Fast Company’s Co.Design has compiled six lessons from the Designer Founders book series, which includes interviews with designers about the path they took to create tech startups.
The first edition features conversations with Evan Sharp of Pinterest, Rashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Yves Béhar of fuseproject, Christina Brodbeck of theicebreak, and Scott Belsky and Matias Corea of Behance. Collectively, they’ve helped create over a billion dollars of value and impacted the lives of millions. Our book shares their personal stories while expanding the popular notion of what designers can achieve. Reading through the interviews, we selected five lessons for aspiring entrepreneurial designers.
1. Start with side projects.
One lesson comes from Evan Sharp of Pinterest, who says, “We just built [Pinterest] for fun … We built this prototype that’s basically the same thing we have today. Honestly, it’s kind of crazy.”
2. Build on small wins.
Rashmi Sinha started her own user experience consultancy and built a gamified research tool called MindCanvas. It started to make money, which gave her the confidence and resources to try and build something bigger. ”I just took it step after step,” she says. That something became the presentation-sharing platform Slideshare.
3. Don’t settle for making things pretty.
“The work of design is not to skin stuff, says Yves Béhar of fuseproject. “It’s not to put a nice dumb box around whatever is inside. It’s the whole conception. Design should deliver the whole ecosystem.”
4. Prove yourself and create opportunities.
The fourth lesson comes from Christina Brodbeck, who began her startup career while holding down a fellowship at NASA as a UI designer. “I really had to prove myself,” she says. “Some days when I was ‘working from home,’ I was really in the city working to convince [MRL Ventures] to hire me.”
5. Find a partner who’s your complement.
The fifth piece of advice comes from Scott Belsky and Matias Corea of Behance.The duo was able to overcome their weakness in part through their complementary skill sets: Belsky went to business school, and Corea studied design. Each trusted the other to compensate for his lack of expertise.
6. It’s not easy, so you better love it.
“Find something you really love to do because statistically the odds are your startup won’t work out. But if you love it, who cares who tells you no.”
[Image: Illustration via Shutterstock]
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