Shahrouz Varshabi is a New York-based design and technology professional and creative entrepreneur, who turned his challenge of paying his tuition, as well as gaining real-world experience through online freelance projects into an educational standard for young designers. A graduate of Design & Technology at Parsons (class’14), he founded Designity in 2015, a community of local freelance designers who complete projects under art director supervision for quality assurance and training purposes. Through the online platform, one can create their project brief, collaborate with designers in real-time, and process payments, all in one place.
When he came to New York for his Masters, Shahrouz and his fellow classmates faced the same problems upon graduation: getting a job and paying off student loans. “Designers go to school in order to be educated and prepared for the real world. Unfortunately, around 44% of design graduate students find themselves unemployed 6 to 12 months after graduation” –Shahrouz Varshabi. As a solution to this problem, he created an online platform in the form of a bottom-up community built by creatives for creatives and a marketplace for business owners. Designity is working with top design universities and design organizations in the U.S. to provide business owners with a different level of verified designers and supervision under an Art Director. What started off as an online marketplace is now being considered as the first virtual design agency in the world. Designity currently charges a subscription fee (from $30 to $2,000) based on the company size on top of a fixed project fee. The subscription gives business owners access to a dedicated art director on an ongoing basis ensuring better control on the project quality and outputs. This is what clients have to say about the platform, “The art director participation made it easy for us to brainstorm a professional approach with our investor deck design” – Raphael Anstey, Co-founder, and CEO at CircleLink Health
In 2016, Shahrouz’s sister, Sheida Varshabi, joined Designity as a co-founder, together they sought incubation support for Designity with Parsons Entrepreneurial Lab, a design based business incubator dedicated to entrepreneurship and research at The New School. Over 3 years of its operations, Designity has built a user base of over 6000 US based designers and 4000+ business owners. They have completed over 1000 projects and generated an income of over $210,000 with a team of 9 employees. “ELab really made my wish come true. Before I got to ELab, I just had an idea. Now I have an actual company. ELab has given me networking opportunities, as well as required expertise” – Shahrouz Varshabi
Recently, Designity received a funding of $225,000. Don Katz, Founder, and CEO of Audible (an Amazon company) who also founded Newark Venture Partners led the funding with Tom Wisniewski, Managing partner of Newark Venture Partners. “We spent the money to hire more sales, marketing, and art director employees. We’re now a team of 9 full-time. We just started raising our second round which is going to be $750K. Hopefully we will also close this round over the next 6-8 weeks. And again the plan is to grow the team and enhance the product” commented Shahrouz when asked about plans to use the funding money. Designity is not only empowering design students and entrepreneurs but also creating a standard in the creative industry for professional freelance designers and clients who are looking for quality design. Designity aims to be #1 freelancing platform in the world in the near future.
Designity and 5 other companies funded by Newark Venture Partners are pitching to a crowd of 500+ investors and business mentors on June 27th. If you have time please join for this amazing day. You can register here: https://nvpdemoday.splashthat.com/