When we reported on the importance of great design to the success of tech startups recently, the lack of many designers co-founding startups was seen as a problem. The Designer Fund is looking to help support that philosophy.
The Designer Fund is a network of angel investors, offering seed investment in startups with designer-founders. The idea is that design needs to be at the core of tech products. As a release from the fund today says, “No longer can design just be an outsourced add on, limited to occasionally putting ‘lipstick on a pig,’ tech moves so fast that it’s a continuous process of iteration for designers to prioritize solving the right strategic problems, contexts and use cases for their company to prosper.”
Beyond financial backing, the fund offers mentorship and access to the network of experienced designers with backgrounds in companies such as YouTube, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Today the Designer Fund has announced investments in ten startups with products that range from an augmented reality toy, to a tool that allows campaigners to harness online content about their cause.
The full ten are:
- Tiny Review, an image and review sharing app for iOS from Melissa Miranda, a former IDEO designer.
- Launchpad Toys, a Ycombinator graduate startup offering Toontastic, an iPad app that lets children create animated stories.
- The work of Khoi Vinh, a former New York Times designer who has created collaborative collage app, Mixel.
- From designer-founder Aaron Perry Zucker, The Creative Action Network is due for launch in January. This is a tool to help organizations and campaigns harness cause-based content more effectively.
- Superflux, from Anab Jain, is developing a prototype toy for augmenting reality in digital and physical spaces using sensors.
- 500 Startups participant WeddingLovely, from designer Tracy Osborn, is working on making weddings easier to organize.
- Social blogging tool Teethie comes from Standford Product Design graduate Nina Khosla.
- Designer and former basketball player Maurice Woods is launching Convozine, a social magazine service.
- Cooking-focused startup CultureKitchenSF is founded by Stanford Product Design graduates and 500 Startups participants Jennifer Lopez and Abby Sturges.
- Storytree, from IDEO designer and alumni of the Stanford Graduate Design Program Matt Sullivan, is a service that lets families capture stories about their histories.