Building an on-demand graphic design service to a team of 150
Johnathan Grzybowski is the co-founder of Penji. A service that can accelerate your growth with a fully remote team of vetted designers. Unlimited design projects. Fast turnaround. All at a fixed monthly rate. You can submit as many projects as you want, get your completed designs back in under 48 hours.
After experiencing firsthand how difficult it was to find talented graphic designers for his business, Johnathan and his co-founders launched Penji in 2017. Their goal was to provide an innovative solution by making essential tools and resources more accessible and affordable for entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketing teams.
Penji has been named acknowledged as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America according to Inc. for 3 consecutive years.
His personal mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to challenge simple-minded patterns. The goal is to then help those willing to elevate, execute, and produce more revenue for their business.
Penji is an on-demand graphic design service that helps thousands of marketers and agencies achieve better results. Create unlimited print, digital, or UX/UI design requests and let our fully managed team of vetted talent work their magic. No hiring. No HR. No hourly billing. One flat monthly rate to cover all your design needs. Too good to be true? Try us 15-days risk-free and see for yourself.
We used to be a digital marketing agency. We worked with a lot of different customers, most of which were larger organizations. We received multiple compliments towards our design work, looked at the agency business model as a whole, and knew we needed to change/adapt.
We launched Penji initially to help our local community and also in the meantime interviewed hundreds of our closest friends and business partners.
The overwhelming majority told us that if we were to build what Penji would inevitably be, they’d buy it. So we did just that.
Our first 100 customers were added into a really bad Trello board that we used for organization. In the background, we were slowly developing our own technology that would allow us to scale.
It took close to an entire year in order for us to build what Penji is today. A lot of research, a lot of data, and most importantly, a lot of speaking with our customers for feedback.
Most of our initial customer base came from our local community. Then shortly after that when we were generating revenue, we then took a certain amount of the capital to advertise on both Facebook and Google Ads. To this day it’s a strong asset in our company tool kit.
We are profitable and have never received an ounce of funding. We are full cash flow positive. We have thousands of on-going customers from all different walks of life. We have over to 45 countries represented as customers. We also have over 150 team members that are also scattered throughout the world.
It’s something that we are all incredibly proud of because we created a service that people want and need. It’s good to know that you’re helping people and solving a problem that another person is having.
The most success that we’ve had has been providing a human approach to customer service. We always tell our support team members to do whatever you can to help the customer, but that’s just about 10% of it.
The remaining percentage goes towards being a better team player. We have made it clear to our team that our designers and team members are the most important.
We value their hard work and do whatever we can to ensure that the are not only fairly compensated, but not over worked. We believe at Penji that if you are to have happy and healthy team members, it yields an overall better experience for the customer.
Each team member of the process speaks to one another to make sure each other are ok and have the necessary information in order for them to make a sound decision that’s beneficial for the customer.
This is one of those things in business that you can’t fake. It’s built into our DNA and has been since day one.
I’d put more of an emphasis on data and finding the best possible way to obtain the customers that stay with us the longest.
We would do that by primarily talking to our customers and asking them what they want and need. We want to work with the best customers that bring us the best revenue.
So if we are able to understand our best customers we will be able to speak to that type better via our marketing channels.
We have that data now, it took a crap ton of time to make this possible, however, I wish we had it sooner.
Referrals are another huge part of our business. So having the ability to ask for a referral and provide the right compensation to the customer for that referral is equally as important.
We don’t use that many tools, to be honest. We are VERY primitive in this department. In fact, I am confident that there are better ways to do a lot of things in our company, but we use what works for us. Google Drive is essential. Slack as well. Outside of that, we only use maybe 1-2 more services.
From the beginning of Penji, we were not only protective of the money we spent, but also protective of the processes. The more tools you use, the more confused your team may get.
I’m not the type to get inspired by an influencer. Yeah, there are some good ones, but I don’t follow anyone that I don’t need to. It clouds my judgment or may inspire me to make a bad decision.
The best book I’ve read comes from a good friend named Scott Gerber. “Never get a real job.”
I emailed him how amazing his book was, he never got back to me. I eventually got him to be a guest on my podcast and I shared my experience with him and how important his book was to me. We became friends and he’s not an incredible mentor to me and friend.
With that said and the reason I share this story is that if you like a book or a song or a movie or whatever, write to the person who created it and thank them. That level of thanks goes a long way and they will most likely appreciate the love and support.