Despite a few impending obstacles to overcome, crowdsourcing has made substantial headway in Latin America in recent years. The concept has proven applicable in diverse areas, from fundraising and charity to finance and even film. And now, Tree Labs alum and Brazilian startup ClickARQ is testing out the potential of crowdsourcing in architecture and design.
Through the ClickARQ platform, users can search for and connect with decorators, designers and architects to execute their design projects. Clients input a short briefing of what they’re seeking, the price range they’re willing to pay and a timeframe for completion. Once they’ve selected a vendor, they are able to manage the job through ClickARQ as well.
ClickARQ was founded by Michel Wajs and Renato Nigri in partnership with Moris Moas. The three were always interested in the crowdsourcing model, and after feeling dissatisfied with a design project of their own, they decided to approach the issue with a digital twist. Through ClickARQ, consumers have access to a wider range of options at more affordable prices than what they’re faced with in the offline realm.
The beta version of ClickARQ launched in July of this year. Though the company has not yet made any relevant investments in marketing, it has gathered a community of nearly 500 architects, decorators and creators on its platform and has been responsible for the completion of projects for 20 different clients. Nigri spoke with us to give us some further insight into this new design-focused crowdsourcing startup.
Emily Stewart: What challenges have you faced in taking a sector that is traditionally offline to the online world?
Renato Nigri: The biggest challenge has been explaining to clients that they will have their places decorated by a person who has never visited the space. Also, educating Brazilians on how the crowdsourcing model works has been a challenging task, as they are not used to using the concept. Fortunately, we have been successful in this mission, and we can easily conclude that Brazil is ready for this product.
Another difficulty was facing professional architects who believed that our prices were too low for a decoration project and that the quality of the ideas sent would be very poor. Fortunately, we have proven that our creators are very skilled, and they have been doing fantastic work. Our prices are still low, and our clients are really happy. We are helping a lot people make their homes a better place to live.
ES: What have your results been thus far?
RN: Our product has a strong appeal. Decoration is something very cool, and everyone likes it. A lot of people go to our Facebook page and our blog just to see our new posts and the work that is being done through ClickARQ.
We are really happy with the success we are having within the architectural community – we didn’t expect to have such a large number of creators registering on our site considering our very quiet marketing campaign. We were always very confident with the quality of our community, and it has proven to have a lot of potential. We knew our clients would be satisfied with what they received.
ES: How are your designers vetted?
RN: We have not put in place any limitations for designers to register on our platform. Whoever wants to participate can send decoration ideas. However, we have an architect on the team who looks at every idea sent to avoid publishing designs if the quality of the job is not up to par.
ES: Who are your competitors, and what makes you stand out?
RN: We currently don’t have any competitors in Brazil. In United States, the model already exists; however, we don’t compete directly.
Even though we don’t yet have competitors, we are constantly innovating to raise entry barriers in the market. Besides completing projects, we also indicate places where the client can buy the products to execute his or her project and earn commissions with those transactions. We already have partnerships with several important decoration stores.
We have connections with a very big Brazilian homebuilder, therefore our network includes the most famous architects, decorators and decoration stores of the country. As a result, we have been able to reach a lot of creators and clients and have the potential to launch campaigns with these market players. We don’t think anyone else can have access to these people as easily as ClickARQ, and this is a very effective way to strengthen the brand.
ES: What did you get out of the Tree Labs acceleration experience? What are your plans moving forward?
RN: The most important thing we learn here was to test our product and business model all the time and make constant improvements to attract more clients. Our mentors constantly reminded us that when you are not testing, you are wasting time. We are looking to raise our first round of funding this month in order to expand our IT team and offer our users the best possible experience.