Not on our watch

People > Pixels: A Manifesto

Based on the above definition, we’re already parked in a no-parking zone.

You X Ventures is not a political entity. We’re not looking for votes and we’re not asking for your approval. We’re not really running for anything, but we are running towards something.

This Manifesto is our public declaration of our intentions and aspirations as a Design Firm and Venture Partner and we hope that it helps you understand why we spend our professional lives designing products and businesses and why it matters so much to us how we go about doing that.

Quite simply:

We’re going to share why You X Ventures exist and what reality we’re looking to create along that journey.

Let’s begin with Why because, well: Simon Sinek is a wise man …

1. Verses Matter

Dead Poets Society
“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse … what will your verse be?” — Dead Poets Society

Life is incredibly precious, fragile and full of wonder. It is a gift and a miraculous journey. We feel compelled to make the most of our time here and for us — that means doing so with and for others.

We’re constantly inspired by amazing entrepreneurs, founders and leaders who passionately pursue a verse that’s dedicated to helping others. As passionate entrepreneurs ourselves, we also want the flexibility to invest our own verses from time to time when the feeling is right.

It’s for this reason that we’ve drawn a line in the sand to say that we’re only going to dedicate our efforts to supporting visionaries both outside and within our organization that believe that improving, supporting, inspiring and caring for others matters most. For those occasions when our own ideas inspire, we may look to invest as well.

Given that we operate professionally within the domain of emerging technologies and design, we express that commitment through our code of ethics:

People > Pixels


2. Beautiful Bags

American Beauty
“Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it” — American Beauty

We live in the great city of Toronto in the most incredible country in the world: Canada. We’re lucky enough to live in a Country that’s progressive, inclusive, socially conscious, innovate and humble.

Like any Country or City, it’s roots are human — and so they’re fundamentally flawed as well. But beyond those flaws, lies hope. Hope that we can actually figure out how to cooperate, appreciate and help others both here and around the globe. That we might perhaps be the people that solve the human quandary of cooperation, compassion, love and care for ourselves and those among us.

In the business world — and in the service industry in particular — we find that negativity, cynicism, narcissism, profit and self-interest still rule the hearts and minds of many of our colleagues and peers. Salaries are not high enough. Bonuses are not big enough. Timelines are not fast enough. Nothing is quite good enough.

We want to dream along our partners and put our best selves forward in the spirit of achievement and accomplishment — but not at the sake of our mental and physical well-being, our time with our friends, siblings, cousins, parents, children and grandparents. We want to do great things, but we never want to forget that one of those great things involves giving ourselves our own opportunities to evolve, learn and improve ourselves. We need to afford time to see the beauty in the world and in ourselves. Without it: we’ve missed our verse.

Many call this topic of conversation one of work/life balance. We express it as follows:

Beauty > Work


3. Come What May

Now I’m going to hunt down that Shark, or whatever it is, and hopefully kill it. I don’t know how yet, maybe dynamite” — The Life Aquatic.

Ideas are everywhere. We live in a sea of them. Most of them are fundamentally crazy, flawed and irrational to some degree — but we’re all aware of the paradox and the truth of ideas, which is that they can (and many do) change the world for the better when nurtured and developed.

Dedication, Loyalty and commitment is a lost art. Seeing anything through to the end is under-appreciated notion these days. We believe that staying true to your team, your word and that promises are the one that that you’re really left with at the end of the day.

We know that in order for people to do great things — they need to feel supported at every turn, no matter what the circumstance. Whether You X Ventures is successful in the projects and businesses we embark on or not — we want to be able to look at one another and those we collaborate with and be able to say — we never backed down and always put the team before ourselves.

We express this sentiment as:

Trust > Projects


Theory + Practice?

So — How does You X Ventures activate this manifesto of:

  1. People > Pixels
  2. Beauty > Work
  3. Trust > Projects

Here’s how we put these principles into action:

Operationally

  • We only work with a fixed number of clients at a time during the course of a business quarter (4–5 per quarter depending on the scope). This allows us to dedicate ourselves to their mission and maintain our focus on the goals we’re collectively striving towards on a quarterly basis.
  • We only work with companies who share our principles and demonstrate that through their business, product or operations.
  • We provide a fixed cost models around prioritized deliverables so that we’re never counting hours, drafting changes requests and worrying about scope creep. Once we’ve committed to a deliverable: it’s on us to deliver and on our partners to have our backs at every turn just as we have theirs.

Procedurally

  • We kickoff every project with a multidimensional OKR roadmap workshop so that we can understand the dream and prioritize how design is best positioned to accelerate the product and business to reach its goals.
  • We provide full-transparency into our daily activities and efforts to build trust and promote ongoing collaboration through our design process.
  • We dedicate people to projects and build personal relationships along the way. We also ensure that our founder is personally involved as a UX Director on every project — regardless of size.

Culturally

  • We support and value our team members personal and professional goals equally and do everything we can to support their individuals drive to live life to the fullest.
  • We allow for unlimited vacation and sick days and provide as much flexibility in preferred work schedules as our productivity and collaborative requirements allow.
  • We share profits quarterly and provide our team members every opportunity to put forth their product/business concepts as potential Ventures we support through our hybrid VC/Partnership program.
  • We invest in a quarterly Kids x Tech event to bring together educators, designers, developers, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and parents to explore/debate the impact that technology is having on both child development and families alike.

This is far from a complete Manifesto and as a firm that’s celebrating our 17th month in business, it’s sure to evolve and change like every living product/business document we work with. We look forward to the opportunity to hold ourselves accountable to principles and we want to thank the inspired entrepreneurs and leaders who have placed their trust in us since our inception, helping us to create the reality we strive for by supporting the creation of theirs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you’re working on something inspired – we hope to meet you soon.

Jason Goodman – Founder, You X Ventures


@youxventures is a design firm that believes people matter most in the realities we create. We help startups & businesses to reach their goals through research, strategy, architecture, UX/UI design and seed investments. Learn more at www.youxventures.com or connect with our founder directly at jason@youxventures.com

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