What We’ve Learned & Why We’re Rebuilding Folio

First a note for any seller who still has funds deposited that were not withdrawn via PayPal, please contact us directly at hello@fol.io. Here we’ll confirm the account balance personally and ensure any and all payments are made to you immediately.

It’s almost a year since we conceived, built and launched the first iteration of Folio. In that time we’ve learned a lot and we’re taking your invaluable feedback away right now to create something even more valuable for you, our dear users.

But, before that I really wanted to share what we’ve learned and some of the anecdotes and pitfalls we’ve experienced in the hope it’ll help others. Sure, some of this you’ve heard before but I know I can stand behind this with data points that underpin these insights definitively. I hope you’ll find this of value too, whatever your business.

Two sided market places are a huge opportunity but they’re also notoriously difficult to get rolling and it’s an often cited challenge in current startups. The cause is the now infamous chicken-and-egg scenario. If you have buyers but no sellers, they leave as their need isn’t serviced, conversely if you have a glut of sellers with no buyers they seek more fertile grounds in which to trade their goods. 

More often than not, marketplaces start with the supply side by building an adequate inventory to make the marketplace an attractive ground for customers which in turn delivers more sellers as demand increases. It’s what AirBnB did, likewise Envato, Odesk and many other examples.

Now for some data on Folio. Our early figures were pretty solid:

  • - 5,000 registered users in the first 8 weeks, clearly demonstrating a demand.
  • - Immediate slowdown in user acquisition rates as soon as we lifted the pedal on community development.
  • - Over 6 months 7% of the community uploaded content but quality was a major issue.
  • - Steady growth from 100 daily unique visitors to 350 daily uniques.
  • - Conversion rate for download was at 12% for free and purchased content combined.
  • - This is misleading though as most content was free download.
  • - Content quality directly affected the percentage conversion for download on site.

Some learnings from just this overview of the data that I can share;

Community Outreach
We all talk about community management but it’s vital. Seriously. As a nascent business you rely entirely on positive human experiences and sharing. You need to be constantly active and vocal in the community. We noticed an almost instant downward effect on site traffic, registrations and downloads when we slowed down community outreach and development.

Content Quality
This may sound obvious but I believe it’s more pronounced than we all believe. When we as a team flooded the home page of the site with high quality graphic assets, download rates could go from 6 - 7% up to a spike of 18%. This is staggering and shows the direct affect of content quality on a home page or landing page. This for me reinforces the anecdote of the team at Airbnb going out themselves and taking better photos to improve the listing quality and increase trust amongst users. Don’t scrimp on quality. Have less content and be proud of it. Look to increase your conversion rate for that content, rather than flooding your marketplace with shitty content.

Selective User Acquisition
This may sound like a contradiction in terms but we’ve learned this the hard way. A huge lesson for me personally is in control over user acquisition. We rushed to acquire users and demonstrate to ourselves and investors alike that there was demand. What we in fact did was lower content quality across the board and scare off the very talent we sought to attract. This was a mistake and one we’re going to fix but definitely I need to accept responsibility - this was a mistake and I feel an easy on to make. Be patient, acquire the users you’d want to hang out with on a site first, they’re the founding members of your business and as such need to reflect the spirit of what you’re trying to achieve.

Keep it Simple
I want to open myself up to criticism here but we were overly ambitious and yes we have all talked about MVP and ‘lean’ as a concept but it is valid and not just hype. Our very talented team spent a lot of time (and money) in developing a quite complex first release and while there are huge components of this we will reuse in what we’re doing now, it simply wasn’t necessary to prove our hypothesis. We could have arrived at the conclusions we now have in probably 40 - 50% less time and I’m quite certain the same again in reduction of cost. I’m embarrassed to admit this as I consider myself very aware of the costs involved but I’d rather own up to this mistake, be cognizant of it and prevent it from happening again. We could have tested our entire business with a manually uploaded and statically managed product page. Sure it would have been ‘hokey’ but it would have served to test with. My mistake, I accept responsibility and it won’t happen again.

Value Great Feedback
Our community of early users and testers (yes, you) have been magnificent. I take huge encouragement from the feedback and knowledge we’ve gained and for this reason I would strongly urge founders to listen to their users. No matter how much it hurts. They’re the humans you’re asking to part with their time and money so they’re right. Not you and never forget it.

From here the future is really bright for Folio. Yes, we’ve overspent in understanding our market but the challenge isn’t unsurmountable. We also now really understand what you guys need and how we should be giving it to you. We’re working hard to get that ready and we’ll be back with something leaner, meaner, faster and easier for you to use really soon.

So for us it’s onwards and upwards. We’re so very excited for the future and working so much more with the wonderful world of the New York tech scene. Thank you all for your support!

In the meantime if you want to talk about our experiences to date or here a real dose of honesty, feel free to get in touch with me directly any time (@cilliankieran).

Thanks from team Folio and I.

Cillian Kieran

As a final point if I can recommend Shane Snow’s (@shanesnow) article on 7 tips for a two-sided marketplace is truly worth a read.


We’re Dropping Support For JPG & PNG Formats

Hey Folio peeps, 

After a lot of consideration we’ve opted to stop supporting JPG and PNG image formats and remove them from the Folio marketplace for now. Over the coming 48 hours you’ll see this change happening, meaning that images uploaded in these formats will disappear from the marketplace and jn future the marketplace will not accept uploads in these formats.

Read More


The Folio Guide To Curation

Folio exists to make finding quality digital assets easier.

With quality being key, your Folio team is dedicated to delivering only the best quality of assets. To help us achieve this, below are some guidelines to ensure your beautiful work gets the curators stamp of approval. 

What file types can I upload to Folio? 

Folio is currently accepting graphic file types i.e. PSD, EPS, AI, JPG, PNG, TIFF, PDF. We’re busy building and tweaking Folio so you can upload additional file types. Feel free to drop us a line to tell us what file types you want to upload.  

What categories does Folio feature? 

To make finding files easier, you can upload your file to one specific category. The categories are: 

App, Audio, Fonts, Graphic Design, Icons, Illustration, Interface, iPhone, Logo, Mobile, Photography, Texture, Typography, Vectors.

If there’s another category you can think of that’s relevant to you, again let us know so we can consider it for the next iteration.  

What does Folio look for in “a pixel perfect digital asset”?

Folio is committed to upholding a high standard of quality by curating all files submitted and running them through a fine-tooth comb checking layers, lines and pixels so they meet and/or exceed our users expectations. 

The curation team will work together with users to ensure their files are prepared in such a way that is optimal for purchase by other Folio users. If the files do not meet the curators quality criteria, they may be removed from the marketplace. Here are some general guidelines to follow…

Files should:

be editable

have an accurate name

have a set of clear and effective tags

have organized layers

be consistent

represent design elegance 

be non-offensive

be clear

be correctly aligned

be your own!


Sneak Peek of the Folio Webstore & Desktop Application

Last night we were honored to demo Folio on stage at The New York Tech Meetup. It was really exciting for us to have the opportunity to show the tech community the Folio webstore and desktop application.

In case you missed the livestream, we’d love to share a sneak peek of what Folio looks like. As always we’re eager to hear your thoughts and feedback on everything! We’re building Folio together with some of the worlds most skilled creative and technical minds and we absolutely want the users to be a part of the build process. Over the coming weeks, we’ll demo Folio at workshops, design events, co-working spaces, schools and conferences throughout the U.S. If you’re interested in setting a demo up with your creative peers feel free to email us on hello@fol.io

In the meantime, check out these snapshots and let us know what you think! 

Folio Webstore: 

Webstore Product Preview:

Folio Desktop Application - Search: 

Folio Desktop Application - Search Results: 

Folio Desktop Application - Uploading A Product: 


Folio Demo At NY Tech Meetup

Given that we’re avid attendees of New York Tech Meetup, we’re very excited to demo Folio to hundreds of people at the next NYTM on Wednesday, May 9th. 

If you’d like to attend - the final batch of tickets go on sale TODAY at 1pm sharp. Make sure you hang out on the meetup page, refreshing it continuously until the buy tickets button appears on the top right corner where it currently says “no spots left”. 

These tickets tend to sell out like hotcakes, so if that doesn’t work out for you, not to worry as the meetup will be livestreamed to our very own stomping ground at General Assembly and at New Work City

** If you are a web designer and want your work featured on Folio in front of hundreds of people at the demo, shoot an email to hello@fol.io for details. 


Folio hangs proud at General Assembly!

It’s a great feeling of elation to see your name in lights or in this case on a magnetic wall in New Yorks famed General Assembly!

Being in a beautiful co-working and learning environment like GA, surrounded by fellow tech entrepreneurs has been instrumental in breathing life into Folio’s daily operations. We’re a happy bunch here and look forward to growing the Folio team in this space. 


Hello Beta!

Yes it’s true, here at Folio HQ there’s alot of excitement surrounding our Beta release! We released the first batch on Friday and are giddy looking at all the products uploaded and selling on the marketplace already. If you registered your name and have not yet received your invite, worry not, we promise to give you yours very soon! 

In the meantime, click on the images below to purchase these cool buttons…

or this nice accordian menu…..


Now, start gathering your files for upload to Folio and we’ll be in touch shortly. 


Folio Registration Page Release

The last few weeks, we’ve been working quietly behind the scenes to bring Folio to you as soon as possible. This week marked a milestone, as we made our first public appearance releasing the Folio registration page and quirky #WTF* (What Type of File) personality quiz. The responses were hilarious, widespread and very positive! We’re delighted to have such a variety of “file types” from .PSD’s to .PDF’s to .HTML’s register with Folio and look forward to welcoming more! 

This week marked another milestone, as we were featured on Beaker Magazine, for having “Elements of a Well-Designed Launch Page”. We were honored to say the least to be among an incredible list of design focused websites including Fab.com and Wander.

Have you registered with Folio yet? Registering your name now will give you early access to our fast approaching Beta release and more… In the meantime, discover #WTF* (what type of file) you are after registration! 



Welcome to the Folio blog where Team Folio will be regularly posting on updates about the project, team, life at Folio and our exciting plans to change the face of digital content online.

Can’t wait to tell you all more… stay tuned.