Sam Brown

On Competition and Recommending Others

The industry that we work in is a popular and crowded one which has multiple levels of separation. There are those that can build websites for next to nothing in their spare time competing for jobs with people who are working their socks off doing this as a full time job day in day out. I think that’s great and there is definitely room for everybody in this space, the caveat being of course that you get what you pay for.

I was sitting with Elliot, Sarah and Jason at an event last year where one of the other patrons at our table was bemused to find out that we were in fact all freelancers competing in the same industry for the same types of jobs, sitting side by side. It came as a bigger shock to him to find out that we are all great friends who meet up regularly in both a professional and social setting.

This is one of the many reasons I love our industry, I’m not sure there are many other industries where competing individuals are so open, friendly and engaging towards each other.

Over the years I have competed for jobs with many of my friends and colleagues, lost some and won others but there is definitely a great level of respect between those involved. If I am too busy to take on any new projects I will 9 times out of 10 forward that potential client onto one of my extended network, this has been reciprocated many times too.

The biggest issue I have is that there is a great wealth of undiscovered talent out there, I’ve been posting shots of upcoming projects to Dribbble which in-itself has turned out to be a superb place to source super talented individuals.

Keeping track of people to pass on work to has become increasingly difficult: Who to recommend? Who is good at what? Who has the availability? More often than not I have been forwarding potential clients onto others that are just as busy as myself leaving the clients scratching their heads. Now, I’m going to scratch my own itch.

Along with my good friend and mighty fine developer Mike Singleton we have been building an app in our spare time that will help people connect through friendly recommendations.

Endorse will allow you to create a profile where you can list all of the people you would personally recommend to others and what you would recommend them for. That’s it. It is really that simple.


It will become an even more powerful tool when you and your extended network list your availability, areas of expertise and desired URLs – not only allowing you to pass on work to your contacts but your contacts will be able to easily and better recommend you to potential clients.

We will be launching Endorse soon and if you are interested in helping test the app, in it’s infancy, in the very near future be sure to follow along on Twitter for updates: @EndorseApp.

Competition is healthy, it pushes you stay at the top of your game and encourages you to continue learning and building on your skill sets. We hope that Endorse will further help you and potential clients find the right people for the right jobs.

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Andy 2 June 2010, 07:06 #1

Can haz beta invite? I’d love to test it, looks fantastic!

Ben Bodien 2 June 2010, 07:09 #2

Really looking forward to seeing this. It’s the sort of thing I’d use on a weekly basis!

Matt 2 June 2010, 07:11 #4

Just when you think everything has now been invented on the web, along comes something great like this!

What a great idea. Definitely something I’d like to try out!

Jack Osborne 2 June 2010, 07:14 #5

Very interesting Mr.Brown, very interesting indeed. Echo Andys comment above +1 on a beta invite please.

Liam McKay 2 June 2010, 07:15 #6

Very nicely put, I love the fact that there’s such an open and free respect between designers and this new app sounds like a nice environment to make use of that. Sounds exciting, definitely would love to get involved in this asap!

Back of luck.

Dave Parsons 2 June 2010, 07:22 #7

Was contemplating this very subject a few weeks ago. Thank you for reading my mind and making this happen! ;)

The design already looks great and can’t to get involved!

Yaili 2 June 2010, 07:23 #8

Hmmm, interesting. I get a couple dozen emails every month about potential work that I’m glad (and do) pass on to a couple of designers in my network. But what happens when I’m in fact taking on new work? Would this app give me the chance of saying that I’m available, hiding my recommendations? I assume I’d be recommending based on expertise.

With the risk of sounding to business-y, I like the concept, because it’s so hard to recommend someone that you can actually trust to do a good work (also, if the client sounds too dodgy or has an unreasonable budget, I don’t want to send bad clients to anyone, so it works both ways), but I’m not sure how it could help a client choose someone to work with…

I’d love to give it a try, because I’m sure you’ve thought of the points I’m making.

MrQwest 2 June 2010, 07:25 #9

Looks great & sounds like a great idea! Like you (and no doubt, countless others), I love the industry we’re in because the competition doesn’t feel like the competition. Its always an enjoyable experience, and Endorse seems like a nice tool to help others in the industry!

Nice work.

Dan 2 June 2010, 07:28 #10

Couldn’t agree more. DIBI was my first experience of a conference and I was blown away by just how open and friendly everyone was even though many of them were direct competitors. It’s the kind of mutual respect that not every industry can carry off.

I used to work in an industry where the level of secrecy and clandestine, cloak and dagger tom-foolery between competitors was a total joke. There’s just no need for it.

Endorse looks great, I’ve been following your dribbble shots of it and progress looks fantastic. I look forward to its release.

Spencer Fry 2 June 2010, 07:30 #11

Looking forward to being an early alpha tester. :)

Colin Hewitt 2 June 2010, 07:34 #12

Nice one Sam. Its a good point. Scratching your own itch is a good thing to be able to do. So I’m sure the app will be great. Maybe we’ll get some work out of it too. (When we’ve got the time of course!)

Phil Coffman 2 June 2010, 07:36 #13

Sounds awesome. I’ve been curious about this since seeing your shots on Dribbble.

Si Jobling 2 June 2010, 07:37 #14

This is exactly why I was keen to setup the Multipack back in 2005. It’s too easy to find cowboy outfits in the Web industry but the really talented individuals seem to be hidden away. By building the network around the West Midlands, we have seen some real success stories come out of it and I’m glad to say, most of the clients have been via referrals.

I’d love to get an invite to and see how the Multipack could benefit from such a service. Recommendations and referrals are, after all, the most reliable (and successful) methods of getting business.

adam 2 June 2010, 07:38 #15

this is pretty awesome . i dont have a full time staff so im always looking for freelancers for client work . I would love it if the app displayed availability , price range , and the type/style the designer is good at . That way i can goto the site determine who’s available and when and book them according to time/availability/interest/skill set designer or developer or both ! please include me in the beta

Iwani 2 June 2010, 07:39 #16

This is a brilliant idea! I’d love to help out with the beta

Alex Swanson 2 June 2010, 07:43 #17

Our industry has always been a friendly yet competitive one. It’s always a challenge to be noticed through such a completive field, but I think something like Endorse will help people with quality work shine through based on the recommendations of others.

I look forward to trying it out!

Lea 2 June 2010, 07:48 #18

Great idea Sam & definitely something I could put to use. In the past, I’ve used LinkedIn to recommend and connect creative folks I’ve worked with to prospective clients when I’ve been too booked up, but it lacks industry specific information. Sounds like Endorse will provide us with the tools needed to help connect creative professionals and help expand our network.

Needless to say, I’m very excited to see this one in action and would love to test the beta!

Mark McCorkell 2 June 2010, 07:53 #19

The idea for this is just brilliant, and I think everyone would benefit from having an app like this available. I haven’t seen anything else like this out there. I’d love to get in on a beta for this! :-)

prisca 2 June 2010, 08:21 #20

Sam, what an excellent idea for an app :) brilliant!
And I wholeheartedly agree about our field and the friendly nature of competitiveness paired with the spirit of sharing knowledge and good practice. Listening to some of the nasty vibes which appear to be present in many other fields – I feel lucky to be involved in webdesign. It does seem to be unique in its sense of sharing, encouragement and such a friendly community (by enlarge anyway).
‘Endorse’ seems to be designed with that spirit! Would be happy to beta test :)

Bree 2 June 2010, 08:31 #21

Wow, what a fantabulous idea! Can’t wait to see the end results of this, it sounds super!
I also agree with everything you’ve spoken in this article. I love how all of us designers/programmers can get along so well even when in competition with each other.

Grant 2 June 2010, 09:08 #22

Nice. I love the idea. It’s always frustrating to have to say no to a potential client. I usually like to be able to say “no, but here’s someone else who might be able to help,” but like you I’m often finding that my entire network of folks is booked.

Michael Dick 2 June 2010, 09:30 #23

Wow, love. Just two days ago I was thinking of how hard it is to find someone to refer a client to.

Will this help us discover reliable/available talent as well?

Erik Ford 2 June 2010, 11:08 #24

I agree with Grant. This is an excellent concept. We’ve recently had to turn away two different clients because we simply don’t have the time at the moment to be of assistance. Unfortunately, none of the additional people in our extended network were available as well. Count us in.

Ryan Lineker 2 June 2010, 11:56 #25

So this is what those extremely sexy shots on Dribbble are going to be for.

Steve Avery 2 June 2010, 12:15 #26

What an amazing idea for an app. Great work all involved. I want in… :)

Sarah Parmenter 3 June 2010, 00:17 #27

Fantastic idea Sam, the app looks fantastic and something I’ll certainly use.

Elliot Jay Stocks 3 June 2010, 00:48 #28

Really excited about this, mate. As an industry we’ve needed something like this for a long time and I know you’re going to make an amazing job of it. Beta invite, pleeeeeeease!

Christoph Zillgens 3 June 2010, 03:25 #29

Looking forward to this, Sam. The dribble shots look great. And a really cool idea for an app! Beta invite please!

Jono 3 June 2010, 04:44 #30

I think some people miss the point. Either that, or I am, ha. is not for finding freelancers to work for you (there are already sites for that out there), but to be able to PASS ON work to other designers you have already know and trust, based on who is available.

Anyway, yes. A fantastic idea.

Kevin Dees 5 June 2010, 08:28 #31

Wow, this sounds great. Will definitely have to give this a go. Would love to have a beta invite.

Will it be invite only, like Dribbble? I love open networks, don’t get me wrong, but there are already hundred of them. Just curious.

Paul Hassing 9 June 2010, 21:10 #32

Nice one, Sam! (and thanks to @nobullit for the heads up). As a copywriter, I’ve been amazed how friendly my ‘competitors’ are on Twitter and blogs. I’ve since decided ‘the pie is infinite’. Your app will help me live this philosophy. Many thanks to you and Mike for enacting this fine idea. Best regards, P. :)

Fitim Blaku 18 June 2010, 19:07 #33

Fantastic idea & and great execution. I just signed up and think its really slick.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.