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.”
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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.