Earlier this week 500 Startups announced the creation of The d.fund, a designer-centric fund with the aim of increasing the number of startups co-founded by people who have design experience. As quite a few startups like Tumblr, YouTube, Android and Flickr have achieved success because of their designer founders, d.fund founder and 500 Startups designer Enrique Allen wants to foster a community that replicates their success.
Design is valued more right now than it ever has been, hence the Quora question “Why is there such a stunningly short supply of designers in Silicon Valley right now?” Indeed, Allen tells me that the new fund has one goal, “How do we address this problem that everyone and their momma wants a designer, and there’s none to be had?”
Well The d.fund’s solution is to ask 50 or so rockstar mentors in the field, like YouTube’s Christina Brodbeck, Facebook’s Ben Blumenfeld and Google’s Chris Messina to become mentors and/or contribute a minimum of 50K to the pool. When the fund hits 50 investors, it can then fund 50 design centered startups in return.
When asked whether the fund was looking specifically for a UX, UI, or just plain graphic designer founders, Allen told me he was looking for “T-shaped people” a.k.a people with in-depth experience in one area but a broad outlook and a wide range of experiences.
“It’s going to take a different breed, a new generation of designers that not only have visual ability, interaction ability, information architecture and everthing from user research and discovery to design ethnography to really foster consumer innovation,” Allen said.
More in the interview, above.
500 Startups is an early-stage seed fund and incubator program located in Mountain View, CA. They invest primarily in consumer & SMB internet startups, and related web infrastructure services. Their initial investment size is typically $25K-$250K. Selected areas of interest include financial services & e-commerce, search/social/mobile platforms, personal & business productivity, education & language, family & healthcare and web infrastructure.