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Matt Mickiewicz, Founder Of Sitepoint, Flippa & 99Designs, Tells His Story

By Yaro Starak
67 Comments

Matt MickiewiczMatt is the co-founder of one of the very first online forums I spent some time on, SitePoint.com, which today is a massive web community and information site.

Sitepoint became a near-daily visit for me when I was focusing on buying and selling websites. The Sitepoint forums contained a marketplace which became the leading place to buy and sell websites. This section of the community was recently separated into its own site, Flippa.com, which is by far the premier destination for website flipping and has tons of listings and cool features for those interested in buying or selling websites.

Matt and his team recently launched the innovative 99Designs.com service, which is a fantastic idea, linking people who need design work done, with freelance designers. You can submit a project to 99Designs and in a matter of days have up to as many as a hundred potential designs to choose from. You pick the best design, who “wins” the payment for the job, and you get the design.

All three of these sites are tremendously successful, and as a result Matt has established himself as a leading player in the web development community online.

In this interview Matt takes us back to the very beginning of his online success story, starting with his first website created when he was just 15 years old. Matt found himself on the phone closing $10,000 advertising deals in between classes at school, earning enough to buy himself a new BMW with cash by the time he was just 16.

This is an incredible story of big time online success, yet Matt still works from his home office in Vancouver. His business partner lives in Melbourne, where they have an office and team, and there’s also a smaller office and team in San Francisco.

If you’re thinking big with your online business, this is definitely an interview to listen to. Matt reveals how his sites have grown large, how they test different methods to make money and what today is their largest income stream.

Special Bonus From Matt

Right at the end of the interview Matt surprised me with a special offer to try out 99Designs. If you need some design work done I strongly recommend this service, I just used it myself to get a logo done for my next project and it was a great experience.

If you post a project on 99Designs before July 15 and then send an email to matt@99designs.com including the URL of your 99Designs project listing, Matt will upgrade your listing and throw in some other bonuses.

99Designs can be used for more than just logos, so if you need a website designed, a custom WordPress blog them, your business card or stationary designed, flyers, leaflets or pretty much any design work you can think of, 99Designs is a great opportunity to get lots of options created, and you just choose your favorite.

Thanks to Matt for the interview and the bonus offer.

Here is the interview link again -

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67 Comments

  • Amazing interview Yaro. This is truly a good interview because it is so inspiring to learn this young guy’s story. Sitepoint is just an amazing forum and so is Flippa (haven’t seen 99designs yet).

  • Amazing story. And really motivational.

    Regarding 99 Designs…Is it a freelancing/outsourcing site? How does it differ to regular freelancing/outsourcing sites?

    Thanks,
    Nabeel

    • In other outsourcing marketplaces like oDesk, you get back bids or quotes. Since design is so personal and aesthetic based, even if someone has a great portfolio and good reviews from other buyers, there is no guarantee that they’ll be able to produce something that you like.

      On 99designs on the other hand, you get back dozens or hundreds of actual design concepts and you work with the designers over a week to revise and iterate the concepts until you’re happy. The best way to explain it is to look at a sample project:

      http://99designs.com/sxsw (this one is for t-shirt design, but obviously we’ve done blogs, logos, banners, wine labels, book covers, etc.)

      • Yeah, this is a great idea if you like to work for free. Let’s put this scenario into other situations. You go out and eat every night of the week at a different restaurant, and the end of the week, you pick the restaurant you thought prepared the best meal and “reward” them by paying not their bill but what you want to pay while the other 4 are out their time and effort. Sounds great to me! Not so great for the others. How about you go see 4 or 5 movies, then choose the one you liked best and only pay for that one? A professional designer is a trained and seasoned professional who not only designs what the client wants after in depth conversations, but also walks the design through the printing process. The designers and client often build a relationship that lasts through several projects, not just one. In the example shown there were 658 entries, all but 37 were eliminated and if you look through those, a lot of them were utter crap (there are a lot of untrained amateurs opening the client up to possible plagiarism and copyright infringement). Maybe I should go to SXSW and see 20 bands and then only pay the cover charge for the one band I liked best, nevermind that they all worked hard. Mr. Mickiewicz has made millions off of the hard work of the many people he has asked to work for FREE. Free doesn’t feed our families nor pay our bills. Look at the “winner” of the example “contest”, he’s entered 50 “contests” meaning at least 50 designs (if it was one per project) and has only been paid for ONE! (for this design he was paid $500, but average over the 50 that he worked on, he only made $10 for his design) Say he spent 5 hours on each “contest” design, his payment would be $2 per hour. Even illegals make more than that. The World Series just ended, by 99 Designs thought, the SF Giants would be the only ball players who would be paid for the season (btw, the last time they won, or by 99 D’s thought, been paid was 1954) .Do you think all these guys would still play ball? 99 Designs should pay a fair wage to it’s workers, even $1 per design submitted would be better than nothing…

        • MsTree

          Dave,

          I could not agree with you more! Sites like these basically boil down to designers literally having to work for free. What’s more, I’ve seen so many of these “designers” blatantly copy work of other designers and/or use vector stock right in their work, without any changes. So, another item clients do not realize, is that there is a LOT of plagiarism and copyright infringement that takes place without any sort of real control that a place like 99designs bothers to regulate. Also, a lot of the work done is sub par and is awful, so in a sense…the client ends up getting what they pay for and in so, servers them right.

  • Yaro,

    You’ve really been on top of the “interview sharing” with some great insight so, wanted to say thanks.

    This one’s for you;
    Not sure if you are aware, it’s been a while now, at first I thought there was just some site re-vamping you were doing that caused it but, your search button has not been working in a while, may want to check it out.

    Also, NICE, new optin popup! Not sure if you noticed (cause I have never seen any other blog do this) you DO know every time you re-fresh or go to another page it pops backup?

    Note: I have a STRONG formal and 23 yrs. in the field sales background & experience. I would (humbly) love to share something with you (no, I’m not selling you anything:) just a standing on the outside looking in through the window view).

    Shoot me an e-mail, (b4 I forget what this was about,HAH!:)

    Kind regards,

    Joseph

    PS: I can do a podcast with you just on a new mastermind member taking your advice on resources in setting up a new blog and all the intricacies, thought process, mindmap and layout throughout its metamorphosis. I want to thank you and mention I have become a “Raving Fan” Big time, Joel, the blogtechguy has got to be one of the most professional, amazing, accommodating, kind, talented, responsive, quick, honest and easy person I have EVER (I have a staff of over 40) worked with. Thanks again for the referral.

  • [...] The thirteen episode premiered this past Friday the 28th of August. Every episode and has added value to EcoGreenHotel and hopefully to our visitors. Episode 13 was no different [...]

  • Really been enjoying these interviews you’ve been doing Yaro, I loved Matt’s interview since I’ve often followed his websites, I’ve really become a big fan of his latest 99 Designs website.

    Till then,

    Jean

  • Thanks for sharing this Yaro. You’re really good when it comes to posting interviews to this blog. I’ve been learning a lot from other guys you’ve interviewed as well.

    Keep it up!

    Gary

  • Very good interview.

    Have you ever interviewed anyone who has made money from blogging but comes from a background where they had no idea how to do it before they started?

    I’d be inerested in hearing that one.

    • That would be interesting to see an interview with someone who knew nothing when they started. It could actually be a cool case study.

      • I must admit I always thought Matt was a programmer before he started.

        • @viral marketing, just out of curiosity, what gave you that impression?

          Till then,

          Jean

  • Yaro, you’re been doing a great job with the massive flood of interviews after interviews after interviews! Thank you so much for these high quality content, and they’re kick-in-the-butt inspirational to boot! I like them.

    Been following your blog for a while now, i think close to 6 months or more, and I must say: your blog have been so educational. Think I learnt more here about blogging and internet marketing more than anywhere. Plus I like your style – chill, not so in your face, and informatively rich.

    I’ve blown out my investment funds, but I think I’m looking to joining your blogmastermind program by end of 2010 or early 2011.

    Keep the good stuff coming mate!

    Nigel

  • Very interesting interview…. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Matt’s story is a great lesson for marketers: find out what your market wants/needs, develop a product and selling it to them.

    Great interview.

  • What about the domain, hosting, website – what information does the previous owner have to give me as proof that I am the new owner of the website??

    • Your domain gets pushed to you so you usually get a confirmation email from your registrar. You should really use your own host too. Besides, it’s a good idea to setup a quick contract especially if you are dealing with expensive sites.

      • Yeah, that’s a great idea especially if you plan on expanding it further down the line. You must as well use your own hosting domain. Thanks for the info @Viral Marketing.

  • I went to sitepoint and checked out on some turnkey sites being sold. How do I go about buying a website?

  • This is a great interview, its amazing to see he became so successful at such a young age. SitePoint is an amazing site and its good to get to know the person behind it. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Amazing Interview, after listening to this, it gives you a boost, that if you relay want to achieve something, you can go and do it.
    Securing deals between lessons – genius :)

  • I must say I was not the biggest fan of Sitepoint but Flippa was a right move. Just what people needed. I use it myself every other week. Should be an interesting interview.

  • I am a member on SitePoint but I didn’t know about 99 designs! Will definitely be signing up for that soon!

  • Good Interview . Very interesting and good story I have heard lots of positive feedback about 99designs.com its suppose be really good vibe as well. Well done Matt , Great concept

  • Making $16000 deal at the age of 15 shows that online business has no limitation. Great stuff Yaro, I am checking out the 99Designs site later as I am looking for a designer.

  • I agree. He won’t get any higher than that, but he’ll keep trying. He has the tenacity of a much bigger and smarter animal.

  • it is just very interesting interview Yaro. This is exactly a very great interview and inspired me as well especially with a very young guy with a successful story. One day I wish I might be like you and person you interviewed

  • 99 Designs sounds like a very powerful tool indeed. As a person that likes to do everything himself, I know that I could really use some help in certain areas. I will be checking it out soon.

    Great interview once again Yaro. These how-I-built-it posts are very powerful and a great way to show your audience the way that other business owners have built a small empire.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • I definitely agree that SitePoint is a great site. I’m visiting it almost on daily basis and there’s always something new to learn. The interview with Matt Mickiewicz is pretty nice and although it is half an hour long, I never got bored of it. Certainly an interesting story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the info. I do need a couple logos designed and was looking for a new company. I will have to check them out.

    • They do have a minimum of $211 that needs to be spent in order to receive a logo, it may seem high, but I’m pretty sure that the quality will be high as well.

      • It is well worth it, especially if you get a popular submission and get alot of choices to choose from, you’re almost guaranteed to have a hard time choosing which one to use!

        Till then,

        Jean

      • $211 sounds high? I’d like to know what your company offers for $211. You’re in email marketing, right? Could I get 20 different custom email marketing plans $211? I’d like to see 20 finished email marketing plans by 20 different Email Marketers and after you do your work, I’ll pick the one I like best and pay that person $211 and the other 19 will have worked for FREE, sounds good right?

        • $211 is sounding high because there are many other options available.

          Like you can start a contest in any popular forum free of cost with the prize money of $50 and believe me you will get tonnes of response.

  • I have been using Flippa for a long time now and I use it to buy all of my websites

  • This looks like a cool idea. 99designs, I will check that out right now. Always looking for new designs. What I don’t get is you choose one design out of many, but the others that you reject they do not get paid right? That makes it a very competitive market. It kind of doesn’t seem fair really.

    • Thank you for noticing Andy, nobody likes to work for free. Makes it hard to earn a living…

  • I also enjoy these interviews you’ve been doing Yaro, I loved Matt’s interview since I’ve often followed his websites, I’ve am a big fan of his latest 99 Designs website.

  • This is really helpful and inspiring to all kinds of Internet marketers! When we come across such things in life we can certainly have the chance to develop a new burst of energy from us. I really appreciate your work in sharing this interview!

  • Amazing interview!. I will check out Sitepoint and Flippa to see what they have in there.

    Yaro, thanks for sharing this and keep up the good work.

  • Wow, I sure did not know, Matt has achieved a lot in young age! I am sure luck and hard work are part of it. Great job, impressive.

  • I love flippa.com, and site point. I have to check out the 99design soon, great story of a young Matt. Web design is very important in information age that we are in, should be great info, thanks for sharing.

  • I had a bad experience on 99designs, especially since I am not into “speculative” jobs, and the site is all about this. Of course, for people who cannot easily get a “real” gig this is a good place to show their skills and hope the client is smart enough to understand their value. There are people who are successfully using it, so, even if it’s not my cup of tea, the site is not bad at all.

    I haven’t used flippa yet, had another bad experience with a similar site and for now I am cool. But, when I’d want to sell a site, that’s the place to use.

    Sitepoint is one of the best webmaster forums out there. Even if, for the past years, it’s more than just a community, the quality of the content and people there is unrivaled. Excellent job on creating such an amazing place.

  • Great interview Matt is definitely someone to learn from, I really enjoy his sites.

  • Great interview, really interesting to hear a little more about flippa in particular. I’m a frequent user, so this gave me some great interesting background. Inspiring guy!

  • Matt is such an inspiration and so productive it’s scary. It’s crazy to imagine that he’s made so many websites that have become staples within the online community – definitely gonna give this one a listen.

  • Lovely interview Yaro. I’ve used 99designs for a long while (i still use it :)

    Btw, I remember the times when domain names were THAT high priced :)

  • 99Designs crapper be utilised for more than meet logos, so if you requirement a website designed, a bespoken WordPress journal them, your playing bill or stationary designed, flyers, leaflets or pretty such some organisation impact you crapper conceive of, 99Designs is a enthusiastic possibleness to intend lots of options created, and you meet opt your favorite.

  • Another one very well done. I love how Matt started in high school making thousands during lunchtime while everyone else was goofing off and flirting. It’s a great example of someone who loves his work and really worked hard for success. 99Designs is a great concept of crowd sourcing, which is catching on a lot lately.

  • He is such a genius to make $10,000 in school. I like his 99designs idea.

  • Good interview Yaro. I’ve been using 99Designs to outsource some of my work for some time now and all I can say it’s been a pleasant experience. It’s like having a team of people ready to jump aboard if you’re calling for help. A great way to outsource design work. I highly recommend it.

  • [...] Further: Interview With Matt At Entrepreneurs-Journey Interview With Matt At MillionaireAt24 Interview With Matt At RetireAt21 Interview With Matt At [...]

  • Support sounds good, reading other peoples comments. If I am on the fence, good support swings it for me.

  • [...] A great episode is the one Matt Mickiewicz (try to say that last name after a couple of cold beers), the founder of Sitepoint, Flippa and 99Designs: Matt Mickiewicz, Founder Of Sitepoint, Flippa & 99Designs, Tells His Story [...]

  • M

    99Designs is a waste of time for designers. Competing for pay on completed projects? Hell no!

  • Yea this guy is a real genius….i love working for free and NOT getting paid! It’s a fun time! Gone are the days of working relationships with clients and actually getting to know a client. Oh and your $211 that u pay for a logo…the designer sees about $50 of it…no wonder he’s rich! I’m so glad to read about another rich genius who is getting his money off the backs of hard working people!

    • Aquascope

      Is that a bad thing? The designer has free will to choose another more lucrative way to earn income. If there are designers at that price willing to work then the economic requirements for demand are met and its a valid business model.

      Thinly veiled inferences that Matt is somehow unethical for taking his cut in providing a platform for this to even occur are laughable.

  • Ive used 99designs in the past. Such a good idea!

  • Transferring this into the mp3 format is really a good idea.

    Now I can enjoy this interview at any where and this kind of interview you need to hear again and again.

  • [...] is Matt-Mickiewicz and how you can work for [...]

  • [...] to take Matt’s existing site, webmaster-resources.com, and re-launch it as sitepoint.com. In this interview for Entrepreneurs-Journey.com, Matt describes taking calls from ad buyers on his late-90s [...]

  • [...] Or another story of SitePoint.com / Flippa.com (latter was sinned from Sitepoint forums and grew exponentially because the power of already existing community and audience on original site). And this has grown They now are doing doing $88 million turnover (Flippa.com alone) and growing (again if you have one hour to spare you can watch their story told by by founder Matt). [...]

  • I have not used 99Designs before, but I have tried Logo Nerds.

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