Getting to Know: Craig Gephart, Design
In the “Getting to Know” interview series, we spotlight a different Alloy team member each month to help you get to know the talented and friendly folks behind our products.
Craig is our Head of Design at Alloy. Previously, he was the Head of Design and a co-founder at Liveli, a platform to help companies hire employees in the service industry. He received his BFA in graphic design from Ohio University.
1. Why did you join Alloy?
I like working on products that can have a meaningful impact. Inventory problems cost companies as much as $1T annually, so a product like Alloy that helps brands align better with consumer demand has immense value. I think there are few companies that right out of the gate have as much potential as Alloy has. There is tremendous opportunity in the smart-enterprise space to create solutions in markets that have traditionally been seen as “unsexy,” like finance and logistics.
When I joined the company, I knew that the core team was extremely capable and experienced. I had worked with several of them previously, and I think we had all learned a lot of lessons by working together that we could apply to what Alloy is trying to accomplish.
2. What do you do at Alloy?
I lead all design-focused areas of projects, from product design, branding, and marketing to recruiting and internal culture. On a daily basis I am usually making wireframes and specs for new features of our product, working with engineers to implement those features; collaborating with the marketing team on our branding and communications efforts, and even planning and making decisions about the spaces where we work. I come from a multi-disciplinary background, and I’m a firm believer that all these elements should inform one another to create a cohesive system. All these elements should be in harmony.
3. What’s been the most challenging part of your work so far?
Alloy is an extremely powerful and versatile tool, but we work really hard to make sure that its flexibility doesn’t make it too complex to use. We have a saying internally that we strive to make our product “consumer-grade,” which means we think it should be as easy to use as the apps we all use regularly on a day-to-day basis.
We have team members practicing design thinking in many different roles at the company. Our engineers care deeply about the details of the user interface, and we are in constant conversation with our Client Solutions team about ways they think we can improve the product for our users. In the consumer products industry, the existing applications people typically have look like they are 25 years old, are confusing to operate, and are very slow. We want Alloy to be a breath of fresh air for this underserved market.
4. What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar career?
Design can be a very versatile field — you can have a career designing brands and logos, websites, museums and exhibits, print and marketing materials, signage and wayfinding, user experience and products, fashion, motion graphics, or any combination of those things. I started my career designing environmental graphics and exhibits for the new Yankee Stadium in New York. That was a $2b project that took several years.
Whether you are a contractor fabricating a 30-foot-tall mural or an engineer building a mobile app, the process is similar. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of the materials and tools you’re using, and how to best leverage the capabilities of collaborators. You coordinate through the different stages of the process — from concept, to construction, to delivery/installation — and find ways to work through the unforeseen hurdles along the way.
The market for designers in the tech industry right now is one of the best opportunities that design has ever had. We’re given the opportunity to have an ownership stake in our work, both in terms of equity and seeing the product evolve through multiple iterations. In the consulting world, often times you draft up guidelines and might see a product through its initial version, but then you hand over control to someone else. In the tech industry, you have the opportunity to continuously improve and evolve your work. There’s greater accountability, responsibility, and, if everything goes well, an opportunity to share in the upside down the road.
5. What do you like to do outside of the office?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I played bass in a Radiohead cover band back in school. I try to see as much live music as I can, and I keep a running list of all the concerts I’ve been to. There has been a rediscovery in 80s music and culture the last few years, and I was excited to get to see people like Morrissey, Gary Numan, and Depeche Mode. These guys were the pioneers of electronic music, literally wiring keyboards together to make new sounds. It’s amazing that they’re not only still touring, but they’re still selling out arenas and they still put on a fantastic show.