Digital Pomegranate: Armenia’s New Freelancer Marketplace for Design Services

Given that the newly launched Gyumri based company Digital Pomegranate will change the economic landscape in the second largest city of Armenia, iTechnology.am wanted to hear from them first hand what they are doing. How do they plan on getting and keeping the much needed high paying jobs. We met Levon Arakelian, the company Creative director, who enlightened us on Armenia’s new digital marketplace and the importance of Freelance Entrepreneurs. Enjoy the conversation and let us know your opinion in the comments.

iTechnology.am: Levon, as we know you were the winner of DP logo competition. First congratulations, second how does it correspond to the vision of Digital Pomegranate?
Levon Arakelian: First thank you for the congratulations. I think what I designed as a logotype for Digital Pomegranate truly corresponds to the vision of our company. What I understood before deigning the prototype is that it was expected to design something which depicted the words “digital” and “pomegranate”. I did not intend to delve deep into the meanings of those words, because everything was clear: it was something about Armenia and about IT sphere. Pomegranate was telling everything about Armenia, so there was not too much to think about. As for representing IT sector I have chosen QR code as a unique and an interesting way. It made the logotype not only “digital” but also more functional: when you take a picture of it, the QR code leads you to www.digitalpomegranate.com website. Besides, many people found some carpet elements in my design, which made it even more Armenian. So I am happy to say it totally corresponds with the vision of Digital Pomegranate.

iTechnology.am: How did you join the team and what is your role in this newly launched company?
Levon Arakelian:
 In May, during Baramp Yerevan 2013, I got acquainted with Mr. Todd Fabacher, Digital Pomegranate LLC cofounder. He was a key speaker presenting “How to create a successful startup in Armenia” workshop. I was very interested in that topic, as I myself had a bunch of startup ideas, which I would like to implement. A bit later I learnt about Digital Pomegranate logotype contest, which I won witha public vote. Mr. Fabacher and his team really liked my solution and I was invited to join the team and lead the creative services of the company. I agreed with pleasure, because the vision of the company was really close to my thinking.

iTechnology.am: What is Digital Pomegranate marketplace and what are the opportunities are there for graphic designers and web specialists?

Levon Arakelian: The Digital Pomegranate marketplace is a unique network which connects Gyumri’s creative minds to world’s millions of small and medium businesses. We can explain our whole project into three phases:

First: to find and connect creative and smart people in Armenia, especially in Gyumri

Second: to provide 90 day free trainings to teach the needed skill to our members via LearnIT.am

Third: Prepare them to start providing web and graphics design services for the small businesses

iTechnology.am: What are the advantages of joining Digital Pomegranate marketplace and how it is different from other freelancing platforms?
Levon Arakelian:
In comparison with other freelancing networks, such as Odesk or Freelancer, Digital Pomegranate marketplace is similar, but also quite different. First, we teach our members how to the Design and Graphics tools needed for free. Then we only register people who can pass a skills test and then add your profile to the Digital Pomegranate marketplace. We wish to be clear, freelancers are added based on their knowledge and motivation. We intend to provide highly customer services, that is why we control everything by ourselves from the very start of the project till its final implementation.

In our testing phases, we found that sales, marketing, communications and project management skills were lacking in many Armenian freelancers. So Digital Pomegranate will have project managers who will coordinate the work flow and communicate with customers when needed. My responsibility as Creative Director is to assist and ensure everyone delivers the highest quality design and services. No freelancing networks has such features, this is what makes Digital Pomegranate unique in the world and special to Armenia.

iTechnology.am: You also mentioned Sales and Marketing as an issue, how are you planning on bringing the customers to your marketplace?
Good question. We do the sales and marketing to Russia and Europe from Armenia, plus we have offices in Brazil and the United States that promote us to the rest of the world. That is another important feature of Digital Pomegranate, we take on the responsibility of bringing in the customers.

iTechnology.am: What are your plans for getting people to work in the network?
Levon Arakelian:
We are going to get creative people from all over Armenia, but our main focus i on the Gyumri area. We will be doing presentations and announcements, our most effective way is vis social media and word of mouth. Then we will offer free trainings online and some in-person seminars to teach the needed skills. Then we will assist in the creating of an online portfolio to be added to our marketplace for customers to view. 

iTechnology.am: So I am not clear. Are members employees of Digital Pomegranate or freelancers? How much are they paid?
Levon Arakelian:
 No, members of the marketplace are freelancers and are NOT employees. All members that sell services in the marketplace must be registered as Private Entrepreneurs or companies in Armenia and sign a service contract with us. Digital Pomegranate has a fixed prices on all services offered and is paid on a per project basis. We have calculated that design members should make about US$8.00 per hour for their time, but they are paid on a per project basis.

iTechnology.am: As the creative director of Digital Pomegranate what is your opinion about the creativity of Armenian people? Do you think we have a potential?
Levon Arakelian: In my opinion, because our historic cultural heritage, creative skills are natural for Armenians - especially the Gyumri area. We are really happy and proud of the history of our nation. Besides the past, our present is also speaking for us: we have hundreds of outstanding people in many different fields, including painting, chess, music, medical, IT and other creative spheres. Though many people think we are in a deep crisis, I see the opposite. I see a new area focused less on manufacturing and more on creativity. Technology and design will lead the way. We should keep learning more and more, taking chances as challenges and implement the best we can. If we want to become better, today’s world gives us all opportunities to realize our dreams. And Digital Pomegranate is one great example of a chance to improve yourself, to join, to learn and to be successful.

iTechnology.am: Thanks Levon for the great talk. We are sure our readers can now move on choosing Digital Pomegranate as a great opportunity. 

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