By Kanwal Rafiq
Jad Joulji and Justin Picone were frustrated with the employment process — so they hired themselves.
Two months ago, the Ryerson architectural science graduates launched Houseit.com, a website that gives young designers a chance to showcase their work and connect with clients.
Users log onto the website and select the type of project they need designed, describe their design criteria, their budget, the deadline, the award to the winning designer and then launch the competition.
Designers then propose a variety of options for the client to choose. Once the client chooses which design they like, they award the designer with a cash prize.
“We try to target young designers because we want to give them the opportunity and experience they don’t have and give them a risk-free environment where they can try out their design ideas, to mould themselves into the designer they want to be and develop their own style and way of doing things,” Joulji said.
Joulji and his partner also found that clients struggle to find designers and often don’t know how to begin the process.
“Traditionally a client has one designer and that one designer will give them one design,” Joulji said. “But in our model, the client can target several designers to get several designs at the same time versus the one.”
The entrepreneurs’ inspiration came from the website 99designs.ca, a crowdsourcing model for logos and graphic design. Joulji and Picone said they thought the same idea could potentially be applied to architecture and home design.
Joulji and Picone turned to the DMZ to put their idea into action.
Now in their fourth week at the DMZ, the two entrepreneurs have worked to further develop the site and gain mentorship.
“Right now, the website is functional and everything is working, but we’re in our phase where we read out the bugs and figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Joulji said.