Scoutzie: Uncovering the World’s Best Designers

June 12, 2013

1:00 pm

Andrew is an iOS and MacOS interface designer based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. “I’m happy to talk to clients,” he says – presumably, compared to all those designers who have no patience for the people paying their wages. Thanks to Scoutzie, Andrew has a source of work to keep him busy, happily talking to those clients.

Scoutzie is an invite-only marketplace for designers. All new users have to be recommended by existing users, then the Scoutzie team reviews them for their design chops and their professionalism (like answering emails promptly).

Once in, new designers create a profile that aims to showcase their personality and reputation, not just their work and price.

“You really get to see the reputation of your designer above and beyond can he create pretty pictures. How does this person work?” explains cofounder Jennifer Toda.

In business since 2011, Scoutzie has seen the design marketplace evolve. They started by focusing on mobile designers, and iOS was the big trend. Now, Android is gaining strength and Scoutzie has extended its focus to web design, as well. In the debate between flat design vs. skeuomorphism – 3D-looking designs that imitate real life, like turning pages – they’ve seen flat design start to emerge as the winner.

Scoutzie’s 550+ designers can also manage their projects, including collaborating with clients and getting paid. And speaking of getting paid: all clients on Scoutzie are vetted to make sure they are legitimate businesses.

Toda and cofounder Kirill Zubovsky believe that the best designs are created when companies build relationships with designers who believe in their vision.

“If budget is your primary concern . . . you may find cheaper options on 99designs or oDesk,” admits Toda. “If you see design as an investment to help you differentiate, it’s about who is the designer that you work with, and that is the part that we emphasize. It’s how do you find the right designer for you?”

Toda grew up in South Africa and Taiwan, and she’s seen foreign designers struggle to get work. So she thinks it’s all the better if the right designer for you happens to be someone in Indonesia or Russia just waiting to be discovered.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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