Blur Group, which built a platform called the Creative Services Exchange, has raised $2 million, not in a VC round, but from a group of 20 angel investors. In this angle round were notable business executives Archie Norman, currently chairman of UK broadcaster ITV; Kevin Lomax, founder and former chairman and CEO of Misys Plc and director at M&S; and Tim Schoonmaker, chairman of Grapeshot Limited and ex-chairman of Emap Advertising and ex-CEO of Odeon Cinemas Ltd.
Blur is attempting to create a platform where creatives can offer their services direct to the people commissioning them rather than relying on agencies -- with individual focuses on design, marketing, creative, art and innovative campaigns.
This crowdsourcing of sorts, could be very attractive to mid-range and smaller companies that might find retaining a marketing agency out of their budget, but finding individuals willing to do contract work more palatable. Blur has already amassed 14,000 creative professionals from 135 countries on its Create Services Exchange. They have also assisted 300 companies on 700 projects with the total value of those projects at just under $10 million since launching on 2010.
The average value of individual projects is still modest, at $10,000, but they have started attracting some marketing bigwigs looking for side jobs such as Disney, Sega, and Ralph Lauren, which shows that there may be a market for big brands that want some outside creative work done on the fly.
This company reminds me of Kaggle, a contest site/job board for science and math wizards where problems are posted and people can either enter their data to get stipends or prizes, or can apply for more in-depth confidential work. These types of crowd sourcing services help companies tap talent that they might not normally reach for projects that are periodical or short-term.
Kaggle brings together super scientists that love data and number crunching with researchers, acedemics and big businesses looking to solve tough problems.
Kaggle was the brain child of data-loving Anthony Goldbloom, who worked on interest rate and fiscal policy forecasting models for the Australian government before sitting down and coding what would become Kaggle. Goldbloom soon partnered with Jeremy Howard, one of the leading contributors on Kaggle, who then became chief scientist and president of Kaggle.
As it becomes easier for businesses to address individual tasks and find the best person for that job, it looks like crowdsourcing and these types of exchange networks will grow in other fields so that people looking for part-time work can get what they need, while businesses can adhere to their bottomline.