Online design tool Desygner launches open beta after building a $20 million dollar product on a $20 thousand budget

By Editor February 1, 2016

Desygner announced the launch of their online design solution, which offers a simpler alternative to using Illustrator and Photoshop on a freemium model. The collaborative design tool offers 100’s of ready-made templates that can easily be tweaked, published and printed in minutes from any device.

From personal projects such as event invitations and Facebook headers, to business projects such as email campaigns, social media posts, presentations and business cards, Desygner aims to help anyone to create beautiful designs. “Small business owners, bloggers, marketers and even personal users will be able to benefit from the simplicity of the platform”, says founder Mariana Aguiar.

Because of its technology and promising market space, Desygner has been evaluated by Pitch Partners at $20M before launch. The story of how the company built a twenty million dollar product on a “peanuts” budget includes being turned-down by investors, working from a rented apartment and hiring backpackers.

“When we started to develop the technology 2 years ago I went to San Francisco and although the investors were very welcoming, we were in a tough situation: the company needed an MVP to get users, but we needed users to get funding, and needed funding to build an MVP. We decided to go ahead even when other companies were spending millions of dollars developing similar technology and we had nothing to spend”, says founder Mariana Aguiar.

Instead of doing what others would see as the proper next step, a move to a technology hub city such as Silicon Valley, founders Alex and Mariana decided to set up the company on the Gold Coast in Australia. They knew rent would be cheaper and that the area attracted a lot of travellers and students, which made it easier to find help. They would use these travellers and students as junior professionals and interns, which fitted their shoestring budgets. Through creativity and passion, they were able to build a diverse team, including developers and designers from Germany, Nigeria, United States, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, France, Russia and Australia. This allowed for Desygner to be built with an international user base in mind. The entire site and editor product has translated into 6 different languages at the time of this writing (English UK/US, Chinese, Spanish, German, Portuguese and French), with more languages coming in the near future.

Working out of a rented apartment that doubled as living quarters, the founders used to hide everyone’s desks every time the real-estate agent decided it was time for an inspection. Even though they set up to be an Internet company, they started with no Internet. After dramas with two different Internet providers, part of the product had to be developed without a broadband connection. “The Internet issue was not going to stop us. Let’s just say that we went to Starbucks a lot!”, says founder Mariana Aguiar. Using coffee houses and other venues with accessible Wi-Fi, the company pushed forward to create their service and applications despite the financial and logistical obstacles. The build of the service already includes over 400,000 lines of code, which means the company worked around the clock. This included all the founders not taking salaries, and staff working towards the belief of the solution.

After initially using the core technology to launch a successful photo book product to market to bootstrap the company, which quickly resulted in thousands of books being made each month, the company decided to use its technology to launch Desygner aiming to disrupt the online design market with a mobile-friendly solution focused on collaboration and simplicity.

“When we started to develop the product a lot of people said we wouldn’t be able to do it. So today we are here to prove them wrong and also to allow them to create beautiful designs from any device”, says founder Mariana.

According to Founder Alex Rich, what makes Desygner different from other online design tools is that users can create graphics from their mobile phones and use photos there and then that they are taking. “We also focused on developing a stable and open platform. You can expect to render print files with precision down to the pixel, and are able to search for millions of royalty-free images, and even import images and text from existing PSD and PDF files”, says the founder.

The Desygner Mission

Although Desygner is going to allow for anyone to design, the goal is not to replace professional designers, but to allow them to focus in creativity and innovation, as opposed to wasting time with minor adjustments and text changes. Ultimately, the goal is to allow creative and marketing professionals to collaborate, and members of any organization, regardless of size, to make their own versions of marketing materials without compromising the brand’s visual identity.

To learn more about Desygner and participate in the open beta program, visit