What prompted you to start Sketch, and what opportunity did you see?
We founded Sketch in 2011 with a really simple goal — to help people design better products. I (Pieter) had been working on a few different apps with Emanuel (CDO and co-founder). We knew both designers and developers were not satisfied with the tools available to them, and the design industry was kind of an underserved market in those days.
We were frustrated that there was no product made specifically for interface design and we wanted to change that. We wanted to build something that met our needs and was simple enough for anyone to use. Other software on the market was unintuitive and bloated — you had to know which obscure tools to use, and the other 90% you could just ignore.
And so the idea was born of making a simple app with just the features a typical UI designer would need. We started this in 2011 and went onto to release the first version in 2012.
We saw instant traction with Sketch at launch, shipping the app ourselves, funded by just our savings and other income. It was clear, the industry was crying out for a specialist tool and it turned out designers were glad to find a viable alternative for UI design.
We're now eight years in and have over one million global Sketch users. We're proud of what we've achieved and our place as industry leader.
We understand why design is important for consumer companies, but why is design becoming increasingly important for enterprise companies?
We think this comes down to three factors; choice, availability and empowerment. Consumers do not have to accept mediocre software or just settle for second best anymore — they have a choice of tools readily available at their fingertips. This means they are in the driving seat when it comes to choosing the best tool, that best suits their needs. And for enterprise companies, that means creating products that are well designed, powerful and easy to use. In today’s climate it's all about gaining competitive advantage.
On top of this, as design becomes the foundation of almost every business, there's a need to include developers, content producers, product managers and other stakeholders in the design process. That's why we’re continuing to innovate and invest in our platform to make sure Sketch meets that need. We’ve been working hard to bring more collaboration tools to Cloud and introduced Teams subscriptions that allow designers to work with their whole organization with as little friction as possible.
We also strongly believe that good software design is not just about making things look good — it comes down to creating an environment that is user friendly and intuitive for designers. That way they can focus on problem they need to solve — rather than how to use the application. And with that comes a direct benefit of increased productivity and output. At Sketch we follow these principals — to make designers' needs our top priority, which is the mantra we started with and still live by today.
What does it mean to your company to be listed on the Enterprise Tech 30?
It's great to be recognized by the Enterprise Tech 30 for our journey from a two-person team creating a tool for individual designers, to almost 100 people helping over one million customers design better products.
We’ve grown fast, and organically, by staying true to our values, and adapting our platform to make it suitable for everyone from solo freelance designers to some of the world’s largest design teams. We've built unique features around Design Systems and Libraries that kickstarted our ability to scale our offering from a direct-to-consumer app to one that is highly regarded in Enterprise.
Having our efforts recognized by the Enterprise Tech 30 for two years in a row means a great deal to us — and we hope this continues for the years ahead!