insights by tech leaders on design in venture capital

1. How does a design perspective help in evaluating an investment decision, in obvious ways?
I might be unusual in this regard: I'm not all that interested in evaluating investment decisions. There's absolutely room for a design perspective to help deciding when to invest money (assessing a team's capability for understanding its customers and designing a great product, etc. etc.) but I'm personally far more interested in how we invest our time with our companies. Design can change the way teams work, understand their customers, and make product decisions—and that's the part that excites me.

2. How does a design perspective help in evaluating an investment decision, in non-obvious ways?
Every VC has a method for evaluating investment decisions. Applying design to that method itself is non-obvious—and pretty interesting.

3. Where have you seen a designer’s perspective possibly harmful in the investment process?
Designers are sometimes suckers for good design (and good design is not predictive of product-market fit).

4. What are three characteristics in a company’s structure/history that will likely lead to success in leveraging design?
The most important characteristic is curiosity. If a company's leaders want to learn about their customers—if they don't think they've already got it all figured out—that's a company that has the potential to be great at design, no matter what their structure.

5. How do you best support CEOs with a purely technical and/or business background to leverage design in their startup?
We get them in a room in a sprint! The sprint process demystifies design and aligns it with the questions—business, technical, or otherwise—that all leaders want to answer.

6. What are a few challenges you’ve seen in working with companies that have caught “the design bug” -- especially the CEO?
The “design bug” can certainly be dangerous! Sometimes a leader decides that design is magic, and that designers can generate the right answer without data or even critical argument. In the absence of data, design is just fancy guessing.

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