Bezar founder talks about early struggles and ultimate success

bezar brad shellhammer

By Dennis Clemente

When you have everyone discussing their design process, it makes for an engaging presentation. Last June 24 was Design Driven’s best meetup so far the way each speaker presented a specific topic—and more importantly, because the presenters were generous with their thoughts and candid with their answers, especially Bradford Shellhammer, founder of and most recently, founder of Bezar.

Held at WeWork in Chelsea, the meetup featured Ben Hindman of Splash who tackled Scalable Design; Julie Logan of Giphy who explained to us why its “gifs not jifs;” Shellhammer of Bezar who talked about his experience as a design founder, and Cap Walkins, VP of Design at BuzzFeed, who spoke about running a design-driven organization.

The flamboyant Shellhammer had a lot to say about Bezar, his members-only curated design marketplace for design enthusiasts. He liked talking about his early struggles doing everything on his own. He said he studied the competition and every shopping and social experience of people in other websites. He also admitted to writing every piece of copy for his site, and how he used his gmail contacts for his email marketing efforts.

In building his site, he liked figuring out his MVP. “An MVP allows you to strip things down. I’m at heart and soul a minimalist,” he said.

When it comes to raising funds for his site, he was also candid about it. “My deepest insecurities come out no matter how experienced I am when I am raising funds. It’s an extremely hard to think over for an emotional person. It becomes easy when you have relationships with them,” he said.

He noticed most investors often ask if you have built anything. “You have to have built something. You need to have convinced someone to develop something for you,” he said.

The startup world had been a positive experience for him, but if there’s anything he despises, it’s the practice “of hiring and firing people quickly” that permeates most of startup culture. “Don’t follow that advice,” he stressed.

Offering experiential marketing with Splash, Hindman talked about how it has scaled its business for users with well-designed themes, familiar layouts and reusable blocks — and how he makes things work in one click. The designs, especially the color overlays, are certainly much better than the ones we see from other event-marketing sites. It reportedly has 300,000 freemium users.

Logan of Giphy presented next, stressing how gifs are “not jifs,” what she calls “an art form.”

From text messaging, a new form of self-expression has emerged. With gifs, Logan said, “Nobody has to explain your tone, text or your voice” because you can express your thoughts with a gif.

Last speaker of the night was Cap Wilkins, VP of Design at BuzzFeed, who showed a photo of his product design team, evidently proud of his team of 18 designers, telling us how important it is to work as a team “to make your company design-driven.”

“You have to define an ideal state of the world,” he said. He would not stop there, as he emphasized how important it is to “sacrifice for the short term for the long term (gains).”

“Design everything,” he said, adding how “designers should know how to code.”

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Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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