Who we are
The Designer Fund is an angel fund of designers. Our community gives angel funding, mentorship, and connections to entrepreneurial designers. Our mission is to invest in designers who create businesses with positive social impact. We accept applications and referrals from talented designers and match them with resources to succeed at any stage of their development, ranging from accelerator graduates to later stage companies post Series A financing. We also organize educational events, like the Designer Fair and Women in Design, and content such as the Designer Founders book and infographic to distribute for public good and design students worldwide.
Why we exist
We believe that not enough designers are taking the path of entrepreneurship and creating positive social impact at scale with technology. In our research we’ve found systemic issues including a lack of entrepreneurial design education, successful peers who serve as role models and capital resources. We also believe that companies can be more successful if design, engineering and business talent collaborate from the beginning. Teams with a critical mass of these skills can ship higher quality products, craft better user experiences and communicate a brand that resonates more with consumers. Designers who are part of the founding team can make the most impact by championing the user experience, building an exceptional design team and sustaining a culture of design.
Who we are looking for
Designers whose success in business generates meaningful impact (positive social impact at scale), particularly through the use of new IT experiences. Every six months we look to invest in a balanced mix of designers across three stages: prototype, alpha and beta. We’re focusing on designer founders primarily based in Silicon Valley but we’re open to those located in other major cities and startup hubs.
Our founders, mentors and angels range from early stage designers at YouTube, Facebook, Google, and Twitter to designers at IDEO, Cooper, Jump Associates, Frog and Method to current designers at startups like Path and Flipboard. We’re putting our money and attention where our mouth is to help designers make startups that people actually want to use.
We work with designer founders who have a great team, product and mission, ranging from accelerator graduates to seed stage and Series A backed startups.
Our partners include top tier investors such as Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, North Bridge Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, 500 Startups, KKLD, Venture51 and Quest Venture Partners.
How it works
- Intro: We accept applications and referrals from the Designer Fund community. We’re currently focusing on working with designers who are part of the founding or core team of a startup. We’re interested in products that intentionally create positive social impact using technology that can scale worldwide.
- Connect: We connect selected designers with mentors, angels and partners to see if there’s a fit. Although we’re primarily based in Silicon Valley, we’re open to considering designers located in major cities and startup hubs where we have community members.
- Offer: We make different investment offers to designers depending on their startup stage. Offers range from pure mentorship, non-equity grants at a minimum of $5k, angel funding at a minimum of $5k for .5% equity, to co-investments with our partners at approximately $50k – $100k+ for 5% – 10% equity on average or according to a startup’s existing terms. Generally every six months we look to invest in a balanced mix of designers whose company stage ranges from accelerator graduates to Series A.
- Build: As designers build their companies, we continue to give angel funding, mentorship and connections to our network. We also host educational events like the Designer Fair and informal gatherings for designers to support each other in our community.
- Give Back: The Designer Fund community fosters a positive virtuous cycle of successful designers giving back to the next generation of entrepreneurial designers. Designers often invite their mentors to become formal advisors for around .5% equity and give back time, money and/or equity to the Designer Fund to reinvest in the next generation of entrepreneurial designers.
How to get involved
Entrepreneurial designers seeking investment can apply during our application periods and/or be referred by members of our community.
Designers interested in contributing through mentorship and/or angel funding can be introduced by members of the Designer Fund community.
Potential partners and press should contact Enrique Allen or Ben Blumenfeld (hello at designerfund.com).