is the age of the customer, everything must be customer centric and oriented. The consumer has information, has a choice and a voice and the manager should be aware of that. The customer wants more, that more that he expects is “great customer service “. The next generation of customer service is “Customer Experience” from the beginning of the process until the end!!

what is a Customer Experience?

This video is about a company, Custvox, that helps listen and understand the voice of the consumers as well as helps managing the quality of the offered experience. It is being explained that in nowadays, retaining the, already, existing customers is considered to be one of the most important things, since we are living in the “Experience Economy” . We are experiencing the “Customer Centric Culture”. An example is being described, explaining how a coffee bean can be interepreted as a commodity, as a good to compare in a super market, as a competing service, as a memorable event, or even as everything above, in total. It is being indicated that the level of differentiation from the offered corporate experience is a factor influencing the level of leadersip position. Finally, it is being mentioned that whatever is the industry, the most important competitive advantage is the high quality of the offered experience. “Let the customer drive.”

NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear!

Hi everyone!

After reading the post below from George about interaction with advertisements I remembered a very interesting and interactive video on you tube of Tipp-Ex company. After a short introduction with a hunter and a bear that catches your attention, you are given the opportunity to choose the ending of the video and actually see immediately your story. What is more they use the product in such a way that you cannot miss it.

Using such a technique creates greater effect between the advertisement and the consumers. As we can see in this example they reached more than 20 million views with all the world spreading out their campaign.

Putting the consumer in the procedure with interaction maximizes visibility and interest in the product or service.

Have fun making scenarios!

Nikol Fotaki 372645

creating brand communities

What is interesting about this video is that it does not only talk, just, about how the brand communities are being created, but it is about a company who promises to create your own brand community..The following video is an advertisement of a company, Dynamic Signal, who promises to deliver to companies custom analysis of their brand influencers in order to be able and create their own brand community. It is stated, in the video, that in our modern times the consumers can connect to whatever they want, whenever they want spending a large amount of their valuable time in the web in niche categories that interest them the most. In addition to that, the increased role of the social media, plays, also, a huge role in increasing the involvement of each brand with its devoted enthusiasts. This Continue reading creating brand communities

Canon “Photochains”

A few years ago Leo Burnet created a brilliant integrated campaign for Canon Australia. Using completely unique and original idea the company established the brand image of Canon EOS as a creative and inspiring. The campaign succeed to raise awareness, extend the time people spend on the website and even involve photographers who use other brands. The example shows how consumers could be connected to a chain via simple online platform and an innovative idea. Enjoy the video 🙂

Cholera and Malaria for sale on the streets of New York

Since we discussed Word Of Mouth in session 9, I am very impressed by the stunts that companies arrange to create positive Word Of Mouth. When I searched on the internet for more examples of positive WOM, I found a website with the top 7 Guerilla Marketing Events. These events are organized to create buzz. There is one example that intrigues me greatly: The dirty water vending machine. This Guerilla Marketing Event has conquered the fifth place in the ranking, but is certainly not less impressive as the winner. The video shows a vending machine on the streets that sells dirty water and a guy that walks on the streets selling dirty water. No one wants to buy from the guy. Be honest, because: no one wants to drink dirty water. Even though no one buys from the guy, there are a lot of people that buy the dirty water from the vending machine. The yield from the sales went to Unicef that bought clean fresh water for people in third world countries. The stunt was on the national television.

The top 7 Guerilla Marketing Events are posted on the website:

I would say have a look onetime because some events are very impressive!

Marjon Koster

Where good ideas come from

When I was searching on the internet for some nice ideas to post on our blog, I found a nice YouTube example of a book from author Steven Johnson. Steven Johnson is one of the most innovative thinkers. The book is called: “Where good ideas come from”. In the video Johnson explaines what the key factors to generate great ideas really are.


Marjon Koster