Global Innovation Spotlight

Four Art & Design Startups
(on Three Continents)
for Art-Lovers & Creatives

One of our core beliefs at Jobbatical is that innovation is not confined to Silicon Valley. So in this series we’re highlighting innovative teams around the world. Read on to see what they’re creating and what they love about their cities.

Pinkoi founders Mike Lee, Maibell Lin, and Peter Yen.

1. Taipei, Taiwan: Pinkoi

Often called the Etsy of Asia, Pinkoi is a hugely popular marketplace for independent Asian designers and craftsters. It launched in 2011, and is now expanding beyond Asia, having launched the English version of the site just last month. Pinkoi’s team of 50 people works from offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and San Francisco, but its headquarters have always been in beautiful Taipei.

A few of the goods sold by creators on Pinkoi. Need a new screwdriver set?

Why Taipei?

CEO Peter Yen tells us,

“People are friendly, living cost is affordable​, the only drawback is traffic jams.”

Luckily Taipei has an impeccably clean and efficient public transit system that extends to every corner of this city — so there’s often no need to drive. Peter also cites Taipei as an interesting market for entrepreneurs because,

Taiwan is among the top 5 countries with the most active users on mobile”

Peter also reports that Taipei is full of open-minded people of all cultures who can settle in easily due to the high levels of English proficiency in the city.

Fruit stand at a Taipei night market. [Jorge Gonzales via Flickr]

We’d also like to add that Taipei is the rare city that manages to be wildly vibrant and suprising while also being incredibly safe and liveable — a perfect combo. Exploring Taiwan’s mouthwatering night markets, stumbling upon hidden flower markets, and tracing its lush coastline are experiences not to be missed.

Are they hiring?

If your wanderlust is kicking in right about now, you’re in luck, because Pinkoi is looking for a Marketing Specialist. Take a jobbatical with them, and spend a year (or maybe forever) falling in love with Taipei.

Pinkoi’s Taipei jobbatical.

Canva Founders Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins, and Cameron Adams.

2. Sydney, Australia: Canva

Canva was created to provide a simple, intuitive, and low-cost (mostly free) way for anyone to create beautiful designs — whether or not they have a design background or know how to use fancy tools. It’s really a pleasure to use. Launched in 2013, Canva is now used in 179 countries around the world, and over 13 million designs have been created using their platform. The rapidly growing startup has a team of 80 people between their HQ in Sydney and new office in Manila.

Creating a design with Canva.

Why Sydney?

Canva’s People Operations Lead, Mahesh Muralidhar, gave us plenty of reasons to want to move to Sydney.

“Sydney is one of the most livable cities in the world. The weather is amazing.”

Mahesh tell us,

“Australians have a very balanced perspective on work/life balance — Sydney has a strong health and wellness environment.”

He adds that there’s great food and easy access to New Zealand. Score.

Iconic Sydney at dusk [Jason James via Flickr]

More praise for Sydney comes from Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann, who is quoted as saying,

“If Paris is a city of lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks.”

That sounds pretty good to us.

Are they hiring?

Yes! At both their Sydney and Manila offices. Canva is gaining attention, users, and funding like crazy, and Mahesh says their software engineering team is arguably the best in Australia —led by a high-level former Googler. Definitely a good time to jump on board!

Join Canva’s stellar team in Sydney or in Manila:

Canva is also looking for a UI/UX Designer.


Featured contemporary art on Works.io

3. Budapest, Hungary: Works.io

From the same city as Prezi, Works.io is a platform that empowers artists in their careers.n An elegant way to display a portfolio, and a growing community for making connections, the startup aims to become the “LinkedIn + IMDB for the art world.” Art-lovers can find pieces they love, artists can connect with galleries, and curators can create and share collections.

A few of Works.io’s offerings.

The Works.io founding team is an eclectic group of three co-founders: Abe Han is from Canada, Patrick Urwyler is from Switzerland, and Eyal Zucker from Israel. Their artists and customers come from more than 100 countries, proving them a global venture from the start.

Why Budapest?

Budapest’s cobblestone streets may look like the setting of an ancient fairytale, but the city is also a hotbed of tech talent, with a nicely simmering entrepreneurial community. Here’s co-founder Eyal Zucker’s take:

“Budapest is a very beautiful vibrant city. There are people here from all over the world and in the past 5 years the night life and opportunities to socialize have increased substantially. Many coworking spaces have emerged along a fairly energetic start up scene that is driving many locals to take on entrepreneurship over traditional jobs.”
Budapest Parliament [Photo Fabs via Flickr]
“Budapest’s geographical position in central Europe also makes it easy to travel to other cities on the continent, which is an advantage when working with international customers and business partners.”

Another advantage that Budapest shares with Taipei and Amsterdam is affordability. For comparison, according to Expatistan.com, cost of living in New York City is 179% higher than in Budapest, and London’s is 204% higher. Budapest may feel less shiny and cosmopolitan than say, Vienna, but it is brimming with refreshingly unpretentious culture and character.

Are they hiring?

Works.io is very early stage right now — but full of promise. Keep an eye on them and you may see positions open up with them as they grow. For now, forward their site to your artist friends and ask them why their portfolio isn’t on there yet.


Fraemd’s homepage.

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: FRAEMd

You could describe FRAEMd as a mashup of Pandora and Tinder, but for art rather than for music or “connections”. Much simpler and more satisfying than scrolling through lists of pictures, you are shown various art pieces, and swipe left or right. You can also change the background to an uploaded picture of your own home, to help find a good match. The team has already accomplished much since their launch in August with just two founders and some freelance web developers — within their first month they won a startup award from Marie Claire. Could it be that Tinder has inspired something this classy?

Why Amsterdam?

Floor Serto, one of FRAEMd’s founders, has worked as an art director in both Sydney and Amsterdam, and has this to say about Amsterdam’s uniquely creative spirit:

“Amsterdam is amazing because of its diverse people, international approach and spontaneous surprises behind every corner. There are signs of creativity everywhere you look. People in Amsterdam dare to break the rules, which makes it a hub for creativity, innovation and open minded people.”
“Cyclist over Railway” [ José Valiente via Flickr]

Amsterdam is also famous as the bike capital of the world, and was named Europes first “Sharing City” last year — both citizens and government are eager to embrace sharing economy innovations. Goverment and startup representatives have also come together to form Startup Amsterdam, an initiative to attract even more innovation to the city.

Are they hiring?

The FRAEMd founders are looking for a skilled web developer who could potentially become their CTO. If you love art as much as code (or perhaps coding is your artform), why not join them?

An Amsterdam Jobbatical.

Three continents. Four creative startups.

The physical distances between the Pinkoi, Canva, Works.io, and FRAEMd teams are quite immense, but their visions for empowering creatives around the world reveal their kindred spirits. We’ll be back soon with our next Global Innovation Spotlight — let us know in the comments if you have suggestions for future themes. In the mean time, keep exploring the world, and look for innovation everywhere!