Announcing Bridge 4

Our Community Grows Stronger

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Connecting experienced designers with top startups and community

Applications for Bridge 4 are open
Apply early By Oct. 5

Apply Now

Inside Bridge

Stories, photos and interviews from Bridge 2

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Day in the Life with Rasmus Andersson

See what it’s like to be a designer at Dropbox

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How Bridge Works

Apply

Choose a top startup to join full-time in the SF Bay Area

Impact

Design products that affect millions of people worldwide

Grow

Join a community of great designers through workshops and talks

The Startups

We've hand picked startups in the San Francisco Bay Area who have a great mission, product and culture that truly values design. As designers ourselves, we've vetted each opportunity to make sure it's a place we'd want to work too.

zendeskbridgelogo
logo_prismatic
Flipboard_Logo_2014_90
logo_coursera
logo_gumroad
logo_pinterest
logo_asana
Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 6.19.32 PM
Pocket_Logo_Small
expa_logo_list
logo_remind
logo_wealthfront
operator_logo_list
square-logo-black
Timeful_logo_Large_color
FitbitR-Logo
logo_jelly
logo_altschool_small
Dropbox
logo_storehouse

Still have questions?

About Bridge

What is Bridge?

Bridge is a professional development program that connects experienced designers with top startups and our community in San Francisco. Bridge designers are paid and receive benefits to work full-time at their company of choice. Once a week, they participate in workshops and talks with a community of great designers to accelerate their career. Apply early by October 5th or before applications close October 26th here –http://app.designerfund.com/bridge.

View our Bridge 4 announcement post to learn more here.

How long does it last?

During Bridge you work full-time at one of our startup partners. Most Bridge designers join their company as long-term employees and some choose short-term contracts for more flexibility.

Bridge 4 events, including workshops and talks, will run approximately Mid-January to April 2015. Based on your needs, we’re flexible with when you want to start working with your startup. Some designers have already joined their company before Bridge events start and other designers apply for one session but don’t start until a later program.

What kind of designers are you looking for?

Experienced designers from product, visual/UI, interaction/UX, research and engineering backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Bridge is for designers who are able to make an immediate impact with a top startup in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We’re looking for designers who are intrinsically generous. They’re the kind of people who ‘pay it forward,’ often the first to lend a hand and help their peers without always asking for something in return.

We’re looking for designers who can be leaders when it’s time to lead, and followers when it’s time to follow. If you can be self-guided to get things done and figure things out by being resourceful, you may be the perfect fit. If you can’t inspire others, navigate ambiguity, or collaborate with teams, Bridge probably isn’t for you.

Finally, we’re looking for designers who are deeply curious and friendly people that make others around them better people. Also, someone you’d want to hang out with on the weekend…

What’s the relationship between Bridge and Designer Fund?

Bridge is a professional development program produced and hosted at Designer Fund. Members from our community will participate in Bridge through our weekly talks and workshops.

Why are you doing Bridge?

The mission of Designer Fund is to help designers create businesses with meaningful impact. One way to do this is by helping designers create new startups. Another way is to help designers succeed through existing companies that are already having impact. Bridge furthers our mission in both of these ways.

Another reason why we’re creating Bridge is because there’s simply not enough great designers and we think current design education can only go so far in preparing designers with the skills needed by tech startups. We’re interested in the future of continued design education and career development. Thanks to our partner startups, designers are paid to keep getting better at their craft, instead of paying expensive tuitions and loans.

 

Designers

Why should I apply through Bridge?

By applying directly to Bridge, you can join our community and participate fully in all of our talks, workshops and events and eventually stay connected as part of our alumni network. We simplify the application process by making it easy for you to connect with any of our pre-vetted startup partners in one quick flow. Another benefit to applying is that we’ll review your application, help assess your portfolio and can make recommendations to our partners to fast track your application.

Once our partner companies review your application, they may reach out via email to setup an introductory phone call and if that goes well, then an interview. When there’s a fit, they’ll make you a full-time offer. We encourage them to offer two full-time options: a short-term contract for more flexibility and a long-term employment offer. You choose which startup and offer you want.

It also helps to have us on your side when negotiating: we make sure every designer who participates in Bridge gets a fair deal from their startup and understands all the details including equity. And if you’re coming from far away, we’ll see that you get help relocating from across the country or even internationally. We’ll be available throughout the process to answer questions and be your internal advocate.

You can also apply both to Bridge and to our partner startups job pages as well. Just make sure to tell them that you applied because of Bridge and that you want to participate in the program so that they prioritize your application. Based on your needs, we’re flexible with when you want to start working with your startup. Some designers have joined their company before Bridge events starts and other designers apply for one session but don’t start until a later session.

How does the application process work?

By applying directly to Bridge, you can join our community and participate fully in all of our talks, workshops and events and eventually stay connected as part of our alumni network. We simplify the application process by making it easy for you to connect with any of our pre-vetted startup partners in one quick flow. It’s helpful to explore a few options and get multiple perspectives from startups to find the right fit for you. Another benefit to applying is that we’ll review your application, help assess your portfolio and can make recommendations to our partners to fast track your application.

Once our partner companies review your application, they may reach out via email to setup an introductory phone call and if that goes well, then an interview. We recommend both a call and an in-person meeting if possible before you and your startup commit to working together. In some cases, a design challenge and/or a presentation will be asked of you. When there’s a fit, they’ll make you a full-time offer. We encourage them to offer two full-time options: a short-term contract for more flexibility and a long-term employment offer. You choose which startup and offer you want.

It also helps to have us on your side when negotiating: we make sure every designer who participates in Bridge gets a fair deal from their startup and understands all the details including equity. And if you’re coming from far away, we’ll see that you get help relocating from across the country or even internationally. We’ll be available throughout the process to answer questions and be your internal advocate.

For more info, check out our tips for preparing your portfolio, interviewing in general, and presenting your portfolio.

 

Can I join as a long-term employee?

Yes.

All designers work full-time at their company. Most accept long-term employment offers including  six figure salaries and an equity stake in their company. Some choose a short-term contract for more flexibility.

We advocated for companies to offer both long and short-term options because we want what’s best for you.

 

How many spots are there for designers in each program?

It’s up to our startup partners to decide how many designers they want to make offers to. Some of our partners have brought on multiple designers through Bridge.

What are the key dates?

  • September 22: Application open for Bridge 4
  • October 5th: Early application deadline
  • October 26th: Application closes
  • October – January: Application reviews, interviews,  offers, and start dates
  • Mid-January 2015: Bridge 4 events begin

What if I’m international?

Apply as early as possible, so we have more time to understand your visa situation. Depending on how long it takes to acquire your visa, you may be considered for a later Bridge program. Many of our partner startups are open to working with international designers and we know some of the best designers in the world are not in San Francisco.

Do I have to re-locate to participate in Bridge?

Yes, our Bridge partner startups and Designer Fund are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Startups will provide you with up to $10,000 in relocation expenses. We’ve had Bridge designers relocate from Chicago, New York, LA, and as far as Canada, Holland and Spain. Actual reimbursement limits and terms are subject to each startup’s policy. In the future, we’ll consider expanding to other cities.

What do I do besides work with a startup?

During Bridge, you work full-time at your startup and once a week come together as a community to exchange best practices. Each evening begins with a workshop deconstructing a practitioner’s design process. Presenters like Tim Van Damme and Jessica Hische show something they made, then walk the group through how they did it. At these workshops, you’re given insights that are rarely shared publicly about the process it took to design, build, and ship something. For instance, Andy Johns revealed growth tactics he used early on at Facebook and Twitter to make design decisions with data. Workshops are an opportunity to teach each other new methods to stay fresh because technology is constantly changing.

The night continues with a family-style dinner where we can share stories and get to know each other in a relaxed environment. Then we wrap up with a design leader or creative luminary who shares an off-the-record talk that inspires, challenges, and pushes the community to question what we’re working on and why we’re doing it. For example, Julie Zhou discussed designing with intention, Ev Williams talked about his philosophy for building products and Justin Rosenstein talked about a better way to work. Afterwards we often stay late into the night continuing the conversation and follow up the next week to show how we put words into action.

In addition, we host weekly checkins with Bridge designers and monthly critique sessions, one-on-ones, and weekend gatherings where we get to deepen our relationships.

Check out our Bridge 4 announcement and take a closer look into Bridge 2 here.

What happens after the program?

After Bridge, you may continue working with your startup or you’re free to join another company. Most Bridge designers accept six figure salaries and an equity stake in their company and continue working there long-term.

You may also continue participating in future Bridge programs as an alum. You’ll become part of a close-knit alumni group that will help each other grow for years to come.

We’re confident that if you participate in Bridge you’re going to advance your career and gain many more opportunities than you had before.

We also ask that Bridge designers contribute one blog post and offer a short skill-share / mini-workshop.

Does it cost designers?

No.

Designers are paid to participate in Bridge thanks to our partner startups.

Your offer may include being reimbursed up to $10,000 for your relocation costs in addition to receiving equipment, a competitive salary (most are six figures and include an equity stake), and health benefits (or a reasonable reimbursement for health insurance coverage) by your startup.

We also provide locally sourced dinner and drinks during our weekly Bridge events.

Designers are responsible for covering their food, lodging, and personal expenses outside of Bridge.

Education

How do educational events work?

During Bridge, you work full-time at your startup and once a week come together as a community to exchange best practices. Each evening begins with a workshop deconstructing a practitioner’s design process. Presenters like Tim Van Damme and Jessica Hische show something they made, then walk the group through how they did it. At these workshops, you’re given insights that are rarely shared publicly about the process it took to design, build, and ship something. For instance, Andy Johns revealed growth tactics he used early on at Facebook and Twitter to make design decisions with data. Workshops are an opportunity to teach each other new methods to stay fresh because technology is constantly changing.

The night continues with a family-style dinner where we can share stories and get to know each other in a relaxed environment. Then we wrap up with a design leader or creative luminary who shares an off-the-record talk that inspires, challenges, and pushes the community to question what we’re working on and why we’re doing it. For example, Julie Zhou discussed designing with intention, Ev Williams talked about his philosophy for building products and Justin Rosenstein talked about a better way to work. Afterwards we often stay late into the night continuing the conversation and follow up the next week to show how we put words into action.

In addition, we host weekly checkins with Bridge designers and monthly critique sessions, one-on-ones, and weekend gatherings where we get to deepen our relationships.

Check out our Bridge 4 announcement and take a closer look into Bridge 2 here.

Do I get formal classes?

Our belief is that you’ll learn the most by shipping products with the your startup. Our curriculum responds to the needs and goals of Bridge designers to help them advance their career and craft. Typical Bridge evenings consist of a checkin for just Bridge designers, then a workshop, followed by dinner and a talk. In addition, we host monthly critique sessions, one-on-ones, and weekend gatherings where we get to deepen our relationships. If there are specific topics you want to learn more about, you can always request request help and office hours with members of our community.

How do social events work?

We love to host private gatherings with Bridge designers and special guests including personal development workshops, creative movie screenings, sailing, hiking, karaoke, art making, sports games, tours, shows and community service that are fun and deepen our relationships away from the computer screen.

For a closer look at our program, check out our Bridge 4 Announcement and Inside Bridge 2.

Can I do side projects during Bridge?

You’re not encouraged to because you’re expected to dedicate full-time attention to your startup during Bridge, but exceptions can be made. Note that you’ll likely be required to sign an intellectual property agreement with your startup, and if you wish to exclude any specific side project, you should discuss this request in advance with your startup.

Startups

What kind of startups are you looking for?

We’re looking for startups with the following criteria:

  • Great mission and intention to produce meaningful impact at scale
  • Founders that value design and invest in it
  • Category defining product that uses design as a significant differentiator
  • Great team with at least one designer who can be a peer and role model
  • Healthy environment and culture that supports design
  • Significant user / customer traction
  • Well funded, generally Series A or later

If you know a startup who may be a fit for future Bridge programs, please contact us, [email protected]

What are the benefits of participating in Bridge for startups?

  • Featured startup design team and designer profile pages
  • Brand exposure with designers including top design schools, publications and events
  • Access to Bridge applicants
  • Studio space in San Francisco
  • Invitations to Bridge events with our community of designers

Tell your friends about Bridge