Credit: Danielle Thompson /
Credit: Danielle Thompson /

Danielle Thompson, from nomad to success with Design Match

The interview of how Danielle Thompson founded her design startup and travels the world while running her business.
23 June, 2024
2 mins read

Danielle, a digital nomad originally from Canada, saw this gap and turned it into an opportunity. She founded Design Match , a company that matches startups with the perfect designer, and in less than eight months, generated over $350,000 in revenue without spending a dime on marketing.

Here’s the fascinating story of how she did it.

The journey begins

“I’m Danielle, the founder of Design Match. We help match startups with the perfect designer for their business. Although our clients range from first-time founders to large enterprises, our focus has always been on startups,” Danielle shared. Her journey began as a product designer for startups around the globe, with her work reaching over 300 million users.

About eight years ago, feeling the monotony of life in Montreal, Danielle embarked on a journey to challenge herself and explore the world. This journey not only enriched her personally but also led to the creation of Design Match. As she traveled, her income rose, and she started an online school called Design Club to help other designers succeed. Eventually, she realized the potential in connecting designers with startups, leading to the birth of Design Match.

Building the foundation

Danielle’s experience as a designer made the initial product design phase exciting. However, she was shocked by the high costs of development, with quotes reaching $400,000. Instead of giving up, she turned to no-code solutions and built the platform on Bubble, drastically reducing costs.

The client side of the experience was crafted to be a fully asynchronous sales cycle, which was initially met with skepticism due to high contract values. However, clients loved the no-pressure approach. The first client experience was built using WordPress and Loom for sales, creating a minimal viable product (MVP) that quickly evolved based on client feedback.

Launching and growing organically

“We never really launched,” Danielle explained. Design Match was incorporated in December 2021, and by early 2022, they had their first customers. With low startup costs and $40,000 of Danielle’s own money invested, the company quickly saw results.

Focusing on SEO from day one, Design Match attracted high-quality traffic to their site. AI writing tools helped generate initial content, and LinkedIn automations connected them with their target market. Surprisingly, email marketing failed to convert, leading Danielle to focus on being present where founders are most active.

Success and sustainability

Today, Design Match is profitable with an 89% match success rate. “Our last experiment with ads left us with more demand than we could process,” Danielle noted. The focus now is on sustainable scaling and maintaining high customer service levels. Plans for the future include launching a podcast and developing customer and founder communities further.

Lessons learned

Running Design Match has taught Danielle valuable lessons about emotional control, sustainable growth, and the importance of solving existing problems. Her advice to other entrepreneurs? “Solve a problem that already exists. When I found a need and just solved it better, things got much easier.”

Danielle recommends these tools and resources

Design Match relies on several tools for success:

  • Sunsama for daily planning
  • Monday for team management
  • Poda for development planning
  • Bubble for building the platform
  • Stripe and PandaDoc for transactions

Danielle’s favorite podcasts and books include “My First Million,” “100M Dollar Offers,” and “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Apps.”

To sum it up

Danielle’s journey from a digital nomad to the founder of a successful startup highlights the power of identifying and solving a real problem. With a focus on design, a crucial yet often overlooked element, she has created a thriving business that continues to grow sustainably. For aspiring entrepreneurs, her story is a testament to the importance of perseverance, innovation, and the willingness to take risks.

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Adedoyin Ogunmola

Adedoyin Ogunmola is a regular writer for Who Design Today with 2+ years of experience, working with B2B SaaS and Ed-tech brands. His ability to write authentic and high-quality content is reinforced by his unique writing philosophy: “Show, don’t just tell”.

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