February has seen the release of new information that suggests venture capital (VC) firms remain enamoured with bitcoin and its long-term potential.
But, while it makes sense for larger VC firms to stay resilient in the face of bitcoin’s more recent struggles, new data suggests interest in the virtual currency and its technology is just as high among generally more risk-averse small investors and startups.
Online graphic design specialist 99designs, which serves global entrepreneurs requiring logos and professional branding, has revealed new data that shows its marketplace has seen a marked increase in bitcoin interest among users in recent months.
Based in San Francisco, 99designs specializes in pairing businesses owners with designers, who compete to win a cash prize for their winning work.
Most notably, 99designs’ data reveals that 49% of its design contests for bitcoin-related ventures have been started within the last 30 days, and 87% of its bitcoin contests have been held since last November.
Public relations manager Lauren Gard was inspired to assess her community’s interest in bitcoin, as she was curious to see whether recent setbacks had adversely impacted entrepreneurs.
“In the case of bitcoin, as we followed its rise and dive and the various related scandals in casual conversation, we became curious to know whether entrepreneurs were still seeing green.”
The data, however, shows that bitcoin enthusiasts remain undeterred.
How 99designs works
Billing itself as a marketplace for “crowdsourced graphic design”, 99designs allows aspiring business owners to access the talent and ideas of graphic designers all over the world. As of November 2013, 28 million designs had been submitted to the website, with $63m paid out to designers.
After filling out an online brief, business owners choose the size of the prize that they’ll provide to the winner and launch the contest. From there, they receive designs and give feedback to designers.
After seven days, a winner is chosen and the business owner can download their design to use however they see fit. A more detailed overview of the process shows how selecting a designer and finalizing the design can last for around one month.
More than 60 projects related to bitcoin have gone through this process to date.
A look at past and current contests on the site shows a wide range of bitcoin-related projects have been workshopped with the help of 99designs.
These include small projects, such as business logos, t-shirts and business card designs, as well as larger projects like bitcoin-related apps, bitcoin incubators and even a bitcoin-related restaurant directory.
One submission that called for designers to create a bitcoin bank website design had garnered 78 entries at press time, with the winning designer set to receive $2,119. Similarly, a bitcoin ATM and credit card query had received 79 responses for a $1,349 prize.
Bitcoin is not the only virtual currency finding a home on the site, however. Gard mentioned that a number of other projects related to virtual currencies have been completed by users:
“We’ve hosted contests for companies focusing on litecoin, peercoin and a few other creative new cryptocurrency concepts we can’t disclose.”
Furthermore, 99designs indicated projects are being launched all around the world in accordance with bitcoin’s global goals. It noted that Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong and Indonesia were among the countries represented in past projects.
It seems the site is increasingly attracting movers and shakers in the bitcoin industry, with a design for the next San Francisco Bitcoin Fair, to be held this March, submitted via the service.
As for its own bitcoin acceptance, 99designs was less clear:
“The bitcoin movement is certainly an interesting one – and one we’ll continue to watch closely as 99designs continues to evolve and expand,” said Gard.
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