Concept Cupboard is a marketplace connecting businesses, from startups to big brands, with the very best student and graduate freelancers.

I caught up with General Manager Adam Ball to ask about the business and his future plans.

In one sentence, what is Concept Cupboard?

Concept Cupboard is an online creative crowdsourcing marketplace connecting businesses, from startups to big brands, with the very best student and graduate freelancers. 

What problems does Concept Cupboard solve?

We really focus on solving two key problems. The first is that of small businesses in the UK who are struggling to source high quality, affordable design & marketing. The issue that we saw was that all of the large agencies tended to cater to big brands that could afford them.

By connecting them with the next generation of creative talent we are able to allow anyone to access these brilliant young minds.

The second is that of tackling youth unemployment. This is the social purpose that drives the team at Concept Cupboard and we’re passionate about putting everything we have into this before youth unemployment is deemed ‘too big to solve’.

We do this by connecting creatives with real paid briefs, a continuous feedback loop and a free portfolio space to show off their work. We’ve seen some great successes in this space so far so we’re looking to continue making a difference. 

When and why did you launch it?

Concept Cupboard was launched in February 2011 and the main driver behind this was to create a socially driven company that would address a big gap in the market.

Seeing these two groups of people, businesses looking to grow and students looking for work, just made it a no brainer to get the company up and running as son as possible!

Who is your target audience?

Having this two-sided marketplace means we are catering to two quite diverse audiences. The first being businesses. Ranging from startups through to big brands that we’ve worked with previously such as EA and HP. 

The second group being student and graduate creatives aged between 18-25. Our creative community tends to have quite a diverse background and their skill sets can range from graphic design through to advertising and marketing students. 

What are your immediate goals?

Our immediate goals are to reach out to as many businesses, brands and students as possible to bring the most benefit to both communities. We’ve spent quite a bit of time refining the product and making sure the process is smooth and simple.

Having proved the concept works we’re looking to really ramp up the number of projects we’re supplying to our students. We’re also looking to educate businesses about the power that crowdsourcing can yield. 

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Concept Cupboard?

I would say that the biggest challenge so far has been working out how to market on a shoestring. As a startup it is essential to get your company out into the public eye but you don’t have much capital to lavish on these activities like bigger companies do.

That’s why channels such as social media and word of mouth have been so important for us when growing the business. Working with fewer resources in comparison to the competition has actually made us more creative as a company as we really have to think about the best ways to get out in front of people.

It really is true that scarcity is the mother of invention!

How will the company make money?

We’re already making money at Concept Cupboard and we do this through two main routes at the moment. The first is a listing fee on any of the crowdsourcing projects, from logo design through to film & animation, that a business wants to post.

The businesses sets a budget that will go to the student creative and we charge on top of that. Kind of like an eBay listing fee. 

The second is from recruitment fees. We’ve been placing creatives at companies, big & small, who just haven’t been able to find the right people.

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

The core team is quite small, consisting of myself as General Manager, Martin our Community Manager, and Chris our head of Business Development.

In addition to this we have a lot of input from the founding team who have years of experience in setting up businesses, charities and marketing agencies.

We’re also not afraid of using our own business and make use of freelancers to fluctuate how much resource we need on a week-to-week basis. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five year’s time?

In the next year we’re aiming at becoming a well-known name in the business community for using student & graduate freelancers to boost business.

In three years time we’ve got big plans to go global and by five years time it’s not too much to get on the front cover of Forbes is it?