Category: design

Hiring for Design Part 5: Scaling your Design Team

This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

By Andy BuddDesigner and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

As startups raise funding and grow their customer base, the demands placed on the engineering teams tend to scale quite rapidly. This is one of the reasons you need a solid CTO from the onset. Not only to get your product off the ground, but also to manage the complexity that comes from hiring and managing a large number of engineers. 

On the design side of things, the received wisdom is that you need one designer to service five or six engineers. As such, design tends to scale slightly later than engineering and at a slower rate. That being said, there are plenty of startups out there with a 20-person engineering team, just barely getting by on two or three designers. So once companies have scaled their engineering teams, their attention generally turns to their design and product functions.

One of the challenges of hiring designers is that there are a lot fewer of them out there, so good designers are much harder to find. And it’s especially the case if you’re not that well connected in the design space. This is one reason why your first design hire is key

Your Founding Design is your Best Hiring Asset

A good founding designer will have strong connections within the design community, so when it comes time to scale, they’ll already have a line of potential talent. These may be people they already know and have worked with, or (Read more...)

Hiring for Design Part 3: Interviewing Your First Designer

This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

By Andy BuddDesigner and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

So far in this series we’ve discussed why a good designer should be one of your first hires, and how to go about sourcing potential candidates. In this article we’re going to be looking at how to judge which applicants might be a good fit.  The most logical place to start is with the application itself.

What Does Their CV Say About Them?

A typical application includes a cover letter explaining why the applicant thinks they’re suitable for the role, a link to a portfolio outlining their work, and some sort of CV. When hiring designers, the portfolio tends to be the main point of focus, followed by the cover letter. CVs tend to be used as a tool to whittle down a large number of candidates into a more manageable pool. As such most hiring managers tend to give them a cursory glance at best, in order to spot trends and identify red flags. However there are some things I look out for.

When it comes to designers CVs I’m perfectly happy with something minimal and text based. However, if the applicant has decided to “design” their CV, I’m looking for a clean layout with good information hierarchy and a readable font. There have been a few occasions where a CV was so well designed that it immediately went on the top of the “Interested” pile, but that’s kind of rare. It’s more common to come across badly (Read more...)

Hiring for Design Part 1: Why A Good Designer Should be One of Your First Hires

This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

By Andy Budd, Designer and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

For early stage start-ups, your first design hire is a super critical role. Not least because the product decisions you make at this stage will have long lasting effects which can be difficult to unpick later. So hiring somebody who has experience designing successful products is a sensible early investment. 

How Designers Drive Acquisition

On a very basic level, designers are responsible for shaping the part of your product that customers see and interact with. As such they’ll be responsible for communicating what the product is, what it does and why your customers should care. If your visitors understand the value proposition there’s a good chance they’ll take your new product for a spin. If they don’t, getting folks to sign up becomes an uphill struggle.  

Customer acquisition is probably the biggest challenge for early start-ups and can be the difference between raising that next round of funding or hitting a dead end. To get over this hump, founders will often spend a tonne of money driving traffic to a poorly performing site. While this brute force approach can work, it has a really negative effect on your cost of acquisition. It’s worth noting that cost of acquisition is something potential funders will be looking at closely, so making sure your marketing site is as effective as possible should be a no brainer. 

As your approach to customer acquisition matures you’ll start doing some sort of funnel analysis. Examining (Read more...)

Do I need a Product Manager? (and when)

This post is by Carlos Eduardo Espinal from Seedcamp

This blog post was written in collaboration between Devin HuntDavid Mytton, and the fearless editing of Nelson Casata. It was originally published on Medium.

I recently caught up with a long time friend, co-founder of Lyst, and Venture Partner at Seedcamp Devin Hunt about his view on the role of Product Manager. What followed was a fun deep dive into the evolving nature of the role, but also an exploration into its relative infancy in terms of what best practices are, and why this makes it challenging for founders looking to hire a PM to know what to look for. This blog post is a summarised and synthesised version of our chat, but hopefully it helps you answer the following questions:

  • What is a product manager?
  • Where can I meet one?
  • When should I hire one?

First, let’s start by defining the role of a Product Manager (PM). A PM is more than just one thing, it’s a role that encompasses several disciplines. To make it simple, I’ve broken out those disciplines into four categories: Product Leadership, Management, Design, and Sales.

Leadership, in the context of being a Product Manager, means making the critical decisions based on your team’s research and the product vision set out by the founder. In our chat, Devin shared that there are two unique streams in building product: developing the product vision, and executing on it, which he calls product operations. Whereas a founder might be hyper critical in setting (Read more...)

The pure hell of managing your JPEGs

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris were joined by none other than TechCrunch’s own Mary Ann Azevedo, in her first-ever appearance on the show. She’s pretty much the best person and we’re stoked to have her on the pod.

And it was good that Mary Ann was on the show this week as she wrote about half the dang site. Which meant that we got to include all sorts of her work in the rundown. Here’s the agenda:

Rocketium raises $3.2M to help creative teams create massive marketing campaigns

In between A/B testing, customizing targeted ads and formatting for different digital platforms, some design teams are tasked with campaigns that include thousands of images, videos and other visual content. Based in Bangalore, Rocketium automates much of the process, allowing teams to scale-up campaigns while reducing their workload. The company announced it has raised $3.2 million led by Emergent Ventures to launch in the United States and expand in other markets.

Rocketium’s clients include Urban Company, CasaOne, BigBasket, and Meesho. It says visuals made on its platform are seen by 100 million end users. Its latest funding brings Rocketium’s total raised so far to $4.2 million, including a $1 million seed round from Blume Ventures and 1Crowd.

Rocketium’s platform is currently invite-only and it plans to open self-service usage and purchases in 2022, along with more integrations with e-commerce and advertising platforms (its current integrations include Salesforce, Mailchimp, YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia and Hubspot).

To use Rocketium, design teams create a core set of templates in Photoshop or After Effects and import them to the platform. Then Rocketium customizes ads for different scenarios. For example, if a retailer is running a targeted campaign with free shipping in certain areas, they enter that information into a spreadsheet and Rocketium automatically updates the text in the templates. Then ads and videos are formatted for different platforms, like banners for web advertising or square format for Instagram.

Rocketium's size adaptation tool

Rocketium’s size adaptation tool

One of Rocketium’s clients, fitness app, uses it to run about (Read more...)

Product Summit 2021

This post is by Precious Oyelade from Seedcamp

Every year at Seedcamp we bring together leaders in technology and product from across our community and the wider tech ecosystem. For the third year in a row, we invited the Seedcamp Nation to explore the latest tech and product frameworks virtually via Hopin, compered by our very own Venture Partner, Devin Hunt and Community Manager Precious Oyelade.  Over three afternoons from 25-27th May we had over 140 guests tuning in from over 25 countries to hear from a specially selected speaker line-up. Their insights challenged our community’s approach to key areas for startup success such as hiring, decision making and customer-centricity. Check out our Talent Manager Alex Lewis’ 10 Talent & People Takeaways from the Summit.

Special thanks to all our speakers who played a part in making Product Summit 2021 a success: Andy Budd, Kate Leto, Sharon Anne Kean (Wise), Ben Sauer, Louis Majanja (Ajua), Andy Ayim, Tyler Christie, Bikram Bose (Automata), Valerio Magliulo and Karin Nielsen. Huge thanks to all of our guests for tuning in – we trust new ideas were inspired, and we’re pleased to share some of these insights with the wider community too.

Check out the full Product Summit playlist below, and let us know what you think. You can dive deeper into the agenda and find the decks here. Next year we’ll go hybrid!

Product Summit 2021 Playlist

Day 1

Andy Budd – The 5 Dysfunctions of a Design Team
Kate Leto – Hiring Product Managers: Using Product EQ to go beyond (Read more...)

Talent and People Takeaway’s: Seedcamp Product Summit 2021

This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

Last month, we had our annual Seedcamp Product Summit. We were very lucky to be joined by some incredibly insightful speakers from across the product and design ecosystem, including Andy Budd, Kate Leto and Sharon Kean. One discussion topic that kept coming up was how to hire and retain talent — and that makes sense. The people you interview, hire, and ultimately build your company with determine your product’s success. Here are the ten key points I took away from listening to some of our speakers about Talent and People.

1. Invest in the best designers possible, as early as possible

Design often seems to take a back seat in a company’s list of priorities, lagging behind perhaps more tangible fields like engineering. This causes a bottleneck even before founders look to address it. Andy Budd, founder at Clearleft, noticed that even when startups do hire a designer, most decide to hire very junior or grossly under-powered people. Who you hire and when you hired them can send a big message about how you value design, so invest early.

2. Be aware of burnout in team leadership

Especially post-fundraising where significant scale is going to occur, your Team Lead will no doubt spend a huge amount of time hiring talent. If this individual is an inexperienced leader or new to the startup world, it can be a catalyst to what Andy describes as “the new leader death spiral”, during which increased attention to hiring leads to wailing employee satisfaction due (Read more...)

On research, experiments, and the beginner’s mind

This post is by Giff Constable from

I find myself thinking about this morning about sources of learning, and how and where one challenges oneself to learn. Are you satisfied with your expertise in your domain, or are you constantly pushing to improve? As I wrote the other week, are you looking outside of your domain?

I watched an experienced market researcher do a customer interview the other day and was surprised to see them ask speculative questions such as, “what do you think of the potential product?” and “if you bought this product, what would you expect you would be getting?” I’ve long since consigned speculative questions to the dustbin, as I have with focus groups — both for the same reason: believability.

This person, who was very smart and experienced, said afterwards that in the hands of a skilled researcher, you can get a lot of valuable information. I’m sure that’s true, and this was indeed a master craftsperson.

So I asked myself, “why is this still bugging me?” And I realized that the reason why I no longer ask speculative questions is two-fold: 1) I find it requires too much work to parse out the believable from the non-believable in what you learn; and 2) I have a better alternative in the form of experiments.

I use interviews (and I think other ethnographic methods apply as well) to dig into people’s lived experiences and to try to uncover their goals, motivations and emotions. I use experiments if I want to see what people will (Read more...)