Francis Lee, Founder of UnicornGO
Who are you?
My name is Francis and I am the Founder of UnicornGO. I’m an Aussie living in Sydney and am a massive marketing and tech geek. I’ve been building small businesses for the past 10 years with multiple failures as well as successes. I love the start up community and I have been striving to build something worth sharing that would make a positive impact to the community. This is where UnicornGO comes in, an unlimited graphic design agency with a flat monthly fee for pricing. There are no contracts, all work comes with unlimited revision and for new clients, we even offer a 14 day money back guarantee.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
As a marketer and a business owner, I have struggled with getting good quality graphic design for a reasonable price. Designers that were cheap generally delivered low quality work, and the good ones smash you with a crazy price tag that most small businesses can’t afford. All in all, in the graphic design industry, nothing existed that would meet my needs.
Traditionally, graphic design is charged at an hourly rate which means incremental expenses for businesses. Worse is that if you don’t like the final design output, you will be charged even more for each revision. Of course, hiring an in house designer will allow you to cap your monthly spend to the designer’s salary, but that is generally limited to much larger companies with better cash flow.
For small to medium sized businesses and especially startups, this means a large bill at the end of each month just to maintain design relevance.
Frustrated by the process of hiring a new freelance designer and terrified by the idea of getting a shock bill at the end of the month again, I created UnicornGo, an design agency that offers unlimited graphic design for a flat monthly fee. To sweeten the deal, there are no contracts, all work comes with unlimited revisions and for new clients, you get a 14 day money back guarantee, just to prove that we put money where our mouth is.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
The biggest struggle is sales, or business development and is largely due to the fact that I am currently running both the account management and the sales side of things. UnicornGo also lacks the marketing budget of larger design agencies and as such, I rely heavily on word of mouth. This coupled with the fact that the business model is so new in the industry, it becomes much harder to market. Another pain point is account management, to keep cost low, I am currently doing all the management myself, which means I work from 7am to 11-12pm almost every day.
My biggest failure, would be working on too many things at one time, during the past year, I had to sell 2 of my ecommerce businesses, and multiple websites and apps just so I can concentrate as all the smaller businesses were taking too much mind share. This just adds to overall fatique meaning less time for the important things in life, i.e family and friends.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Probably unrelated to business, my biggest achievement is learning how to skateboard recently. I tried to do it when I was a young boy, but stupid young me tried to go down a hill on my first try. You can probably figure out what happened this. Hurt myself enough to not try again until recently. Being in my 30s, my body just doesn’t work or heal as fast anymore, but I finally overcame my fear of falling and decided to jump on the board and boy is it fun!
This really mirrors my startup journey, where I have recently taken the plunge to go full time on UnicornGO as its starting to take off. Overcame the fear and now its really giving me the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.
What’s your must read business book?
Beyond the obvious books that every one has read, I feel “The $100 Startup” was an interesting read and got me into building “smaller cash flow positive” businesses. It changed my mentality of going for the next Facebook or Snapchat, and went back to basic of building a business that solves a problem, is profitable and can be started quickly.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs are stuck at trying to change the world the same way Facebook did, instead of actually thinking inwards of what they really want to achieve, what lifestyle they would aspire to have and what real impact they can make by concentrating on that instead. Or maybe I’m just thinking too smaller, I don’t know.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh. There is something about these self made guys that clicks with me. Likely their view on customer happiness as well as treating their staff well, which ultimately contributes to the bottom line. Having worked in corporate for such a long time, I know how it feels to be in an environment where the staff or the customer is not treated well. It just sucks to be in that situation.
Also, after the hardship, both Richard and Tony definitely know how to enjoy themselves by surrounding themselves with people and friends they love, this gives them a much more fulfilling life and its something I can aspire towards.
And can you tell us something weird or interesting about yourself?
One of my arms is longer than the other, this is thanks to my brother chucking me off the table in a game of “planes”. The game is that you throw each other (me being thrown) from a high-ish location to a soft landing. Issue is my brother went too high (on top of a table) and threw me on the floor (pretty much concrete) and broke my arm which I think is now the shorter arm.