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Why I’ve started a product design studio

Jeremy Blaze
Mar 3, 2019 · 4 min read

For the last five or so years I’ve worked almost exclusively with tech startups, the last year of which I’ve been freelancing full-time… and I love it. Work these past twelve months has been engaging, fulfilling and diverse. I’ve worked with SAAS companies large and small, helped with the launch of a blockchain startup, interviewed users from all around the world and even launched and exited a startup of my own. If you can’t tell, I have little desire to shift away from the diversity of experience that self-employment offers but as I think most freelancers find at some point, I’m starting to feel there are some things missing.

Before I get into a deep and philosophical deconstruction of why self-employment goes against many of the things humans most desire, I’ll quickly explain where I was before I began my freelance journey.

Prior to freelancing I was working at a six-person startup with a distributed workforce spread along Australia’s east coast. My nearly 2 years there was a time of huge growth for me both personally and professionally. As well as the obvious perks of a remote job, the work we did was (in my slightly biased view) innovative, well thought through and new. Everyone in the team was highly skilled as well — something I’ve come to associate closely with remote companies in general. The fact a remote employer can pull together the best people from anywhere rather than just the best people nearby is huge, and despite our geographical distance we were close-knit and all worked flawlessly together to push out some really great products.

Now that I’m flying solo I’ve come to miss the teamwork and collaboration of working in teams. Additionally, the work I’m able to have a direct impact on is generally quite narrow as it’s restricted to what I am capable of producing. Previously I was able to guide branding projects, copywriting, illustration and so much more, whereas now I for the most part stay tightly inside my little UX pigeonhole.

My solution to the elements above is simple; I don’t want to give up my ability to play a hand in the launch of multiple exciting startups and I value working in a highly skilled, multi-disciplinary team so, I’m launching a product design studio.

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Never Before Seen is a diverse team of highly specialised creative professionals here to help startups design and launch groundbreaking products.

Never Before Seen is an agency with a twist. Unlike traditional agencies, we are a team of weird and wonderful creative people in standard areas like UX, web design, interface design and front-end development but also in more obscure niches like illustration, hand lettering, whitepaper production and much more. In tune with my belief that location should not be a consideration in the hiring process, the team is located all around the world, with myself being based in Melbourne, Australia.

To achieve this high level of skill diversity, NBS operates in a fairly unique way. Just about everyone on the team is a freelancer, allowing us to quickly band together a bespoke team of creatives for each client that covers of the skillset they actually require and isn’t merely the group of jack-of-all-trades designers that you get with so many agencies. Each team has a project director (me) who can guide the creative process and ensure a consistent visual language is maintained across disciplines. This technique contrasts starkly with the method used by so many early startups whereby they engage a fleet of freelancers who all work independently and produce scattered, incohesive results.

NBS soft launched about six months ago, and since then we’ve worked with two startups in the method outlined above, helping one with a fundraising campaign and roadshow and the other with a major redesign of their visual identity and interface.

Our clientele are — if you couldn’t have guessed it — startups. Specifically, tech startups. Having worked in startups for 5+ years, I’ve come to understand the realities of launching a new product and all that goes into securing funding, creating the first version of a product and actually taking that product to market. With this experience in hand, NBS is looking for companies to work with that are anywhere from pre-seed to up-and-running. See below for a quick summary of our two primary services…

Product design

We get how to turn ideas into products that truly provide value to the people who use them. We specialise in building all-new products and taking them to market. Our services include…

  • Understanding user needs through user research
  • Devising a minimum viable product
  • User experience & interface design
  • Handover of design to developers and QA
  • User testing of prototypes

Fundraising / launch partner

We know the realities of getting a new company off the ground having worked at the initial phase of dozens of startups. We’re here to help you with…

  • Communicating the idea
  • Pitch decks
  • Branding
  • Web design
  • Prototype creation
  • Whitepaper production

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this new chapter. Despite the commonality of the designer-launches-an-agency tale, this feels like the right direction to be moving. If you’d like to follow along as Never Before Seen matures, I’m on Twitter @mrjeremyblaze, and you can also follow @neverbeforeco.

If you’re interested in our services, please get in touch with me directly and we can have a chat, or visit neverbeforeseen.co to learn more.

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