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Creative start-ups need to focus on the customer problem or need

Friday, 13 September 2013 | By Rose Powell

Art-driven start-ups need to be as savvy about their offering as a software company, according to a design marketplace entrepreneur.


Andrew Yang, director of design marketplace Young Republic and will be discussing how to turn a creative idea into a business at an upcoming 66 Meet-Ups event in Sydney. Melanie Perkins, the chief executive of Canva, will also be presenting.


Yang and Young Republic co-founder Marion Sea had previously run a digital agency for six years, and decided to launch a marketing and distribution platform for creatives after hundreds of conversations with emerging designers.


“We had a lot of young designers coming to us who couldn’t afford it and didn’t know how to market their products anyway. We saw that problem and realised it was an opportunity for all of us,” Yang says.


He says the major issue most creative start-ups face is not realising how critical it is to aim at a genuine demand beneath the creative offering.


“Even if the idea is cool or sounds good, it needs to address a specific problem,” Yang says. “With our most successful designers, even if they don’t address a problem, they address a specific need.”


Yang says launching a creative start-up can take longer to reach sustainable cashflow and lifestyles, so entrepreneurs need to hang in there and respond to customer feedback to keep tailoring their products and offering.


“The better ones have iterated quite a lot from the beginning based on customer feedback, they’ve done the hard yards like a tech start-up, out there in the market innovating,” Yang says.


He adds balancing your business responsibilities with your creative practice can take years to get right.


“Self-discipline and time management are the keys to this, but these are not always natural for creatives, or developers too actually. We like to sleep late, and you need that time to think and be free. But the rest of the time, you need to deal with the business end of things,” Yang says. “We found for a lot of designers, managing this transition can take around the three or four years.”


Yang adds Young Republic was ready to develop beyond just the online marketplace they currently are.


“As the rest of the retail and design industry is getting online, we’re looking to build out in the other direction. We’re moving from just an online marketplace, and beginning a journey into retail partnerships and sales, and then eventually manufacturing in maybe five years,” Yang says.