Once upon a time in startup land, two entrepreneurs sat round a table thinking of how they could make the world a more efficient place.
Cillian Kieran, a design-minded software engineer and Simon Keane, a design and interactive specialist were working together as the founders of CKSK, Ireland’s biggest digital agency with offices in Dublin, Amsterdam and Gdansk. In their work with clients like Sony Playstation, Pepsi, Dannon and Heineken, the two saw how much valuable time it takes to create even the simplest digital assets.
Oftentimes designers will spend $150 of billable time creating a “Click me” button inspired by something they saw on Dribble. The button is used once, maybe, and then it becomes a file of remnant importance on one’s work computer.
“There’s got to be a better way!” thought Kieran, who saw opportunities to build technical solutions to solve these problems for his clients. Now, Kiernan is the CEO of New York City’s newest startup: Folio. If you need a button, you can buy it on Folio or if you’ve made a button, you can drag and drop it into the peer-to-peer marketplace and start earning cash.
Last night at the New York Tech Meetup, Kieran demoed Folio, platform for designers, illustrators, developers and creators to market and sell their digital content. Currently, supported file types include just about anything you can create in Photoshop or Illustrator such as PSD, EPS, AI, JPG, PNG, TIFF, PDF. In the future, the marketplace will open up to all digital assets including 3D models, motion graphics, audio content, photography, financial models, MS Word Templates, drum beats, WAV files, audio loops and even snippets of code.
The Irish-run but New York-based startup quietly launched its limited beta in early April with one of my favorite viral signup pages that prompted you to take a short quiz to discover WTF you are (what type of file) — I’m apparently a torrent file, highly sociable and fun, which is better than being a loud and obnoxious MP3. Folio only let in 500 users and now has 3,500 people on the waiting list.
Folio’s platform operates like an app store for digital goods with the simplicity of Dropbox, giving every creative professional the ability to sell their digital assets in minutes. Using a simple menu bar application, the creative can just drag and drop the file, add a descriptive tag, set a price, upload and it’s instantly for sale on the Folio network and shareable with a unique URL to Facebook and Twitter. For those looking to buy assets, it’s just as simple. To monetize, Folio takes 30% of each transaction, which is equivalent to Apple’s iTunes model.
Folio’s platform is curated to maintain quality control by a community of approved moderators who are paid a fixed percentage of the price of the file. To protect against copyright infringement, Folio complies with MPAA rules to remove content immediately if wasn’t posted by the original person, and anybody who uses or buys copyrighted content will be issued a refund. As a rule, users of the platform are told they must have creative copyright of their content in order to upload.
Ops Manager Niamh Hughes and CEO Cillian Kieran at General Assembly
There are a few competitors in this space. Aussie-based Envato has a much wider target audience and allows artwork to be edited and amended. There are also platforms such as Code Canyon and Graphic River, which are not very pro-seller. In addition to taking 70%, they ask sellers to take tests before posting on the platform. Talk about a huge barrier to entry for a busy, creative professional.
What most separates Folio from similar marketplaces is its incredibly intuitive and frictionless desktop application. That coupled with the fact it’s a New York City startup growing in the heart of ad-land and it’s attuned to the needs and desires of the professional design community.
For example, down the line, agencies will be able to have their own stores and upload their content as a collective and you’ll even be able to upload content through a plugin for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as well as buy it from inside these programs. To date, the company is bootstrapped by Kieran and Keane.
Check out a gallery of Folio’s application below.
Product Preview Webstore
Jiri Sykora via shutterstock