Sam Brown

Endorse - What it is and what it is not.

Endorse – Helping people connect through friendly recommendations.

I get a fair amount of request for work each week and I simply can not take on all of these jobs. I’ve been talking about and threatening to build a tool that allowed me to find out who was available for work and what they were good at, so I could pass on these excess job requests for a long time now. Yesterday Mike and I released a beta of said web app to a limited following.


We hope it will allow you to easily find people in your immediate and extended networks who have availability, and likewise, if you are indeed looking for work allow you to connect with others, promote your skills and hopefully increase your work load.

Search is Key

It might not seem so now as we build a user base but it will be, believe me. You can already begin to see this in action. Perhaps a client requires a copywriter, I personally don’t know any brilliant copywriters but using Endorse I can search both my 1st and 2nd degree networks for available talent.

Endorse search first crawls your network and then your networks network. If for example Mike is endorsing a copywriter the chances are I’m going to trust Mike’s recommendation as much as one I would have made myself. We are trying to give you access to an even larger pool of talented people.

Wise Words

“I think will be truly useful & successful if we honestly only endorse those we’d recommend, not reciprocal back-scratching.” – @simoncollison

“Sorry folks, I can only endorse people I know and have worked with. Otherwise it’s meaningless innit?” – @Hicksdesign

Simon & Jon are right. We have built this app as a tool to help people connect with other talented people. Of course everyone is going to use it in a slightly different way but the premise is you are recommending your network of talented people to another. If a previous potential client of yours does some work with someone you have frivolously endorsed and has a bad experience, that could reflect badly on you. Hopefully that never happens and you are only endorsing people you would genuinely recommend to others based on your experiences with that person.

It’s an evolving concept and we are already seeing some interesting use cases.

Launching Soon

We are still in beta and this is not a closed, private or invite-only network for the webs elite. We need to scale. We did limited testing behind closed-doors to iron out any bugs and now we are trying to iron out any bottlenecks and get people on-board.

To be completely honest we can’t afford to let everyone have at it at once. We are running on Heroku and were constantly having to increase capacity, so much so that for most of yesterday running the site was costing us personally, more than $500USD/m – we need to limit that.

We will be letting anyone and everyone get access to Endorse, but we have to stagger the influx so as not to bankrupt ourselves or ruin the overall experience. This is a completely self-funded app just now while we explore some possible partnerships.

Hopefully now that you know all of this, some of these quotes will make for some jovial reading:

“ will do nothing more than support the sycophancy that plagues our industry.”

“I’m totally on board with the “Designers really love each other” motif Dribbble has, but is taking it a little too far.”

“Another popularity contest?”

“Will be the next exclusive web designer site, I’m surprised they don’t just let you use your dribbble login!”

and my personal favourite:

“ was probably built by nerds who felt it necessary to contribute to the social media circle jerk symposium. Therefore it will not matter. I give it six months and yes, I’m being waaay to generous here.”


If you are interested in getting involved and using Endorse as soon as possible then following our Twitter account @EndorseApp will help you find out when and how. We will be launching completely openly to everyone soon, when the time is right. I hope people genuinely find it useful and would again like to thank everyone for their kind words yesterday.

Post a link to this on Twitter ↩


Tim Van Damme 10 June 2010, 03:55 #1

What a load of cock (I’m talking about those quotes). Endorse is all about connecting good clients with good freelancers, giving people who aren’t fully booked for months in advance the option to do more work, and giving clients the chance to connect with good freelancers, even if they don’t know any.

Circle jerking? Do you want people to endorse others for the sake of endorsing and create a meaningless list? I only put people on my list I know I can trust with my clients. This will be key to the quality of the app, and I really hope people think about this before they add someone just because he asked on Twitter.


Ross Chapman 10 June 2010, 04:08 #3

Wow. Some people just don’t get it. It’s not for everyone, but it does give the web something that’s been lacking – trust.

Some of us have got burned in the past working with people who we don’t know – Endorse will ultimately help freelancers with their workload and clients will benefit in the end.

Well done Sam – for taking a leap of faith and doing something (unlike some moaning souls).

Sarah Parmenter 10 June 2010, 04:09 #4

Whenever I see “popularity contest” and comments regarding the “elite nature” of our industry, I can’t help but visualise them coming from people who spend all day in their boxer shorts on an xbox…but that’s just me.

DanC 10 June 2010, 04:11 #5

I agree with Mr Van Damme in stating that any endorsements you make, you HAVE to know that you can trust them to do the same quality of work that you would. Otherwise the whole thing collapses, there will be lost trust on all side, nobody benefits and this would be a real shame.

The main reason I haven’t gotten involved is I’m still fairly new to the industry and haven’t yet collaborated with anyone else on a project. Although I could go on and endorse a whole host of people I KNOW are great designers, like Sam and Tim, that would be pointless. I haven’t worked with them and I’m sure my level of client is somewhat different to theirs as well!

Although I can understand the elitist comments, they are rally only shooting themselves down if they don’t use It is tool to help them within their own networks so why not use it? Some people would rather just complain than give something a try.

Ryan Downie 10 June 2010, 04:15 #6

I dont know why people are hating this product and dribble, both are great in their own way.

You and Mike have created something that will be invaluable, as long as people use it correctly. We will be looking for things like a freelance Magneto developer, Advanced Jquery scripting etc and this will be perfect. Like you said I can check my networks and see who is free and then contact the person recommending them as I will no doubt have them on IM and go from there.

I just hope people don’t go around and follow cliques etc. And for the people who are bitching about not getting on to the invite, it has been around twitter for last few days maybe longer on how to get an invite. They are just too lazy.

Jono 10 June 2010, 04:19 #7

I’m on both Dribbble & (although I’ve never worked closely with anyone I’ve seen on the network yet). I personally think is a fantastic idea, and Sam & Mike have done a wonderful job so far in very limited time.

I’ve noticed the general stigma of people that exist outside what they deem to be (or what really is) an “exclusive” network is one of three things:

1. They have no strong interest either way.

2. They are desperate to become part of a society they don’t belong.

3. They have no interest because they deem members of the society to be elitist (to be honest, even being on the inside it can feel that way sometimes).

In the end I figure when people on the “outside” just don’t get it, it’s up to them to take another look + reassess, and up to us to communicate to them better something they don’t understand.

Stuart Robson 10 June 2010, 04:20 #8

So, I’m slightly perplexed. It’s a fantastic idea, I do absolutely love it and think this is a good thing. but (see the little b) how does a ‘noob’ (f**king hate that word) get on the list if the endorsed people are people that you’ve worked with or know ? – doesn’t that make it a little elitist still ? – probably not, I do tend to talk a lot of arse. Especially if my comment has this many words in it :) oh and I smile to much and use it instead of punctuation.

To Sumarise – great work! I really understand and agree with the philosophy behind it. (You see ‘philosophy’ didn’t need to use that word :) and another bloody smile :) )

Kieran 10 June 2010, 04:21 #9

I really like what you’ve done with endorse. It’s a bit like the LinkedIn recommendation model but without the need to write an essay explaining how wonderful the person is (who has the time or inclination for that?).

Of course, the long-term success will depend on people using to add people they’ve ACTUALLY worked with and can account for.

Good job and well implemented!

One thing I’d say is maybe the “Areas of Expertise” data could get a bit unwieldy after a while, what with all the different variations of the same skills people are adding (plus it’s not obvious immediately that it’s a free-text field.

Mark McCorkell 10 June 2010, 04:21 #10

I bet these guys making those negative comments are just lonely Developers who sit around all day reading their RSS feeds just looking to seize an opportunity to reprise their roles as “trolls” of the interweb. They act elitist but it’s really just a cover up for their own insecurities.

On a positive note – Endorse is a spark of genius. Keep it up, Sam.

Dave 10 June 2010, 04:23 #11

I’ve not seen the backend of the application and don’t really have any need to use the Beta (I haven’t worked with anybody to endorse or be by). However, just from seeing the the public facing pages of people who are on it perhaps a future feature would be to list the things you have worked together on?

That way, people can’t see this as a ‘I like this person, so I’ll add them’. It’s saying, ‘This is why I endorse this person, we’ve worked together (in some capacity) on this’

And to all those who don’t like the fact that their not a ‘big name’ designer – work your fucking nuts off to become one if it is that important to you. That’s how they did it!

Toby Howarth 10 June 2010, 04:25 #12

Firstly I am concerned for Sazzy and her visualisations….

Secondly I am new to web world working on building my skill set before making a real push sometime in the future and maybe get a Junior Web Job. However even though new I can see the value that holds and because of that I won’t go around recommending all the designers I know because they will be endorsed by the people who have actually worked with them and know them well enough to say they trust them. Sure I know the work that the Tims, Elliots and Sams of this world is good but I have never worked for or with them and don’t know them so how can I endorse them ?!.

As for those who can only see as some sort of club, they should really take a long hard look at themselves and perhaps try the app out first before getting themselves all worked up.

Fingers crossed that people treat with the respect it deserves and it becomes a valuable tool for designers and developers : )

Great work Sam and Mike.

Carl 10 June 2010, 04:27 #13

I really like the idea and I hope it really works out well. It really has a great deal of potential. The negative comments are just from people who wished they had come up with the idea themselves.

Stuart Robson 10 June 2010, 04:29 #14

ooh, I agree with what David said, adding a – we’ve worked on these projects (with links) – would be a good way to eradicate the – i like you – posts

kyee 10 June 2010, 04:36 #15

its a nice idea, not one that I will get much use out of myself but you gotta love haters!

There is a saying from someone I forget that goes “if you dont have haters you are doing something wrong!” so there you go.

Also, linkedin has a lot of these features no? so how come they arent away bashing linkedin.

Johny Favourite 10 June 2010, 04:47 #16

Stuart – the worry about being a ‘noob’ is one that I guess many share (me included cries). However I often think of the times some of these ‘elitist bunch’ (who have all the fun btw – if I mentioned in a comment that I was thinking about Sarah in her underwear all day there would be cries of “pervert” from all corners but she can think of me in my boxer shorts – :) ) branch out on with their tweets when they are stuck/want advice on something (I’m going to name drop – Elliot and Ryan Carson have in the past – so you might think I’m elitist too). This might be your chance to help and get that recommendation. Show your stuff. There is always opportunities to shine if you keep your eyes open.

kyee 10 June 2010, 04:58 #17

who cares about elitism? only the elitists. Therefore it doesnt matter. Clients wont give a shit how many people kiss your ass on dribbble, they will care about the quality of work and service.

Mike Breen 10 June 2010, 05:00 #18

Hashrocket made an attempted at this in the Ruby/Rails dev space with and it just fizzled out.

Stuart Robson 10 June 2010, 05:03 #19

Johny, I don’t think of it as elitist at all and I slightly agree with your comments about @sazzy (if the foot was in the other shoe, not her in her underwear all day :) ) I quite often have quick tweets with ryan and @carsonified, I think they’re the most open bunch of everyone I follow. I’d love to shine, but at the moment it’s all a pipe dream, my current work is a complete juxtoposition of my ‘freelance’ career. I deal with conference set design all day and juggle about an hour or two a night whilst feeding, bathing and putting to bed my 10 month old son. But hopefully soon I’ll have some stuff to share I’ll be really proud of.

Even though I use ‘noob’ to include my self, I’ve been dipping into web design since 1997 way back when Dreamweaver 4 was a huge release and css was all to do with weird layers i didn’t understand. My period of haitus – 1999-2005 was my worst decision :)

Sean Delaney 10 June 2010, 05:07 #20

I agree with both Tim and Sarah’s comments, but I think what Tim has said is so true – why endorse people you do not know? It seems silly…

Endorse is a great little web app that will hopefully grow a lot bigger in time to come and be a great resource for outsourcing work or winning work among friends and clients.

Congrats to Sam and Mike on they’re hard work designing and developing Endorse.

Cheers guys!

David Parsons 10 June 2010, 05:12 #21

There will always be people who bitch and whine. Fact of life.

The idea is sound, the execution is lickable and personally I will genuinely find it useful. Other people will too.

Kudos to you and Mike.

Christoph Zillgens 10 June 2010, 05:23 #22

Can’t understand those jealous negative comments. If I haven’t anything to contribute, I’d shut up.
On the other hand: »Jealousy is the highest form of appreciation«, somebody once said.

Thumbs up, great work!

Shawn Wall 10 June 2010, 05:26 #23

No one can get something right when it’s first out the door, so no one should expect that from the user side. nailed it on the design, and I’m sure we’ll see more features trickle in along the way.

My only constructive feedback is some of us are quite good at more than three things, so you should convey these are your top skills, or possibly allow the choice of more. Also, I hope you have plans to monetize this in some manner so that it actually can stay running :)

Ben 10 June 2010, 06:57 #24

I think Dawes said it best:

“I’ve got to say this. The UK web design scene is often just self serving, indulgent bullshit perptuated by friends of friends. Count me out.”

Congratulations on creating yet another site were the freelance web design elite can pat each other on the back. The quote about logging in with your dribble details is pretty apt. I think the negative nature of the comments from many people shows you what “the rest of us” think, and by that I mean the designers and developers who are more than happy to do a solid job and get paid for it, without trying to force some sort of e-celebrity persona. Notice that most of the comments in defence of the quotes in the article come from the aforementioned “web design elite” or people that desperately want to be considered as that.

Kevin Dees 10 June 2010, 06:58 #25

Love the site so far. The fact that it run in parallel with twitter says a lot about your openness. Great design, great people, and I hope some really great endorsements.

Best of luck to you.

Jono 10 June 2010, 07:30 #26

Funniest thing to me is that so many people just don’t get it… By logging in to, you are NOT joining a community but merely acknowledging your own for a purpose.

Scott 10 June 2010, 09:10 #27

Sometimes I understand the backlash against things that people see as elitist, even if I don’t agree. But in the case of Endorse, I just can’t grasp it. Once everything is scaled up, anyone will presumably be able to join it and build a small network of people that they actually know and trust. Not everyone will be connected with Colly and Jon Hicks (to grab examples from your post) but that’s not the point. As far as I can tell, this isn’t a social network for web workers; it’s a platform for building trusted mini-networks and for getting work done. How anyone could think that’s elitist is beyond me.

Additionally, I love the domain. It’s a clever use of a TLD, but when read literally it delights the Star Wars geek in me. :-)

James McDonald 10 June 2010, 12:53 #28

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s comment. Personally, I’ve been on and off since signing up, getting the gist of it. What I like about Endorse is that it adds that element of trust & connectivity, that to be fair, the interwebs doesn’t have much of.

Matt 10 June 2010, 13:46 #29

I hadn’t really thought about it in the ‘eloquent’ way Tim put it – but there is a truth the the idea that there will be a connections contest that goes on and dilutes the intention of Endorse. It’s essentially a habit of internet communities, and despite not truly being a community per se.. it’ll be utilized with the same established habits.

Perhaps a mechanism should be put in place to work against this concern. If I recommend someone, the recommended party must approve being recommended before being listed. This at least promotes a semblance of connection within the service.

Though I now see a truth in what Tim said that I hadn’t previously thought of, I wish the service well. Good luck.

Andy Croll 10 June 2010, 15:59 #30

Those aren’t rude comments… I was outed as an ‘Apple fag’ on reddit only yesterday.

I’m sure we all have our own squirreled away emails of colleagues we trust, can’t see why I wouldn’t use this. It can only lead to serendipitous discovery of talent in your secondary network right?

Commenting has closed for this article. Feel free to me.

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