insights by tech leaders on design in venture capital
1. How does a design perspective help in evaluating an investment decision, in
It allows you to explore the product and team through a set of lenses (both old school design and business design) additive to the traditional business diligence lenses. How does the team see the future of the product (and therefore their business)? What's the value prop and the desirability of the product? What's the usability and the friction of the experience like?
2. How does a design perspective help in evaluating an investment decision, in non-obvious ways?
It allows you to explore the capacity and priorities of an executive team through a different set of lenses. How well do they know their user? How deeply do they know their product? What do they value? What's the larger story?
3. Where have you seen a designer’s perspective possibly harmful in the investment process?
Too heavy a focus on a very 'sexy' product and conflating that with a team's ability to execute on product, while they may not have a clear glide path toward revenue or product-market fit.
4. What are three characteristics in a company’s structure/history that will likely lead to success in leveraging design?
- Engineering - Product development philosophy and execution process
- First design hire
- Empathy for user
5. How do you best support CEOs with a purely technical and/or business background to leverage design in their startup?
Have them speak directly to users/customers and help them bridge from customer needs to design and product development.
6. What are a few challenges you’ve seen in working with companies that have caught “the design bug” -- especially the CEO?
They spend too much time on it... either too much time on it evenly distributed without priorities...or they think it will solve all of their problems.
7. Which public companies out there do you admire for their approach to design?
- Whole Foods
8. Which startups in the CONSUMER space do you think embody design in their companies particularly well, and why?
- FiftyThree - Product development roadmap
- Casper - Amazing team structure
- Pocket - Keep it simple
9. Which three startups in the ENTERPRISE space do you think embody design in their companies particularly well, and why?
- Slack - Tone of voice and product personality
- Enigma.io - Makes complicated things very simple
- Robin Hood - Makes complicated things very simple
10. What are a few URLs of your favorite writings on design in the VC space (including your own)?
Made in 2016 by John Maeda