The election of a great business model at the moment of building your startup is essential to achieve success.
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I'm a designer/developer/ originally from France, but now living in Osaka, Japan. I work on a lot of stuff, but lately, most of my energy has been going into maintaining VulcanJS, a new React+GraphQL open-source framework. I actually used Vulcan to build another one of my projects, Sidebar, a daily newsletter of design links.
I built Folyo as my first "startup" attempt all the way back in 2011. At the time, I had noticed how hard it was for startups to hire good designers (which it still is, I guess!). So I got the idea to build a networking site that would help connect companies and designers. So original, I know!
As for marketing, I relied mainly on writing good content and then posting it on sites like Hacker News. Some of my posts (such as the $5 Logo) even went pretty viral.
To be honest I probably wasn't. The main "advantage" Folyo had was that it was a very lean operation with very little overhead. For example, we charged a flat fee for posting a project and didn't handle any of the payment stuff between the company and designer in order to keep the app simple. We also didn't handle any of the project management for you, so we were really focused on making that initial connection and not much else, as opposed to competitors who were trying to guide you through the entire design process.
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That's always a tough one. Most startups rightfully prefer hiring full-time employees, but that's not always possible, whether it's because of budgetary or availability constraints.
I picked a bad business model, as shown by the fact that many, many other companies have tried doing the same thing as Folyo and failed.
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Folyo was actually instrumental in Sidebar's success, as I initially launched Sidebar in order to have one more avenue to drive traffic through Folyo. I never expected that Sidebar would turn into a more sustainable business than Folyo ever was!
Brennan Dunn's stuff is generally pretty good!
Remember that Folyo is not closed. It was given away to Robert Williams from Workshop. The service still exists and Robert is working hard to make it successful!
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