Design Insights from Designer Fund

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Welcome to the first article in our Design Impact Series, where we explore inside stories from our portfolio companies. From internal team structure to design philosophy to UX, this series looks at the ways design can lead to greater impact.

How Stripe changed the game

Stripe exists because Patrick and John Collison decided to fix the overly complex process of moving money online. Since its founding in 2010, Stripe has evolved from a developer-focused payments platform to a 14-product suite that facilitates an array of financial interactions online, supporting businesses and entrepreneurs around the globe.

Like any successful start-up, there’s the mythology and then there’s…


Designed by the communications design team at Asana.

There’s something I often hear from designers at early-stage startups in my work at Designer Fund: “I wish we had more clarity around the process we use to take a product from idea to launch.”

This is why I often recommend to teams and leaders that they create a map of their ideal design process. In other words, a template that everyone can refer to as they bring a product from idea to ship.

A process map can help a growing design team scale, produce quickly, maintain brand cohesion, and make sure each individual is working on projects that come…


Design critiques are an essential part of the design process. If run effectively, critiques can elevate a team’s work and contribute to a team culture of trust and collaboration. Continuing to make effective use of this time can be challenging as organizations grow and responsibilities shift. We spoke with design leaders at Facebook, Asana, and Medium to learn how they’ve maintained a productive critique process over time. Although there is no one-size-fits-all model, their insights provide a great blueprint for any growing design team.


There are countless books, seminars, conferences, and programs to teach you about business leadership, but design leadership requires an entirely different skill set and is not nearly as well documented. It can take years to master the management complexities at the intersection of business and creativity, but many design leaders are forced to learn on the job. To shorten the learning curve, we’ve gathered some unique insights from top managers and design leads to help you become a better design leader.


A design team with an excellent job leveling system has an easier time retaining the designers they worked so hard to hire.

Practically speaking, leveling can be directly tied to career path, job titles, salary bands, and how valued an employee feels. And more broadly, it supports the everyday expression of company values, which provides the intrinsic motivation and purpose necessary for an individual to feel fulfilled by their work.

The main purposes of leveling are to:

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities for more efficient collaboration within the design team and among company departments.
  • Create an environment of growth where designers are rewarded with a sense of career…

Original photo by Alain Delorme

Every company wants a healthy design culture, the challenge is getting there. When faced with the need for cultural change, leadership often fails to be effective because they miss the real challenge: you can’t design a culture directly.

Here’s what usually happens during a well-intentioned team revamp: A group of leaders gets into a room, creates a list of company values, and unveils them with posters on the wall. Then they wait. Or a company hires an executive from Apple because they want a culture like Apple’s, and then hope the new hire will make it so.

But the culture…


One of the most common questions I get from designers is, “How did you convince your company to invest in design?” I usually answer that I didn’t, and to an extent that’s true. I’ve more often been asked to work on large design projects that have already been identified, rather than making the case for them myself. Dodging the question isn’t helpful to the courageous designers out there looking to influence their company roadmaps, though. I salute you and want to help where I can. …


When you’re at the theatre, you don’t often think about the backstage crew. Behind every actress on center stage are dozens of skilled supporters, running in dozens of directions, to bring every stage production to life. HR professionals are often the unsung heroes of organizations that keep teams operating on a daily basis. Gusto, an all-in-one provider of payroll, benefits, and HR solutions, makes these backstage players the stars of the show.


This piece was originally posted on the Designer Fund blog. Designer Fund invests in startups co-founded by designers to build and educate design teams through Bridge.

A few years ago, I hurt myself knitting. I knitted four baby sweaters in 10 days — including during some very extended international flights — which resulted in searing pain from tendonitis. I had to wear a wrist brace, and everyone assumed I had carpal tunnel from typing.


This piece was originally posted on the Designer Fund blog. Designer Fund invests in startups co-founded by designers and builds and educate design teams through Bridge.

What’s Inside:

· A Shift in How We Work
·
Big Companies
·
Mid-Stage Startups
·
Early Stage Startups
·
Closing

A Shift In How We Work

Many of us who trained as graphic or industrial designers could never have envisioned a career in technology — and then suddenly, given the rare combination of timing, opportunity, and market, we find ourselves thrust into an industry that we’re not just new to but is also rapidly changing how all people work.

Our training is still suited for more traditional paths in the arts and design, instead of preparing us for industries that are rapidly changing and emerging. And as…

Design Insights from Designer Fund

Designer Fund backs exceptional founders and empowers them with design to improve the world.

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