Design Hope for Startups 2009

by Jonathan Longnecker

Design Hope for Startups

So we’ve been thinking a lot about how the economy is affecting businesses and individuals. What I find truly inspiring is hearing stories of really brave people giving up all that is safe, embracing the unknown and starting a new business in the face of an economic downturn. We know what it’s like to start a business from scratch, but I wonder if we would have the balls to do it in these uncertain times. The more I think about these people who are risking all they have in search of creating something revolutionary and forging a better life for themselves and their families, the more I want to help them out.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to design and build one lucky new business’ website for FREE. Yep, for free. Not only that, but we’re going to put the whole design process up on this blog as we go and get feedback from the community.

We’re going to design and build one lucky new business’ website for FREE.

Are we crazy? Probably. We’re insanely busy right now and fitting it in will be interesting. But I can’t get this out of my head. We want to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive even in these tough times. Read on for more details.

What You Get

Kick Awesome Design from FortySeven Media.

FortySeven Media

We’ll make it look good and work even better. Then we’ll put it in ExpressionEngine so you can update it yourself. Keep in mind we’re looking at a medium-sized, simple site with great content that’s published on a regular basis. Huge custom apps and social networking sites probably wouldn’t be a good fit for this promotion. We’ll be glad to throw in a logo design or re-design as well.

ExpressionEngine license from EllisLab


In addition to the license of ExpressionEngine, EllisLab has also offered a Forum Module and Multiple Site Manager Expansion if you need it. That’s potentially $500 worth of software for free!

1 Year of Hosting from EngineHosting


EngineHosting is generously dontating a year of their Shared Hosting S-2 Account. We hear their servers are rock solid and the support is top notch, friendly and personal. Worth around $240.

Email Design and Integration by Newism


Newism wanted to add another dimension to the promotion and has offered to design a email newsletter campaign and integrate it with Campaign Monitor. Now you’ll be able to update your clients in style!

20,000 Email Credits from Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor

The wonderful people over at Campaign Monitor are huge supporters of the design community and are donating almost $200 worth of email credits so you can send great looking emails, have access to amazing reports, track your progress, and not have to pay for it for a long time.

Free Set of Icons from StockIcons


As if all this weren’t enough, the generous folks at the IconFactory are donating a set of icons from StockIcons! Very awesome indeed.


So you think you deserve a free website? Read through the details below to see if this project is the best fit for you.

1. How we work

For this project we’ll work on a 3 comp basis. So if we’re doing the logo we’ll start with 3 variations, pick one or two and refine up to 3 times from there. Same with the site except we’ll start with wireframes and then move to design.

2. Be open to the process

We will be publishing each part of the design process on the blog, so you have to be ok with that kind of openness and transparency. Of course, the final decisions are up to you, but having an army of creatives giving input will make it interesting!

3. Convince us

So usually when you mention the word free, you get a lot of response. We’re only picking one start-up business so you’re going to have to convince us why it should be you. A couple of pre-requisites:

  • Your business was started no earlier than 2009
  • You’re based in the United States
  • Your product has to be outstanding
  • You deeply believe in what you’re doing
  • You’re personally invested (i.e. no entrepreneurs who have 5 other projects going on)
  • You really need an awesome website to make it work
  • You can be flexible on the timeline


Request Deadline: May 22, 2009 Project Start: TBD Project End: Will depend on the project

Spread the Word

In order for everyone that needs this to hear about it, we’ve got to get the word out and we need your help. Tweet it, Bookmark it, Digg it, Blog about it, and by all means, participate in the design process when it gets up and running. And don’t forget to follow it through our RSS feed or Twitter.

Contact Us

If you have read the above and think you’re the best fit, fill out this form and make us believe.

If you’re a stock photography company and want to partner with us, contact us here.

March 15, 2009

Design, Business, Design Hope


  1. You guys are awesome!!  This is such a cool idea.  I’ll be praying for you guys in this endeavor!

  2. Whoa - you guys rock. You’ve inspired me and I’ve gotten in touch with you about helping out. smile

  3. Thanks guys! Lots of exciting things happening behind the scenes. We’ll be announcing some big partnerships very soon.

  4. Great article and excellent idea!  My design firm just finished a project like this for three guys who were laid off and chose put their savings and severance pay into a new business rather than rely on getting back into the job market.

    Good for you two!  Keep up the great work and many positive years of success to you both!

  5. This is supremely cool!
    n0t only do I get my inspiration for web design from you guys, but now I see you doing nice things for people by giving away alot of your man hours in terms of design time.

  6. Awesome idea! The work you guys churn out here is always outstanding, so I’ll be following this one closely!

  7. Shame you guys have limited it to US based participants only - we’d have been really interested in that (especially as our product applies to most of the partners involved), but - we’re based in good ole UK.

    Anyway, best of luck chaps smile

  8. great idea guys! let me know how I can help

  9. Is Canada part of the US… Shame on you, you guys make the best looking websites I have ever seen!!! Keep up your amazing work and I am going to wait for the Canadian version. We always end up having Canadian version anyways! American Idol - Canadian Idol, So you think you can dance - So you think you can dance Canada LOL

    Good luck!

  10. Many apologies, my Canadian friends! From all the response we’ve had in such a short time I think it’s safe to say this won’t be the only Design Hope we do. We’re just trying to keep it simple for this one before going international in the future. That’s right no secrets here!

    Oh, and @eecommerce if you’re really going to get Magento and EE to work together many many blessings upon you!

  11. This is why you guys are my heroes…..and ghosts…...mostly heroes though.

  12. Great idea! Really glad to see a local, innovative “giving back” initiative.

  13. Thanks, CP! We’re doing our best.

  14. Good idea indeed. It’s nice to see design houses showing some initiative in helping out start up businesses.

  15. Great idea grin

    I was going to apply until I read it was USA based only.

  16. Thanks for taking the initiative and starting this. More companies should be following the example of 47m and looking for new ways to help others while gaining support for their efforts and products as well.

    If it wasn’t for this idea - it might have been another 4 years before I learned about this site.

  17. Great initiative from all of you. Wishing you all the best!

  18. Why based in the US? I’ve got a fantastic business idea that needs an awesome website, but I’m based in the UK. :(

  19. Sorry Kevin; I see we were a bit short sighted. This has blown up quite larger than we imagined it would. We’re going to open it up next time around for sure smile.

  20. I’m glad to hear that, although I hope that by next year we’ll have a website already.

    Looking forward to seeing the proyect of the winner!

  21. Just amazing idea - if you need any behind-the-scenes help at all, just let us know.

  22. This is a great offering.  Its nice to see that people still care about eachother.  I wish 47 and the start-up much luck.

  23. I think a behind the scenes would be great! Maybe Jae could really help you do this. But like you said, the economy has been bad lately.

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