Crew turned two years old this February.
Which is crazy because it doesn’t feel like that long ago when we first started working out of my co-founder Steph’s parent’s basement.
I lived in that same basement for over 6 years. We had no connections. I was $40,000 in student debt.
Along the way, we made 3 major changes to our business model.
And our company almost died. Twice.
Although we didn’t start with much and at times it looked like we might not be going anywhere, we never gave up.
We never gave up on each other and we never gave up on what we wanted to do: make a positive impact for creators.
It feels unreal to see how far we’ve come.
Here’s a recap of what’s happened in the first two years of Crew (click image to see full size):
Crew is becoming much more than just a piece of software.
It’s now a source of livelihood.
We’ve booked over $2 million in work for independent professionals across 102 cities and 32 countries.
Today, some of our members make most or all of their living through Crew. This puts us on our way to one of the goals we had since starting the company:
To deliver a consistent stream of high-quality work for creative professionals so they can focus on their craft. So they don’t have to worry where their next project will come from or chase down a late payment. So they can do work they love.
Making an environment that’s comfortable for creative professionals is the best way to foster high-quality creative results.
I fell in love with design the moment I stepped into my first job at a studio. I fell in love with the aura. Every day I got to be around makers. Designers. Developers. Artists. And people with ideas that could create change in the world.
But the challenges that came along with turning those ideas into reality heavily impacted me too. I used to see great designers show up with bags under their eyes. They were so stressed out you could feel it through their work.
I saw clients so frustrated by the creative process that a relationship that took months to create could start to fall apart within hours.
I eventually ended up working as an independent designer myself and tried to create the right set of processes that would be best for creative output. I had conversations with other creative professionals, agencies, and studios and studied the ways of those I wanted to be like. From my experiences, these conversations, and my research, I learned there were so many issues that can easily happen in the creative process.
Budgets can be off. People get taken advantage of. Projects get delayed. Poor communication. Threats.
When these things happen, you can’t think about making the best thing possible or even what’s best for the project.
Everyone moves into defensive mode. And this is a death sentence for creative work.
At Crew, our aim is to create an environment that inspires creativity. To be a safe harbor for creators and get rid of the barriers in the creative process so making things together feels fun. Today, every business is an online business. Which means every business needs some sort of digital work: a website, a graphic, a logo, an app, an email newsletter, an online store.
We want to give people access to the best creative minds in the world so they can succeed in this new era of business. And at the same time, give independent professionals a consistent amount of work they enjoy doing.
Crew has been a part of turning some incredible ideas into reality:
These ideas and many others have turned into products and evolved into businesses. They’ve gone on to raise venture capital funding, be featured in App Stores across the world, and appear on the Today Show.
Crew is a community. One that represents a new era of work.
Where we are going
We are at the start of the most significant economic movement since the Industrial Revolution. In the next few years there will be more independent professionals than full-time employees.
Work is being redefined by the tools available today. We have more power than ever before to be our own bosses. To stay independent. To develop our own passions.
We’re building the space where doing exceptional creative work together feels simple and accessible, whether you’re thousands of miles apart or sitting side by side. An environment that breathes life into creative projects.
Our vision has started to turn into reality but Crew is still young and there’s so much more we’re going to do to make creating things together easy.
We’re raising $8 million
Today, we’re happy to announce we’re raising a new $8 million investment to help us move closer toward this vision.
It will be lead by one of our current investors, FKA (formerly Atlas Venture Tech). We’ve worked with FKA since they lead our $2 million investment last year. We love how aligned they are with where we want to go and they have a huge amount of experience investing in businesses that support makers – AngelList, Creative Market, Moo, and Custom Made.
Investors who have also committed to participating in this round include iNovia Capital, Real Ventures, Boldstart Venture Capital, BDC Capital, Launch Capital, and LDV Capital.
Along with Crew, we’ll continue to build tools for the creative community. One of these tools, Unsplash, has started to become a key resource. To get a sense for the impact of Unsplash, here’s some numbers (click image to see full size):
When companies raise money, sometimes there’s a fear that growth at all costs is the goal until the company sells in a couple years.
That is not our intent. We’re doing things a different way. Our way.
One of the reasons why we chose to start Crew was because we could see ourselves building it for decades even if we never got a dime of funding.
We’re careful with each and every thing we build into Crew. It doesn’t matter if something is best or easiest for us. It only matters what’s best for you. Our community.
We vet every project and member before acceptance into Crew.
We turn away more than half the business we get because it’s not the right fit.
We pull an all-nighter switching payment providers so we can make sure every member in every country is paid on time.
We plan on being in business for a long time. And the only way to do this is to stand by you. Our members.
The main reason we’re raising money is so we can make a bigger impact for the creative community, faster. We’ll continue to work toward building the right system that makes the right environment for creative work. We’ll continue to build the type of community that values the work done, not just the dollar price. We have over 500 creative professionals accepted to Crew and over 5,000 more on our invite list. We want to deliver as much high-quality work as possible to each of these members while giving people access to the best creative talent in the world.
We’re going to grow a team and put the right systems in place that will benefit every Crew member.
We felt raising an investment should be no different. This is why we wanted to share all the details of this investment with you by publicly posting them on our AngelList profile before the round is officially closed. We’ve included things like our valuation ($23M pre-money) and our revenue numbers.
We’re building Crew for you. For people who want to make their own path.
Our plan is for the long-term, to re-imagine the entire creative process, and design the world’s best community for creatives.
When we remove the barriers that accompany creative work, greatness can be the result. But we can only reach greatness together.
Thank you. Whether you’re a member, a customer, a subscriber, a partner, an investor, or friend, thank you for being part of our community. We wouldn’t be anywhere without you.