Connecting experienced designers with top startups in San Francisco

Applications for Session 4
open September 22, 2014

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Inside Bridge

Stories, photos and interviews from Bridge Session 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

Choose

Designers choose a startup in the SF Bay Area to join for short or long term

Impact

Design products that affect millions of people worldwide

Grow

Learn with a community of exceptional startup designers

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.

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

Still have questions?

About Bridge

What is Bridge?

Bridge is a design education program that connects mid- to senior-level designers with top startups in the San Francisco Bay Area. You are paid to work full-time at a startup of your choice and one evening a week, you participate in workshops and talks with an exceptional community of designers to accelerate your learning.

You can choose to work full-time on a short-term contract for more flexibility or as an employee if you’re ready for a longer-term commitment at one of our startup partners including Airbnb, Change.org, Asana, Flipboard, Healthtap, Dropbox, Pinterest, Inkling, Zendesk, Coursera, Khan Academy, One Kings Lane, Causes, Nextdoor and Square.

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

After the Bridge program ends, you may continue working at your startup long-term and participate in future Bridge programs as alumni. 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.

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

Note: The specific terms, including, but not limited to, short or long term employment, salary and benefits, may vary and are agreed upon between each Bridge designer and their startup.

How long does it last?

During Bridge you can work full-time on a short-term contract for more flexibility or as an employee if you’re ready for a longer-term commitment at one of our startup partners.

Bridge 3 education programming, including workshops and talks, runs approximately three months from May to August. Based on your needs, we’re flexible with when you want to start working with your startup. Some designers have joined their company early before Bridge starts and some designers apply for one session but don’t start until a later program.

What kind of designers are you looking for?

Experienced designers from visual/UI, interaction/UX and front end 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’ and help their peers without asking for something in return, and they are often the first to lend a hand.

We’re looking for designers who are leaders. If you can’t inspire others, navigate ambiguity, or collaborate with teams, Bridge probably isn’t for you. But if you can be self-guided, can get things done without being micro-managed, and can figure things out without always asking for permission, you may be the perfect fit.

Finally, we’re looking for designers who are deeply curious and friendly people to be around: someone who can be inspired by everything around them and can share insights with others to make their designs better. Also, someone you’d want to hang out with on the weekend…

What’s the relationship between Bridge and Designer Fund?

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

Why are you doing Bridge?

The mission of Designer Fund is to invest in designers creating businesses with meaningful impact. One way to do this is by helping designers create new businesses. Another way is to help designers succeed through existing startups. Bridge furthers our mission by helping designer founders and startups that truly value design build their design teams.

Another core reason why we’re creating Bridge is because there’s simply not enough great designers and we think current design schools can only go so far in preparing designers with the skills needed by startups. We’re interested in the future of applied and continuous design education. Thanks to our partner startups, designers are paid to learn by doing, instead of paying expensive tuitions and loans, to keep our program sustainable.

 

Designers

Why should I apply through Bridge?

We simplify the application process by making it easy for you to connect with any of our hand-picked 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. We’re like your design friend that can make a warm introduction and make sure that our partner companies prioritize reviewing your application.

We also help give you the option to decide what type of offer you want. You can work full-time on a short-term contract for more flexibility or as an employee if you’re ready for a longer-term commitment. It 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 (most accept six figure salaries and an equity stake in their company). And if you’re coming from far away, we’ll see that you get help relocating from across the country or even internationally.

In addition, when you apply through Bridge you get full access to participate in every workshop and talk with our exceptional community of designers to accelerate your learning. You’ll be exposed to a breadth of best practices that are rarely shared across companies. You can even request critiques and office hours with members of our community. After Bridge, you’ll become part of a growing close-knit alumni group that will continue to help you grow as a designer for years to come.

You can also apply both to Bridge and to our partner startups as well. Just tell them that you want to participate in Bridge when you reach out. Based on your needs, we’re flexible with when you want to start working with your startup. Some designers have joined their company early before Bridge starts and some designers apply for one session but don’t start until a later session.

How does the application process work?

While applying, you can indicate which startups you’re interested in working with. Our partner startups will review your application and if there’s a fit, they’ll send you an email introduction. 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. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether to accept an offer to join one our startup partners. However, our partners are not required to choose a designer if there’s not a good fit.

Can I join as a long-term employee?

Yes.

You can choose to work full-time on a short-term contract for more flexibility or as an employee if you’re ready for a longer-term commitment. Most Bridge designers eventually accept six figure salaries and an equity stake in their company.

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?

  • January 28: Application open for Bridge 3 (Spring 2014)
  • February 9th: Early application deadline
  • March 2nd: Application closes
  • Mid-May: Bridge 3 begins

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 and Holland. 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 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.

For a look into our last program, check out Inside Bridge 2.

What happens after the program?

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

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 make one blog post and a short presentation about their Bridge experience.

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 above six figures and include an equity stake), and health benefits (or a reasonable reimbursement for health insurance coverage) by your startup.

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

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 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.

Mentors from the Designer Fund and special guest speakers may also attend. For a closer look at our program, check out Inside Bridge 2 and our Insights from talks.

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 achieve their startup work at an even higher level of quality. It consists of a small group session for just Bridge designers, then a workshop, followed by dinner and a talk. We also welcome designers to teach each other best practices during our pair design sessions. 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 creative movie screenings, sailing, hiking, karaoke, art making, sports games, tours, shows and other activities that are fun and build a strong community away from the computer screen.

For a closer look at our program, check out 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 that:

  • Great mission and intention to produce meaningful impact at scale
  • Category defining product that uses design as a significant differentiator
  • Great design team with at least one designer who can be a peer and role model
  • Healthy environment that grows and nurtures designers
  • Founders that value design and invest in it
  • 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
  • Branding and exposure with designers including top design schools, publications and events
  • Access to applicants for each Bridge program
  • Studio space in San Francisco
  • Participation in educational and social events with our community of designers

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