Who Should Attend the Design Gurus Summit?

Designers, marketers, front-end developers, product experts and any other creative professional will benefit from attending.

And because different people on the design team perform different jobs, here are some suggestions on how you can get the most out of the Design Gurus Summit, depending on your functional area.

The User Experience Designer: Meet Jorge Arango, author of O’Reilly’s Polar Bear book on information architecture for the web and beyond.

The Graphic Designer: Meet and mingle with an audience of creative professionals who are sure to inspire and motivate you to achieve creative greatness on your next project.

The Design Researcher: Connect with Aruna Balakrishnan, Design Research Lead at Dropbox, to discuss the finer points of design research methodology.

The Front-End Developer: Learn about the latest development trends from panelist Karl Carstensen, Principal Design Technologist at Frog Design.

The Product Designer: Meet design experts from Silicon Valley product powerhouses like Facebook, Salesforce, Netflix, Adobe and more.

The Design Manager: Hear from Meredith Black, Head of Design Operations at Pinterest on how to manage and organize a design team.

The Creative Director: Get inspired by award-winning Executive Creative Director of Butchershop Creative, Trevor Hubbard.

The Agency Executive: Listen to Nick Gould, President and COO of legendary software design agency Cooper’s talk.

The Student or Career-Changer: Learn about the design field and connect with successful professionals who may give you the break you need to jumpstart your design career.

Non-Designers

The Marketer: Unleash the power of design and creativity to accelerate your marketing.

The Entrepreneur: Recruit talent to help you with your latest venture.

The Engineer: Use design thinking to improve performance and usability of your projects.

The Design Gurus Summit 2017 will take place on September 19th in San Francisco. Click here to get 20% off tickets.

Want to Convince Your Boss to Let You go to The Design Gurus Summit?

Follow this Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Be Enthusiastic. Simple, I know. But if you’re not excited, they won’t be excited about it. Be confident. Have energy. Your boss will be much more likely to agree to letting you expense your ticket if you’re fired up.

Step 2: Email Them. Do not write a long email explaining why you want to go. Your boss does not have time to read it. Just send the link with a short note, so they can see all the great speakers. Use a descriptive email subject line, like: Design Summit w/ Adobe, Netflix, IDEO, Cooper & Facebook — Cheap Tickets Available Until July 1. Your boss gets a ton of email, so don’t expect a response right away. Rest assured they will read the subject line. This way, it won’t be a surprise when you bring it up later.

Step 3: Prepare. You need to prepare. You will need one, or if you’re an overachiever, two reasons why it’s a good idea for you to go to the event. Remember, all bosses want you to be the best you can be. You just need to convince them that you’re not wasting the company’s time. Here are a few good reasons to get you started:

  • Presentations from the most creative people in Silicon Valley. Award-winning creatives and top design gurus will share their experience, which is sure to inspire.
  • Meet and learn from industry peers. In addition to the speakers, a lot of smart and talented people will be in the audience. You will also learn from them.
  • Stay current with recent trends in design. Learn the latest techniques top companies use to approach branding, product design and more.
  • It’s a cost-effective approach. Tickets are cheaper than nearly every other event of this size. And it’s the only digital product design focused conference in SF.

Step 4: Find The Right Time: Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, and prepared, find your boss in the hall and ask them casually if you can attend. Be sure to do it early in the day, when they aren’t too tired and worn out. You can mention the email you sent two days ago. That’s a good ice breaker. Here is an example, “I just wanted to follow up on my email about the Design Gurus Summit. It’s the only full-day event focused on digital product design in SF and I really wanted to see Yiying Lu, the creator of the Twitter Fail Whale speak. Do you think I could expense my ticket? If I buy it now, it’s only $100.00. Thanks.”

Step 5: Buy Super Early Bird Tickets. There are still a few left. You can use this link to get an additional 20% off the list price. That’s only $100.00 per ticket and you’ll save the company money.

Good Luck,

Gregory Kennedy

President and Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

www.unchartedminds.com

Design Gurus Summit: Q&A with Yiying Lu, Award-winning Artist, Designer and Creative Director at 500 Startups

Yiying Lu award-winning artist and designer. Born in Shanghai China, Educated in Sydney Australia & London UK, now based in San Francisco Silicon Valley, she currently is the Creative Director at 500 Startups, the world’s most active venture capital firm and startup accelerator. Yiying was named a “Top 10 Emerging Leader in Innovation” in the Microsoft Next 100 series. Her projects have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times,Forbes, The Atlantic, NBC News, TIME, Wired Magazine, and so on. Yiying’s client list includes Disney, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Twitter, Sony, Expedia, and so on. Her notable projects include Disney Shanghai Recruitment Campaign, the official Dumpling Emoji, the Twitter Fail Whale, Conan O’Brien’s Pale Whale, and the SXSW Interactive Big Bag Art.

Yiying has taught typography and magazine design at the University of Technology Sydney, and also a guest lecturer at the Program of Creativity and Innovation at New York University, Shanghai. She currently works with startup companies and corporate organizations in Silicon Valley and around the world to improve their branding and design, in order to increase their user acquisition and market growth.

She will be speaking at the Uncharted Minds Design Gurus Summit on September 19th. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in art and design?

A. Oh yes! I always find art and design fascinating. My grandfather encouraged me to draw and make art pieces at a very young age, and I happened to really have a knack for — which activates my creative mind. As a teenager, I decided to attend a technology high school that focused on mathematics — which stimulate my analytical mind. This was while I was growing up in Shanghai. It was the combination of both areas that gave me such a passion for design, as design combines both left-brain and right-brain approaches, the analytical mind and the creative mind.

I personally consider art and design as two different languages. Sometimes they intersect, other times they differ from each other. It depends on the intentions behind these 2 creative acts. My understanding is that design is usually conclusive — design aims to find a solution, often for other people’s problem. It’s more of a collective act, thus a good design practice requires communication and empathy. Art is often open ended. It raises a question — art aims to release the inner voice, often from the artist. It’s more of an individual act. Thus a good art practice requires passion and dedication.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I was born and raised in Shanghai, which has always been a very multicultural place — it is a meeting point of traditional & modern; the fusion of east and west.

When I was born, China had just opened its door to the rest of the world. I remember in the early 90s a huge wave of foreign trades and investments happened in the country. In order to maintain their authenticity and also cater to the local audience, Western brands adopted an interesting mixed use of eastern and western design elements. For example, KFC and McDonald’s uses both English words and Chinese characters in their logos. Coca Cola had traditional Chinese patterns embedded in their package design. Pizza Hut even offers Peking Duck Pizza. Many other brands adopted similar approaches.

Shanghai has been known for adopting avant garde ideas and fashion, while preserving the traditional culture and ideology — such as the Shikumen (a traditional Shanghainese architectural style combining Western and Chinese elements that first appeared in the 1860s). This juxtaposition of western and Chinese cultural elements set the foundation for my design ideology, creating design experiences which embodies local flair in the context of globalization.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I took an introductory Design & Media course at University of New South Wales, where I explored various areas in design and realized I was very passionate about visual communication. I then transferred to the University of Technology Sydney to pursue a degree in visual design communication and graduated with first class honors. I specialized in Typography, Magazine Design, and Illustration. I went abroad and studied Advertising for a semester at Central St. Martins College of Art Design in London, UK. I enjoyed my classes so much that I decided to work with the global advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson during my final year at school. In my job, I combined the design thinking skills I gained at CMS to conceptualize ideas and the technical skills I learned at UTS execute my ideas.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My father worked as a Japanese-Chinese translator in marketing, travelling between Tokyo and Shanghai for many years. My mother went with him during my childhood and became a stay-at-home mom. She is a fantastic cook. She also likes to makes fashionable clothes, which I still wear today.

Q. Tell me about your first creative job.

A. During school, my first creative job was teaching at my university. One of my professors suggested that I should teach typography and magazine design in my second year in Sydney.

But I did a number of other things to earn money before teaching, during my first year at college: I was a waitress in a Yum Cha Restaurant, which actually provided great foundation and inspiration for my dumpling emoji designs; I made sushi for a while; I conducted government surveys as a bilingual interviewer. These were in fact all creative jobs as well, because I designed and created experiences for other people.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about creativity?

A. A good design practice should involve some degree of “play”. I believe designing is a nonlinear process. It’s like improv comedy. It’s about working with others and embracing uncertainty as part of the process.

Over time and with experience, you gain the confidence that you can come up with better solutions. More importantly, you will be able to create something truly extraordinary. I think Maya Angelou said it best, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Q. Tell me about your role with 500 Startups?

A. I’m currently working at 500 Startups as a creative director. My role is two-fold. I manage and represent the 500 Startups brand. I also provide coaching and mentoring for our batch companies on branding and design.

I work with our accelerator team, fundraising team, business development team, and event team at 500, to establish 500’s global presence through creative marketing campaigns, as well as company sub-branding logos and designs, such as Geeks on A Plane, Demo Days, Weapons of Mass Distribution, etc. I also teach branding classes and offer creative workshops for companies in our seed program. I also like to share my knowledge of branding, marketing and design on the 500 blog and educate entrepreneurs on global user acquisition and growth.

Q. What do you do for creative inspiration? How do you generate so many ideas and stay inspired?

A. I find inspiration everywhere, even in the most mundane places. I can get inspired by going to San Francisco Chinatown, or when I have a great bowl of Pho, or the patterns from the skin of a honeydew melon, F line streetcar, city lights, I even find doing this Q&A inspiring… When you are paying attention and appreciating the wonder of ordinary life, you will discover something extra-ordinary. When you are curious and having fun, extraordinary ideas will come to you. If you live each day with a sense of wonder, ideas will flow through you.

I love collaborating and communicating with people. I call this the mind ping-pong. A great conversation is a great energy change. Sharing ideas with others helps me think better and come up with new ideas a lot faster.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Always start with the question, Why? Ask why you are doing this? Why did you make that choice? When you start asking why, you will find that you’ve had the answer all along.

Q. Hardest part of being a creative director?

A. The most challenging part is the moment when you get a new project and you are required to be creative. I believe creativity is a never ending dance of duality between two states of mind: Confidence and Fear. No matter how much experience you have, there are always constraints, challenges, and insecurities, which create fear: a fear that you may fail, a fear that your ideas won’t be as good as last time, a fear that your client might not like you work, a fear that you might not like your own work.

Q. Favorite part of being a creative director?

A. How I am able to continue conquer the hardest part.

Design Gurus Summit 2017 The (Nearly) Full Line Up

Yes, it's happening again. Can you believe it?

This year we’ve partnered with top Silicon Valley brands including Netflix, Adobe, Airbnb, Facebook, 500 Startups, IDEO, Salesforce, Butchershop, Futuredraft, Sojern, Captial One Labs, Dropbox & More to produce the most ambitious Uncharted Minds event to date.

You won't find more creative and talented people under one roof! And definitely not at this price point.

The Second Annual Design Gurus Summit will be a full-day (Yes!) of both keynotes and panels from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm on September 19th. The audience will be limited to only 200 participants, which will create a warm and intimate atmosphere. Like all our events, this will help facilitate audience participation, with opportunities to engage speakers in a dialogue and ask great questions.

Super Early Bird Tickets Are Going Fast

At only $125.00, it's a bargain. You get up close and personal with some of Silicon Valley's most creative people. And with the discount code, you only pay $100.00. Use this link to get 20% off tickets or use the code ‘insider’.

Special pricing won't last. It ends on July 1st, so get your tickets now.

See You in September,
The Team at Uncharted Minds

Planning is Almost More Fun Than Printing

Q&A with Joel Benson, Founder, Dependable Letterpress

Joel discovered the satisfaction of putting ink to paper in 1987 at a book arts class at UC Santa Cruz, and felt he’d finally found his calling. An apprenticeship with the Yolla Bolly Press followed, and later a job with Julie Holcomb Printers in San Francisco, introduced him to Heidelberg presses and the practice of production printing. Joel Benson started Dependable Letterpress in 2002 in his basement in San Francisco’s Mission District. In 2004, the shop graduated to a workspace in the Dogpatch on the Bay side of Potrero Hill. These days, we are still happy at home in the Dogpatch filling a much larger space.

He will be speaking at Uncharted Minds: Ode to Analog on June 15th. Click here to get tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in design and printing?

A. My parents are craftspeople. My father is a woodworker and my mother a textile artist. So, I grew up making stuff.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. The class at UCSC that is mentioned in my bio. I also had an apprenticeship at the Yolla Bolly Press in 1987 that really opened my eyes to the tradition of fine printing.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. They were artists who taught for a living.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I started out studying classics and philosophy. I switched to art when I discovered my love of printing.

Q. How did you get started in letterpress?

A. I took a class as an elective in college that was taught by a rare book dealer, George Kane. He taught us the basics of setting type and printing. He also brought in examples to every class of beautiful book design and printing, that I found very inspiring. In his class we would talk about the history of the small press, and special edition book printing. I then apprenticed for Yolla Bolly, where I experienced doing print work at a high level. After that, I worked for Julie Holcomb Printers when she was here in San Francisco. That’s where I learned the discipline of commercial printing. It was those three experiences that set me on this path.

Q. What were some early lessons that shaped your approach to creativity and design?

A. I don’t know if I could articulate my approach to creativity and design, let alone what shaped it. I guess I don’t have a conscious “approach”, I just do it. But, I would say that working on books at Yolla Bolly Press impressed upon me the importance of proofing printing. You need to test and model things, with the final materials. Because, in printing, you can never be certain how the materials will react.

Q. What do you do for inspiration? How do you generate ideas and stay inspired?

A. My ideas don’t happen in a vacuum. For me, they arise from working, experimenting and collaborating. I also get a lot of inspiration from seeing the work other local letterpress people are doing. We’re a collegial lot, and we like to admire each other’s work. Hanging out and talking shop is a regular source of inspiration for me. I also like to look at other types of art and understand their processes. Painting, photography, illustration are areas that I am interested in. My ideas can come from surprising places.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. I don’t know that I’m qualified to give anyone advice, especially in a world that is changing in ways I don’t fully understand. What use is career advice, if robots are going to do all the work, and we’re going to become animals of leisure?

That said, my core career beliefs are:

  1. Make Do With What You Have (or Do What You Are Good At)
  2. Find People You Admire And Be Like Them
  3. And lastly, Be Yourself

After that, if you can find work that you believe is important, you’re in luck.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of running a letterpress print shop?

A. Making it pay. It’s an inherently expensive process because the machines are much slower than a contemporary printing processes. And time is money.

Q. What’s your favorite aspect of running a letterpress print shop?

A. The collaborative relationships I have with designers and other creative folks. It’s very satisfying to start with a design created on a computer. First we talk about what they need this piece to do. Then, pull out samples and swatchbooks, and talk about how to make that design a real object that you hold in your hand. Planning the jobs is almost more fun than actually printing them.

The Best Way to Have Good Ideas is to Have a Lot of Ideas

Q&A with Nate Clinton, Managing Director at Cooper

Nate is the Managing Director at Cooper’s San Francisco office. In his role, he blends the decisiveness and collaborative skills of a product manager with the acumen of an economist to build bridges with people and organizations. Equal parts teacher and student, Nate leads initiatives in content creation, business development, and creative leadership. At Cooper, he helped United Airlines find new ways to reward loyal customers, led an effort at GE Healthcare to create a strategy for the international expansion of a key product line, and designed solutions for workplace collaboration, delivering technology to schools, and the future of the connected kitchen. Before Cooper, Nate led design and product management at BuildZoom, and was a Director of Product Management at Thomson Reuters. In his spare time, Nate plays piano, searches for amazing meals, and knows how to bake a mean english muffin.

He will be speaking at Uncharted Minds: Beyond the Button, Design for Conversational User Interfaces on May 24th. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in design?

A. I grew up in Cairo, Egypt, a place that was both my home and foreign at the same time. I developed an appreciation for the feeling of being an outsider and also seeing things from other perspectives. But I had no idea that “design” existed when I was growing up. Like most people, I never really considered where things in the world came from — they just appeared.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. After a stint doing research at the Fed in Washington DC, in 2005 I bought a VW bus and painted it and drove it across the country to San Francisco. I had studied economics and computer science but knew nothing at all about creating software. I took at job as a QA engineer at a fintech startup called StarMine, and quickly realized that the product managers were making all the fun decisions. So I asked one of them how to become a product manager. One of my first tasks was to read Alan Cooper’s “About Face” and start applying that thinking to StarMine’s product line. Mentors creating opportunities for me has been instrumental to my career.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I studied economics and mathematics, with a minor in computer science.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. School librarian and college counselor.

Q. Tell me about your first design job.

A. My first design job was at StarMine, where the product managers were expected to design the product (design as a profession was still in its adolescence). We didn’t call ourselves designers, but we created mockups and specifications and interviewed users. Excel was our design tool of choice, if you can believe it: it had a built-in grid system! The product was not very beautiful, unfortunately, but it worked, and created a lot of value for users.

Q. What were some early lessons that shaped your approach to creativity and design?

A. One lesson I learned early was that the best way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas. The big myths about creativity are that it is a solo activity, and that it happens quickly. I watched the movie “Amadeus” a bunch of times when I was a kid, and I had this false notion that creative solutions just spring out of solo genius minds fully formed. The truth is that design is a team sport.

Q. Tell me about your role with Cooper.

A. I lead Cooper’s San Francisco design studio, from recruiting to new client development to project leadership. It’s a group of incredibly talented people, and it’s a privilege to work with each of them.

Q. What do you do for inspiration? How do you generate ideas and stay inspired?

A. My main inspiration comes from words and sounds: I have what you might call a reading “ritual” or cycle — it takes me from current events to broader cultural and economic trends to literature, and back again. I listen to Garrison Keeler’s “Writer’s Almanac” in the morning: a daily dose of poetry. I play my piano in the evenings, and sing to my son. These things both activate and relieve the stress on my brain, and they keep me motivated.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. The first piece of advice I usually give is: start doing the thing you love to do, and don’t wait for someone to give you permission (for example, permission in the form of a job title). If design is what you love, but your job title is something else, go learn about design tools and techniques and start applying them to whatever job you have. My first job title was “Research Assistant” in a group of economists in the federal government, but it was my job to create presentations for Alan Greenspan. Presto: communication design. Information design. I read Tufte. I hacked the presentation software to give me more colors and better charting tools. I became adept at visual storytelling. And so on.

My second piece of advice is never (ever) make a career decision based on salary. You will become accustomed to a higher or lower salary in about two months, but on the first day of the third month you still have to love going to do your job. More than half of my career transitions have involved taking a lower salary to do something I enjoy, and I’ve always been happier and more successful than when I let money drive a decision.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a creative leader?

A. The most challenging aspect is pushing forward in the face of uncertainty. It’s hard to do because it’s risky — clients and stakeholders depend on results, and sometimes creative projects go in an unexpected direction. Another way of saying this is the hard part is to continually manage expectations.

Q. What’s your favorite aspect of being a creative leader?

A. Seeing what people come up with. In many ways, my job is to provide the space and time to let design happen — I never stop being delighted by the incredible things that my colleagues invent out of thin air, with hardly a prompt. “Let’s find a way to tell this story” becomes a comic book. “How do we socialize this idea?” becomes a game. “We should explore that opportunity” becomes a sweet prototype. The joy of creation is all around me, every day.

Beyond the Button, Q&A with Kat Li, Head of Product at Digit

Kat Li is Head of Product at Digit, a popular automated savings tool that lets customers ‘set and forget’ savings with a simple messaging-based user experience. At Digit, her team focuses on the core product experience of saving, with the goal of helping people build better financial health. Kat previously worked at Quora and Stripe, and is a graduate of Stanford University where she studied linguistics and psychology. Aside from designing behavior-changing products, her passions include recognizing and reversing patterns of oppression, indoor gardening, and DIY crafting.

Speaking at Uncharted Minds: Beyond the Button, Design for Conversational User Interfaces on May 24th. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in technology?

A. Growing up in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose), with a father who worked in tech, I had a lot of exposure to technology from an early age. I was fascinated especially by toys that incorporated some element of technology into them, whether it was a simple mechanical contraption (like dolls that flew or danced) or more complex, like tiny, tiny music players.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I’ve always been deeply fascinated by what makes people tick. During my master’s in psychology, I especially enjoyed taking neuroscience classes and behavioral change classes. These were probably some good clues that doing a job where I spend all my time figuring out why people do what they do and how to change their behaviors would be a good fit.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. Linguistics (BA), Psychology (MA)

Q. What did your parents do?

A. Mother is a teacher; father is a software engineer.

Q. Tell me about your first high tech job.

A. My first high tech jobs were actually internships at research and development centers (Bosch, NEC) where I contributed to NLP projects as a linguist. I spent a lot of my internships running experiments on real people, whether it was to see how much music choice could stress out people driving or how people perceived interactions with robots of different sizes and physiques.

Q. What were some early lessons that shaped your approach to product design?

A. Work on products that you deeply care about. It’s not enough to be aligned with the vision — you need to be genuinely excited about the product that exists today.

Learn how to differentiate between UX decisions you deeply care about and ones you just have opinions about.

Design product experiences with more than just the user in mind — design with an understanding of their interpersonal dynamics, how your product makes the user a hero in the eyes of people they care about.

Q. Tell me about why you joined Digit.

A. There were 3 reasons:

  1. I really liked and respected the CEO and CTO. Meeting them, even briefly, I knew I could work with them and learn from them.
  2. It was a great personal growth opportunity to come in as the first full-time product person and help define both what the vision was and build out a product-centric culture.
  3. The problem space resonated deeply with me. I’ve never considered myself as someone who’s good with money so I immediately understood how important it was to help people become financially healthy, in spite of themselves and their human irrationality.

Q. What do for inspiration? How do you generate ideas and stay inspired?

A. In my free time, I spend a lot of time making things. Whether it’s learning to use a sewing machine, baking complex desserts, or building gardening-related things, I like to get my hands dirty with physical objects too.

I also get a lot of inspiration from reading and go through a mix of both fiction and nonfiction to learn new things and ways of looking at the world.

But the most important way I find inspiration is through talking to people who make me think smarter and with whom a conversation will spark all kinds of new thoughts and questions.

Q. What career advice would you give to people today?

A. Be honest with yourself about what you want to be doing and then be brave in going after it. Getting into product management as a non-technical woman of color was definitely a battle but I’m so glad I didn’t give up along the way.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of developing an innovative product?

A. There are no existing paradigms or best practices for what we’re doing. We set the (current) best practices every day and thus need to refine a deep intuition and then trust in it.

Q. What’s your favorite aspect of developing an innovative product?

A. Going deep into understanding the underlying context and essential details of the people we’re building for. At Digit, we’ve done this by investing in user research from an early stage and it’s really paid off.

Q&A with Carrie Whitehead, Vice President, Design at Westfield Retail Solutions

Carrie is the Vice President of Design at Westfield Retail Solutions. She and her team are focused on transforming commerce by enhancing digital and physical shopping experiences for retailers, brands and venues. Prior to joining Westfield Retail Solutions, Carrie was the Director of Design at Fanatics, the largest online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise in North America and led Product Strategy and User Experience at Zappos Labs. When she’s not working, you can find her tangled up in a yoga pose, hiking in the Sierras, or wandering in far-off countries.

She will be speaking at Uncharted Minds: Beyond the Button, Design for Conversational User Interfaces on May 24th. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in design?

A. I was! When my grandma wasn’t busy helping run the family funeral home business (that’s a different Six Feet Under-style story), she was an illustrator and used to spend time teaching me the basics of drawing. In addition, I have an uncle who is a photographer for the Associated Press and another who used to work in the advertising division of a large department store. Being exposed to such a variety of art forms growing up definitely fueled my interest in design and why I decided to study graphic design and advertising.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I watched a fair amount of TV growing up and I always enjoyed the commercials the most. I was fascinated by the idea of how a good story could capture someone’s attention. I also love music, so I was influenced by album cover artwork and promotion posters for bands.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. My primary area of study was graphic design. I majored in fine arts with a minor in advertising. That said, I was also interested in related fields like psychology and sociology. I made an effort to take as many classes in those areas as possible.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My mom began working at Ticketmaster (now Live Nation) long before service fees were practically more expensive than the ticket itself. My dad recently retired from 30+ years in law enforcement serving in many roles including, leading the security detail for the mayor of Indianapolis, rolling out the first 9–1–1 system in Indianapolis (hello 1970s), and finally retiring after following in his father’s footsteps serving as Chief of Police of Lawrence, IN. My sister and brother-in-law are also in law enforcement.

Q. Tell me about your first design job.

A. My first design job was working as a graphic designer for the Fisher Institute of Health and Well-Being at Ball State University. Although, a great place to work, I think I was more excited about the $4.25 minimum wage I was making, than the job itself. My first career design job was at an interactive start up in Atlanta, GA where I served as a designer and developer for clients such as Fannie Mae, Coca-Cola, and Bank of America.

Q. What were some early lessons that shaped your approach to creativity and design?

A. I once worked at a start-up early that had a subpar telecommunications system. We all felt the frustration. But, one employee in particular got fed up. Documented everything that was wrong with the system and presented it to the founder. That day she was fired. The founder’s position: I hear your frustration, but don’t come to me with problems without having a proposed solution. I’ve learned throughout my career the importance of seeking creative solutions to problems. If the answer isn’t obvious, look at the problem from a different angle — turn it upside down and inside out; when you think there are no more solutions, seek another perspective.

I’ve also learned how important it is to know the problem you are solving for. I have more examples than I care to admit to of going down one path, only to discover that the customer’s core need wasn’t being met. It doesn’t matter how good the design is, a design solution needs to solve a real problem.

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Talk to your customers. Try and gain a deep understand of the end-user, and their behavior.

Q. Tell me about your role with Westfield Retail Solutions.

A. I lead a team of amazing designers who are working on new and innovative ways to help connect brands, retailers, and venues to enhance the digital and physical shopping experience. Our work ranges from creating scalable design systems, to creating new products, services and generating innovative design ideas.

Q. What do you do for inspiration? How do you generate ideas and stay inspired?

A. I love to travel. I always gain perspective by being immersed in unfamiliar cultures and I am inspired by the stories that I hear along the way. In addition to travel, I get new ideas by taking classes in just about anything, visiting local art markets and galleries, and teaching design and even yoga.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Stay curious. Get outside of your comfort zone. Expose yourself to new and unexpected experiences. Look at problems from a new perspective. Keep learning about your industry as well as concepts outside of your industry. If you go beyond the expected, it can help you become a better problem solver, inspire creativity, and make life more exciting.

Focus on building lasting relationships. A large part of what you’ll do in your career, even as a designer, will require great people skills. Listen carefully to others, be honest, and appreciate that every interaction with someone is an opportunity to grow your network.

Be sure to have fun. Success in your career can mean hard work and long hours, but it’s important to avoid burnout. Ensure you’re doing work you are passionate about, working with people you enjoy being around, and always make time for the not-so-serious stuff.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a creative leader?

A. One of the more challenging aspects of leadership is inspiring your team even when you have major setbacks. I believe in taking risks, learning from mistakes, and course-correcting when needed. However, this can sometimes feel chaotic to people on the team. I always try to communicate what success looks like and keep the team focused on that.

Q. What’s your favorite aspect of being a creative leader?

A. Sharing everything I have learned and (hopefully) watching those around me use this wisdom to grow in their own careersThat said, I couldn’t be a leader without constantly learning from those around me, which I enjoy just as much.

San Francisco Design Week: Ode to Analog With Chronicle Books, Shinola, Off the Grid & More

Uncharted Minds and Butchershop have assembled a collection of analog’s best creative minds. The revival of heritage craft is everywhere, industries like bookbinding, food trucks, the DIY marketplace, bicycles and printing, are providing people with something that’s lost in the digital: human connection and touch — that is what inspires. The panel will discuss the growing popularity of the analog approach in a digital age and the impact it is having on some of the most relevant businesses.

Get tickets to the event here >

Speakers:

Joel-Benson.jpg

Michael Carabetta, Creative Director of Chronicle Books

Michael Carabetta is creative director of Chronicle Books, a San Francisco-based publisher. His work has received recognition in the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) 50 Books/50 Covers shows, and in Graphis Books I and II. His projects have appeared in a variety of design publications–including Communication Arts, Critique, and I.D. magazines–and have received awards from the San Francisco Ad Club, New York Art Directors Club, and the Western Art Directors Club. In 2016 Michael was made a Fellow of the AIGA San Francisco Chapter for his contributions to the design community.

Mr. Carabetta attended the Paier College of Art, and received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Before joining Chronicle Books in 1991, he worked for 10 years with Landor Associates, directing corporate identity projects in their San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong offices. He is an occasional contributor to the AIGA Journal, and has guest-lectured on design at San Jose State University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and the Stanford Publishing Course. Also, he has taught design at California College of the Arts. He collects 20th-century first editions and is a member of the board of directors of the Center for the Art of Translation.

LinkedIn Profile

 

Sky Yaeger, Director of Bicycle Product Development at Shinola

Sky Yaeger has over 30 years of experience in the bike world spanning development, design and marketing for brands such as Bianchi, Spot Brand, Swobo Bikes, and Suntour Components. A pioneering female in a heavily male-dominated industry, Yaeger’s Masters in Fine Arts is evident in the aesthetic of her bike designs. She joined Shinola in 2012 to take the helm in production and design of their line of Detroit-assembled steel bikes.

SF Chronicle Profile

 

Matt Cohen, Founder, Off the Grid

Off the Grid began in June 2010 with the simple idea of grouping Street Food vendors together to create an experience that allows neighbors to connect with friends, and families to reconnect with each other. Since then, Off the Grid markets have become a Bay Area icon and quintessential San Franciscan activity, known for its unique food and cultural experiences. Off the Grid currently operate 50+ weekly public events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

LinkedIn Profile

 

Joel Benson, Founder, Dependable Letterpress

Joel discovered the satisfaction of putting ink to paper in 1987 at a book arts class at UC Santa Cruz, and felt he’d finally found his calling. An apprenticeship with the Yolla Bolly Press followed, and later a job with Julie Holcomb Printers in San Francisco, introduced him to Heidelberg presses and the practice of production printing.

Joel Benson started Dependable Letterpress in 2002 in his basement in San Francisco’s Mission District. In 2004, the shop graduated to a workspace in the Dogpatch on the Bay side of Potrero Hill. These days, we are still happy at home in the Dogpatch filling a much larger space.

LinkedIn Profile

 

Everett Katigbak, Co-Founder of the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory

Everett is a tinkerer, storyteller, and hacker of physical objects. He is currently on the design team at Stripe, where he’s helping develop the brand narrative globally. Prior to Stripe, he was the Brand Creative Manager at Pinterest, and an early Designer at Facebook.

He was the co-founder of the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory, a print studio led by a rogue band of pirates determined to challenge the status quo. He also developed the FB AIR (artists in residency) program, and was the Environmental Design Manager focused on their global campuses (most recently with Frank Gehry).

LinkedIn Profile

 

Moderator

Gregory Kennedy, Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

Gregory Kennedy is the Co-Founder of the highly regarded Uncharted Minds Thought Leadership Series. The series has featured speakers from top Silicon Valley companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, Medium, PayPal, Pandora, Slack, 500 Startups, Greylock Partners and more.

Gregory is a sought after thought leader, speaker and author whose writing has been featured on the BBC, VentureBeat, YahooFinance, Entrepreneur.com, CMO.com, and Marketing Profs. A former creative director and user interface designer, he has held marketing roles at InMobi, TapSense, and AdRoll.

Born in New York City, he now calls Berkeley, California his home.

 

Agenda:
5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Refreshments & Shinola bike demo
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Panel discussion
7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wrap up and meet the speakers

 

Jointly Produced by:

Uncharted Minds is a leading business media group that hosts networking events and conferences including the highly regarded Annual Design Gurus Summit. Founded in 2015 past speakers include design and technology luminaries from companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, Slack, Medium, Pandora, Paypal, LendUp, Allbirds Shoes and SoFi.

www.weareuncharted.com

Butchershop™ is an independent, award-winning creative agency specialized in deep discovery, brand strategy, design, content and digital experiences. We help companies change trajectories, invent new ideas, evolve and grow up. We believe every company should be thoughtful about their desired brand experience and every touch point is an opportunity to delight. Do not go to our website.

www.butchershop.co

Beyond the Button, Design for Conversational User Interfaces at Cooper

In our homes, our cars, and on our phones, conversational user interfaces have quickly moved from the fringes of design to mainstream consumer use. Apple broke new ground by loading their Siri app onto nearly every compatible Apple device. Amazon and Google responded with IoT voice activated devices like Echo and Home. Chatbots are now proliferating across a number of platforms.

Will conversation finally replace the mouse and keyboard as a primary method of computer interaction? Or is it just an ephemeral trend that will go the way of the stylus? On this panel, our experts share their thoughts on conversational user interfaces and the future of computer-human interaction design.

Get 20% Off Tickets Here >

Speakers:

Nate Clinton, Managing Director at Cooper

Nate is the Managing Director at the San Francisco office. In his role, he blends the decisiveness and collaborative skills of a product manager with the acumen of an economist to build bridges with people and organizations. Equal parts teacher and student, Nate leads initiatives in content creation, business development, and creative leadership. At Cooper, he helped United Airlines find new ways to reward loyal customers, led an effort at GE Healthcare to create a strategy for the international expansion of a key product line, and designed solutions for workplace collaboration, delivering technology to schools, and the future of the connected kitchen. Before Cooper, Nate led design and product management at BuildZoom, and was a Director of Product Management at Thomson Reuters. In his spare time, Nate plays piano, searches for amazing meals, and knows how to bake a mean english muffin.

LinkedIn Profile

Stefan Kojouharov, Founder and Editor of Chatbot's Life

Stefan Kojouharov is the Founder and Editor of Chatbot's Life. He has a background in business and psychology with a focus on Entrepreneurship. He started his first company in 2010 with $300 and grew it to over $1M within 18mo. Most recently, Stefan founded Chatbot's Life; a Bot media and consulting firm. Within 4 months, Chatbot's Life has grown to over 100k views per month and has become the premium place to learn about Bots online. Chatbot's Life has also consulted many of the top Bot companies like Swelly, Instavest, OutBrain, NearGroup and a number of enterprises.

LinkedIn Profile

Yujin Chung, Managing Director & Head of Platform, SignalFire

Yujin is Managing Director & Head of Platform at SignalFire. He joined from Andreessen Horowitz, where he was first Partner in the Market Development Group. He advised portfolio companies on go-to-market and business development strategy and helped build the Executive Briefing Center, where he developed relationships with C-level executives of Fortune 500 & Global 2000. Prior to Andreessen Horowitz, Yujin was Associate Director of Digital Strategy and Business Development at Warner Music, where he advised on digital partnerships spanning iTunes, YouTube, and evaluated key strategic investments. Prior to Warner Music Yujin was an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co. He received an MBA from the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, and graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. and MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

LinkedIn Profile

Carrie Whitehead Vice President, Design at Westfield Retail Solutions

Carrie is the Vice President of Design at Westfield Retail Solutions. She and her team are focused on transforming commerce by enhancing digital and physical shopping experiences for retailers, brands and venues. Prior to joining Westfield Retail Solutions, Carrie was the Director of Design at Fanatics, the largest online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise in North America and led Product Strategy and User Experience at Zappos Labs. When she’s not working, you can find her tangled up in a yoga pose, hiking in the Sierras, or wandering in far-off countries.

LinkedIn Profile

 

Moderator:

Gregory Kennedy - Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds (@IamGkennedy)

Gregory Kennedy is the Co-Founder of the highly regarded Uncharted Minds Thought Leadership Series. The series has featured speakers from top Silicon Valley companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, Medium, PayPal, Coinbase, BoostVC, Misfit Wearables and more. Gregory is a sought after thought leader, speaker and author whose writing has been featured on The BBC, VentureBeat, YahooFinance, Entrepreneur.com, CMO.com, and Marketing Profs. A former creative director and user interface designer, he has held marketing roles at InMobi, TapSense, and AdRoll. Born in New York City, he now calls Berkeley, California his home.

LinkedIn Profile

Agenda:

6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Networking and refreshments

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Panel discussion

7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wrap up and meet the speakers

Venue Sponsor:

450 Sansome St Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94111

Q&A with O’Reilly Author and Futuredraft Partner, Jorge Arango

Jorge Arango is an information architect with 20 years of experience designing digital products and services. He’s a partner in Futuredraft, the experience design consultancy that solves complex problems using co-creation throughout the design process. He is a co-author of “Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond” the fourth edition of O’Reilly’s celebrated “polar bear” book. Jorge has also served the global UX community as president and director of the Information Architecture Institute.

He will be speaking at the Uncharted Minds Design Gurus Summit on September 19th. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in design?

A. I didn’t know to call it “design” at the time — but yes, design was central to my sense of play. Two memories are particularly strong: my brother and I drawing screens for new video games, and building small paper models of the attractions at Disney World. In many ways I consider my career to be a continuation of these things. I suspect my 8-year-old self would like who I’ve become. I’m very lucky.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. Two experiences were particularly important for me: visiting Disney World, and being introduced to computers by my grandfather. The latter happened when I was around eight years old; there has rarely been a day since that I haven’t been immersed in digital information environments.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. Architecture

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My mom took care of us. My dad had dual careers: he was an orthodontist and a farmer. He’s since retired from dentistry, but is still quite active in food production. (I hadn’t thought of it before, but it’s interesting that both careers have to do with the mouth.)

Q. Tell me about your first design job.

A. It was a summer internship at an architecture studio before I’d graduated from university. It made me very upset to be put on (tedious!) clerical duties right off the bat when I clearly had so much more to contribute. How could they not see that?! I had no humility back then — that’s not part of the curriculum in architecture school.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about design?

A. The first lesson I learned in architecture school is still one of the most valuable: learning to look at the opportunities afforded by constraints when you push them to their limits.

Q. Tell me about your approach to design today.

A. The main way in which my approach to design has evolved is that I know understand and practice it as a collaborative activity. Again, that’s not on the curriculum in architecture school.

Q. How do you find clients for Futuredraft?

A. Primarily through personal and professional networks.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Don’t be lured by tools and techniques — look beneath the surface, to what is really happening with a design challenge. Get over your ego, your filters. You should be able to do your work with a simple pencil and a sheet of paper.

Q. Hardest part of being a designer?

A. Talking about what I do to people outside the field. We’re slowly getting to the right language to describe our work, but we’re not quite there yet.

Q. Favorite part of being a designer?

A. Working with people to help them see their worlds more clearly, and act more skillfully in them. Digital designers work on products and services that have a massive impact on the world. We have both the means and responsibility to help make things better.

10 Reasons to Attend the Second Annual Design Gurus Summit

It was standing room only at last year's Summit.

It was standing room only at last year's Summit.

You’re probably sitting at your computer reading through all the emails and materials we sent to you, trying to decide if it’s worth it to attend the Design Gurus Summit this year.

It may not be a question of cost, but about determining if this is worth your time. Attending requires you to be out of the office for a full day, plus travel time. However, at Uncharted Minds we know it’s worth it, which is why we’ve put together a top 10 list to help you decide if you and your team should attend the Second Annual Design Gurus Summit.

  1. Trevor Hubbard is speaking. He is a multi-award winning creative director and founder of Butchershop Creative in San Francisco. Their list of clients includes companies like HotelTonight, the recently public Okta, Zuora, SAP Ventures, and Levis. Trevor was a panelist at last year’s Design Gurus Summit. His genuine presentation style, sense of humor and out-of-bounds creative thinking impressed us so much that we asked him back to give a keynote this year. Be prepared to be blown away by reading the Q&A he did for Uncharted Minds last year.
  2. We secured a phenomenal space. We’ve upgraded significantly to the JCCSF’s Kanbar Hall, a world-class facility with a renowned audio visual team and desk seating for up to 200 people. The experience for both attendees and speakers will be top notch. Oh, and unlike last year, lunch will be served.
  3. More for your money. It’s a full-day event for almost the same price as last year. This year the Design Gurus Summit is a full-day of networking, talks, and panels with Silicon Valley’s most creative people. It will open your horizons and educate you on the latest trends in user experience design, branding, and creativity.
  4. An O’Reilly author, Jorge Arango is speaking. Live and direct from the series of books that you know and love. I have seen copies of O’Reilly books propping up computer monitors or lying half open on web developers’ desk throughout my entire career. We are lucky to have secured the author of the O’Reilly book titled, Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond. He is also a partner at Futuredraft in Oakland and his agency's clients include Facebook, Google, Chase and Charles Schwab.
  5. If you’re not a designer, you don’t want to fall behind on the latest design trends. Learn about conversational user interfaces, chatbots, and design for 3-D environments. While it may be obvious how this is important to consumer-focused companies who are in touch with the needs of their customers, the user experience is now an essential component to the success of B2B products, since more and more adoption now happens virally.
  6. Recruit great people for your team, startup or agency. Do you want the best and brightest? Do you want people who are motivated and talented? You will find them here. Anyone that attends our summit is clearly a driven and dedicated individual who understands that a career is a never ending journey of self-improvement. Our attendees are also polite, attractive, well groomed, articulate and fun at cocktail parties (yes, this last line is a joke).
  7. It’s cost-effective. We work hard to keep prices down and the content quality high. It’s no small challenge. Most other events of this type charge at least twice as much. We don’t. We’re dedicated to bringing this experience to our community at a price point that the average employee can afford on their own.
  8. Tickets started selling before we even announced any speakers. It’s true. They did. Why? Our audience knows the great lengths we will go to find the best speakers and put together a program that is both entertaining and educational.
  9. We will have a robot on stage. Adrian Canoso, head of product and design at Savioke, the creator of the first autonomous delivery robot called Relay. The robot will make an appearance during Adrian’s fireside chat with yours truly, Gregory Kennedy the co-founder of Uncharted Minds.
  10. Build your network and reputation with Silicon Valley’s most creative people. Networking is an essential part of growing a career. If you want more tips on how to improve your networking skills and get more from the events you attend, read our guide to networking here.
  11. Bonus! You can expect a lot more amazing speakers. We’re just getting started. Expect more announcements as we bring on great speakers.

And if you want to apply for a team discount, get in touch. The Second Annual Design Gurus Summit will take place on Tuesday, September 19 from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM in San Francisco, click here for 20% off tickets.

See you at the Summit.

Gregory Kennedy

Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

Want to get over 1,000 upvotes on Product Hunt?

Come ask one of our panelists on April 25th. They all represent applications with over a 1,000 Upvotes on Product Hunt. Find out how they did it.

We’ve gone to great lengths to find the crème de la crème of top Makers. Come and listen to them discuss the state of the startup world and take questions from the audience.

And just because we’re nice people, we are also raffling off two FREE pairs of Snapchat Spectacles at this event. You must be present to win! Join us for the networking and stay for the free swag.

Tuesday, April 25th, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Featuring (in order of Product Hunt upvotes)

Duet Display — Upvotes: 2448

It’s amazing that this app doesn’t already exist? If you want to turn your iPad into a second screen for your laptop, Duet Display is the answers. Meet the founder and CEO, Rahul Dewan. This app is one of the most popular applications on Product Hunt and has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes, Business Insider and more.

Aye Moah, Chief of Product, Boomerang — Upvotes: 2006

Yes, it’s that Chrome plugin that you and your team love. And their AI offering called respondable, is knock-your-sock-off awesome. Meet the co-founder and Chief of Product, Aye Moah who helped create one of the most popular productivity apps for Gmail and Outlook ever, enabling millions of people to email more effectively.

Mike Melanin, President, Statsbot.co — Upvotes: 1426

Funded by Slack, 500startups, and even Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt. This is the analytics bot with every feature you always wanted, but couldn’t find, until now. Meet the President of Statsbot.co Mike Melanin. His analytical bot is used by over 20,000 companies and allows teams on Slack, MS Teams, FB Workplace, and to monitor analytics from inside their favorite productivity tool. A Slack essential.

Andrew Ofstad, Co-Founder, Airtable — Upvotes: 1179

It’s a spreadsheet and project management tool, but for cool people. Seriously. You have to try it. Meet Andrew Ofstad the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airtable. Previously, he led the redesign of Google’s flagship Maps product, and before that was a product manager for Android. Andrew studied Electrical Engineering and Economics at Duke after a childhood in rural Montana.

Anna Vital, Founder, Adioma — Upvotes: 1119

Who doesn’t love inofraphics? In fact, if an event or trend is not transformed quickly into an infographic, does it even count as a trend? Meet Anna Vitalthe founder of Adioma, an online infographic maker. She started Adioma in 2016 to simplify the process of infographic creation. Before that, she has been an infographic author at Funders and Founders. Her infographic work is often featured in the media.

See you all there.

Gregory Kennedy, Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

Q&A with Andrew Ofstad, Co-Founder of Airtable, The All-In-One Collaboration Platform

Andrew Ofstad is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airtable. Previously, he led the redesign of Google’s flagship Maps product, and before that was a product manager for Android. Andrew studied Electrical Engineering and Economics at Duke after a childhood in rural Montana.

He will be speaking at 1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers on Tuesday, April 25th @6 pm. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in entrepreneurship?

A. I wouldn’t say I was interested in “entrepreneurship” per se. I did always know that I wanted to build cool things and have some amount of freedom to be imaginative, but I didn’t really put much thought into the type of career that would make this a reality. So entrepreneurship was more of a means to that end.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I was really into video games in high school. I liked playing them, but I was also curious about how they worked. It seemed pretty magical to me that you could build these virtual environments that were hyper realistic and interactive. I was inspired to learn more and picked up some programming, and eventually started writing my own little games and game engines. Over time it evolved into a more general interest in computers and software.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I majored in Electrical Engineering and Economics. As I mentioned before, I learned a bit of programming and CS in high school, and was curious about how things worked at a lower level. I also thought that I might not want to sit in front of a computer all day, and had this notion that electrical engineering would be more “hands on”. I later realized that you’re going to spend your working life in front of a computer regardless of what you do, and I really don’t mind that, and it’s a lot easier and cheaper and faster to build things in software. So I ended up taking more CS classes towards the end of college. I’m not really sure why I did Economics, I think at that point I decided that “business” could be interesting and that seemed like the most relevant major for that.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My dad is an optometrist and my Mom was a teacher. My Mom stopped teaching when she had kids and was able to spend a lot of time with us. My Dad spent most of his time painting and woodworking outside of work. I had a pretty creative and adventurous childhood in the mountains of Montana.

Q. Tell me about your first job.

A. My first job after college was at Accenture, which is a systems integration consulting firm. I worked in their R&D lab as a developer. Our job was to build prototypes that were then used to pitch clients. The point was to show clients that we were on the cutting edge, so it was kind of cool in the sense that our prototypes were always built with the latest technologies. It was a nice way to get exposed to a lot of new things early in my career, but ultimately I decided I wanted to work for a real product company and build something of lasting value.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about business?

A. It’s really hard to focus. There’s a huge sense of urgency, and you feel like you should be trying everything, and there are a million distractions constantly popping up. The hard part is figuring out what the most important thing is at any given point, and then making sure that you’re executing on that.

Q. How have you funded Airtable? How did you first attract investors?

A. We started out with a seed round after self-funding and working on a prototype for about 6 months. It definitely helped to have a really polished prototype that investors could actually play around with and get excited about. My co-founder knew a number of seed investors from his previous company, which he had sold to Salesforce, so we started with a few of those. It then cascaded from there, with one investor introducing us to another, and at the end we were able to raise $3M in seed funding. Later on, we raised a Series A from CRV, bringing our total funding to $10M.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. I think the most important thing for any career is to keep learning. This is especially true in tech. If you’re trying to build a company or move your way up a career ladder, you’re going to have to understand and solve new problems in new disciplines. I think the problem for a lot of people is that they get intimidated by something new that they’re not already good at, or they label themselves as a engineer or designer or marketer, and are afraid to work outside of that domain. But the best people, and the ones that can take more responsibility for larger swaths of a company and/or start a company in the future, are those that can cross those boundaries and have some operating knowledge of all of them. So it’s important to not be afraid to dive into things outside of your comfort zone, and stay interested and active in learning as you progress.

Q. Hardest part of being a entrepreneur?

A. You have to do a bit of everything, and it can be hard to juggle everything at once. There’s a lot of context switching, which can be hard.

Q. Favorite part of being a entrepreneur?

A. Working on a product that you love with people who you like working with. It’s also really gratifying to understand a product on a bunch of different levels, and to look back and see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned.

Q&A with Aye Moah, Chief of Product of Boomerang, A Popular Email Productivity Tool

Aye Moah is Co-founder and Chief of Product at Boomerang. Boomerang is the most popular productivity app for Gmail and Outlook, enabling millions of people to email more effectively with artificial intelligence. Boomerang’s Respondable is the first real-time AI assistant that improves your writing based on an effectiveness prediction. Moah was born and raised in Burma. She graduated from MIT in 2005 with a degree in Computer Science.

She will be speaking at 1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers on Tuesday, April 25th @6 pm. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in entrepreneurship?

A. Yes and no. Both my grandmother and my mother started their own businesses. My parents ran the business my mother started when I was growing up. It wasn’t like I had always dreamt to be an entrepreneur and couldn’t wait to become one. It was more that I just assumed that’s what was normal.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. I believe I was in the 7th or 8th grade when my high school started a programming class as an after-school experimental activity. The class used old Intel 386 computers and we learned fundamentals of programming in BASIC. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the math teacher who initiated and taught that class. She’s the first influencer who inspired me to understand the delight and joy of programming.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. Computer Science

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My parents ran their own wholesale business, importing construction materials back in Burma.

Q. Tell me about your first job.

A. My first job title was Associate of Technology at Sapient, an IT consulting firm in Cambridge. I got to learn a lot about various roles within a software development team and I appreciated the chance to work in a variety of industries with different clients. That job showed me that I really enjoy working on UX and product design. I also learned that my true passion is in delivering products that users love and need.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about business?

A. The early lessons I learned about business came from being around my parents while they ran their business together. The best one is to always deliver what you promise to your customers. Once you build the trust with your customers, you will have them for life.

Q. How have you funded Boomerang? How did you first attract investors?

A. We only raised a small seed round back in 2011 from some angel investors and a couple of seed funds like 500 Startups and K9 Ventures.

The rest of our growth and funding came from our own revenue. It’s equivalent to raising a series B every year except we don’t have to give up any equity. We call it Series R — for Revenue. I believe the best kind of funding is real revenue from customers and it’s the best validation for a product’s value.

We have a very interesting story on how we approached our first investor, Dave McClure. It involved giving him a ride to the mechanic and that was before the time of ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Find your superpower and focus on being the best at it. In the earlier part of your career, it’s great to branch out and do a breadth first search to see what you are really passionate about and what you’re great at. Once you find it, stop trying to be good at a dozen things. Work hard on what you love until you get to the top 1% of what you’re great at.

Q. Hardest part of being a entrepreneur?

A. It’s really hard to tell what you need to be focused on and there isn’t an easy way to know if you are working on the right things.

Q. Favorite part of being a entrepreneur?

A. The ability to shape a company culture and build the kind of company I would want to work for myself. I love that we can use our profits to do things like build schools for children who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance for an education.

Q&A with Rahul Dewan, Founder & CEO of Duet Display, Use Your iPad as a Second Display for Your Mac or PC

Rahul Dewan is the founder of Duet Display, software that lets you use your iPad as a second display for your Mac or PC. It is in the top 50 paid iPad apps in the world, and has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes, Business Insider and more. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Rahul held a software engineering role at Apple and attended Stanford University and Georgia Tech.

He will be speaking at 1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers on Tuesday, April 25th @6 pm. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in entrepreneurship?

A. Absolutely. Since I was twelve, I have been developing ideas, products and side businesses. However, at my core, I consider myself an engineer. I love building technology and solving challenging problems more than anything else. For me, being an entrepreneur is the intersection of those two paths.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. The great thing about being an engineer is the power to bring your ideas to life. If you have that spark as a kid, it’s easy to learn and just build things yourself. So I bought a book and learned to code. It’s incredible how many resources there were back then, and there are even more now, so I’m not surprised in how many kids want to be engineers now.

Q. What did you study in college?

A. By the time I was in college, I had taught myself how to code. So I went into computer engineering, which is a blend of software and hardware. I think it’s important to learn something in college that you’re interested in and would be difficult to learn on your own. I was lucky enough to have access to world renown professors and state of the art hardware, and it gave me a good background for my what I do now.

Q. What did your parents do?

A. They both worked in finance, which provided me the opportunity to learn about business. This was incredibly useful when I had to run one for myself.

Q. Tell me about your first job.

A. My first job was luckily at Apple where I learned the invaluable startup lesson of how important it is to focus and do few things, but do them extraordinarily well.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about business?

A. To really question trends and analogies people use when describing a business, idea, or concept. Many people describe their company as ‘Uber for x,’ ‘Netflix for y,’ or adopt strategies because another successful company advocates them. I understand why people tend to, as those analogies can seem like a great shortcut to pitch complex concepts. But most of the time there is an underlying reason it doesn’t apply.

Q. How have you funded Duet Display? How did you first attract investors?

A. Duet has intentionally taken no outside investment. We’ve had a few options, but haven’t found a great fit. Sometimes it’s more important to find the right investor than the right valuation, and we just haven’t come across that yet.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. There’s no right or wrong answer for what you want to do. Learn what you stand for, what is important to you, and what will make you happy. Then go after that.

Q. Hardest part of being a entrepreneur?

A. There is a lot of responsibility in leading a company. I’ve met plenty of people who want to be a business owner and simply delegate the important parts of a business. As an entrepreneur, and as a leader, everything should be your responsibility. Mistakes are always your fault, and it is always your job to fix it.

Q. Favorite part of being a entrepreneur?

A. Though I love building things, you can do that inside a large company. Being an entrepreneur may sometimes make that more difficult and resource constrained. However, I make that trade-off because as an entrepreneur I can continuously experiment and learn, perhaps at a rate unmatched to any other opportunity.

Q&A with Anna Vital, Founder of Adioma, A Tool to Automate Infographic Development

Anna Vital is the founder of Adioma, an online infographic maker. As an information designer, she creates visualizations using algorithmic design to visualize the lives of companies and founders. She started Adioma in 2016 to simplify the process of infographic creation. Before that, she has been an infographic author at Funders and Founders. Her infographic work is often featured in the media. She holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings and a B.A. in Linguistics from Brigham Young University.

She will be speaking at 1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers on Tuesday, April 25th @ 6 pm. Click here to get 20% off tickets to the event.

 

Q. When you were growing up, were you always interested in entrepreneurship?

A. Yes, but I was not sure what exactly being an entrepreneur meant. I definitely felt like entrepreneurship is something mysterious, especially the part of starting something from nothing.

Q. What were some early influences on your career choice?

A. Very early on, at about age six, I think, my parents left me in charge of selling corn at a bus stop. This was back in Ukraine. I was a shy kid, so was very surprised to that people came up and didn’t think much about me being a kid and bought my corn and were grateful that I was out there selling something they could eat on the way to work. That experience showed me that you don’t need much to start. Just showing up and offering something of value already makes you an entrepreneur.

 

Q. What did you study in college?

A. I studied linguistics and Chinese. I got good advice about what I should study in college. I think it was a college counselor who advised me to just study whatever I like. I had no idea how linguistics would apply to anything I’d do later on. And I couldn’t explain why I liked it. I just did. But now that we are building a visual language inside Adioma, it recently started making sense why I liked it. And the icon language inside Adioma is build following some of the principles behind Chinese characters.

 

Q. What did your parents do?

A. My parents did a lot of different businesses from brick selling to running a restaurant. Growing up, I’d help my father sell bricks over the phone for a small commission.

 

Q. Tell me about your first job.

A. Other than internships in college, I don’t think I ever had an actual job. Right after graduating from law school, I started a startup demo show business, then an infographic agency, and then Adioma.

 

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about business?

A. That the best way for me to learn about business is by actually doing a business. Every business is different and learning about it at a distance never seemed to work. I like getting involved right away, even if I don’t have an exact plan and just assume that most things will go wrong and I’ll figure out how to fix them later.

 

Q. How have you funded Adioma? How did you first attract investors?

A. Adioma is funded from revenue right now and will be for a while. The first prototype was funded from my previous business.

 

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

A. Honestly, I wish I sought out less advice and just tried more things myself early on. So my advice is to take all advice with a grain of salt and just start something, no matter how small.

 

Q. Hardest part of being a entrepreneur?

A. The hardest thing is living with the possibility that at any point things can go south. And only you and your team can fix them.

 

Q. Favorite part of being a entrepreneur?

A. Seeing that I can actually solve a real problem for other people. I’ve been surprised that some people take the time to write and thank me even though they are paying for the service.

1,000 Upvotes: Meet Top Product Hunt Makers + Snapchat Spectacles Giveaway

Meet Top Product Hunt Makers

Tue, April 25, 2017, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM PDT @ WeWork SOMA

For those who don't know, Product Hunt is the new community site where all the cool kids discover clever new applications, websites, plugins, startups and stay up-to-date on the latest tech trends. We've assembled a panel of top Makers from the platform whose apps have received over 1,000 upvotes, making them Product Hunt royalty.

Come and listen to our panel of Makers present their applications, discuss the state of the startup world and take questions from the audience. And just because we're nice people, we are raffling off two FREE pairs of Snapchat Spectacles at this event. You must be present to win! Join us.

Get 20% off tickets here >

Find Networking Difficult? Tips to Get the Most From Our Events

Networking. Many find it challenging.

However, there are countless articles, guides, and research that espouse its value. And we all know that having a great network will make it easier to get a job, hire talented people and get advice on solving business problems.

But, how do you build a great network? How do you do it efficiently and effectively? One evening at a sponsored cocktail party, unprepared, can be disheartening. Don't despair. Networking is a skill that can be developed. With a bit of practice and a few pointers, anyone can become a networking ace.

Here are my expert tips for navigating the complex social fabric of business networking events.

Seek Out High-Quality Events
Paid events attract more engaged attendees. I recommend avoiding free events. They appeal to people who may be less interested in serious business networking and more interested in free food, drinks, or because it's simply something to do.

But, you don't have to break the bank and start attending expensive events. There are a lot of high-quality events in the $25 to $100 dollar range. And most employers will let you expense the ticket. Large conferences usually offer an expo pass in that price range, that will let you roam the trade show floor. I also recommend focusing on events with a topic that's relevant to your industry. It's less likely that you will make a valuable connection at a general business networking event.

Come Prepared and Have a Plan
Have a goal in mind and practice your pitch in advance. Otherwise, you will waste valuable time engaging in polite small talk with people who can't help you. Here is a straightforward example, "I am interested in networking with companies that currently have an opening in event marketing." Or if you want to be more subtle, "I am in marketing and want to network with other marketing professionals." When you state your goal up front in the conversation, you may be surprised how quickly people will help you. If they are not in your target, almost everyone will offer to introduce you to someone they know that meets your criteria.

In order to close the conversation many people still like to hand out business cards. I think that's inefficient. When I meet someone I want to connect with, I use my mobile phone to send them an email from my account or connect on LinkedIn in the moment. Then I can follow up with them the next day and meet up for a coffee or set up a call.

Get There Early and Talk to Lots of People
The people who arrive early are motivated to network. Also, it will be easier to strike up a conversation with the first few people who arrive, since they won't be engaged in a conversation already. Chat for only five to ten minutes and then move on. Get their email or card and offer to follow up over email and continue the conversation. Remember, this is work and you have a goal, building your network.

I also recommend that people attend networking events on their own. It will force you to talk with new people. Even if you're a power networker, having a friend will distract you from making connections with new people. If you do go with colleagues, make a plan to split up. Circulate around the room and then synch halfway through the event to compare notes.

Be Positive and Keep an Open Mind
Sometimes, things just won't go your way. It happens. When I just can't seem to meet the type of people that I want to connect with, I leave right away. It's a sign that the event is just not the right one for you. Do not let this get you down. Expanding your network means trying new things. Sometimes those experiments don't work. This is to be expected.

Stay positive and keep looking for events that are a good fit. Once you find a meetup, event series or conference that works, get involved. You can volunteer, sponsor or even pitch yourself as a speaker. Most event organizers are looking for enthusiastic supporters to help.

Good luck networking.

Gregory Kennedy
President and Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

Women CEOs in Silicon Valley Panel: Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

By: Kathie Green, Co-Founder, Uncharted Minds

Uncharted Minds’ sold-out panel at IDEO, featuring five all-star women CEOs, was truly inspiring. Shaherose Charania, founder of Women 2.0, my personal friend, and hero to many moderated the conversation. The panel covered topics including how successful CEOs manage their careers, get funding, and make the leap from early-stage startup founder to growth CEO.

Key takeaways for aspiring entrepreneurs include:

  • Winning venture capital investment is incredibly exciting and comes with great responsibility. If your intention in starting a company is to be your own boss, know that instead of just one boss, you will now have many bosses when you start having to answer to investors.
  • Do your homework before pitching. Target investors who are missing a product like yours in their portfolio, rather than those who have already invested in your space.
  • Being a founder is all about selling the vision, the dream, and living in the future. But, being a CEO requires living in the now. You will have to take full control of company finances and operations, and have the emotional intelligence needed to counsel and coach employees.
  • Consider the personal costs of starting and running a company. Being an employee has its advantages, including a steady paycheck and a clearly defined scope of responsibilities. Being a CEO is an endeavor above and beyond a full-time job. The responsibilities are immense.

It was a privilege to be able to showcase these phenomenal speakers. We also want to thank our partners at IDEO for being incredible hosts. And of course, a big thank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday.

Erica Rogers, President and CEO, Silk Road Medical

Erica Rogers, President and CEO, Silk Road Medical

Melody McCloskey, Co-Founder and CEO, StyleSeat

Melody McCloskey, Co-Founder and CEO, StyleSeat

Amanda Kahlow, Founder & CEO, 6sense

Amanda Kahlow, Founder & CEO, 6sense

Monisha Perkash, CEO and Co-founder, Lumo Bodytech

Monisha Perkash, CEO and Co-founder, Lumo Bodytech

Kate Kendall, Founder and CEO at CloudPeeps

Kate Kendall, Founder and CEO at CloudPeeps

Moderator: Shaherose Charania, Product Strategist, 23 Design / Advisor, Republic / Co-Founder, Women 2.0

Moderator: Shaherose Charania, Product Strategist, 23 Design / Advisor, Republic / Co-Founder, Women 2.0

Gregory Kennedy, Uncharted Minds, Co-Founder speaking to a packed house at IDEO's office on Pier 28

Gregory Kennedy, Uncharted Minds, Co-Founder speaking to a packed house at IDEO's office on Pier 28