Expert Tips for Hiring Designers in Startups - Garry Tan (Part 2)

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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Design for Startups by Garry Tan (Part 2)" by Y Combinator
TLDR Provide tips and strategies for startups to hire designers, including finding a co-founder, prioritizing empathy and user needs, and utilizing remote workers and design firms.

Key insights

  • 💡
    Finding and choosing designers for startups requires careful consideration of the stage of the company, the need for a co-founder, and the importance of a user-facing element.
  • 🌍
    "You'll find incredibly talented people all around the world, from Philippines, Thailand, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Europe, and even the United States."
  • 🤝
    When interviewing designers, it's important to have them walk through hard decisions and trade-offs in product design, to see their thought process and ability to prioritize.
  • 🤔
    It's important for designers to be empathetic and listen to the needs of users, rather than focusing on themselves.
  • 🌟
    Start-up success lies at the intersection of design, product, and other factors, emphasizing the importance of considering all aspects for a thriving business.
  • 🤔
    Asking open-ended questions is a key strategy to accurately understand the story of your user during a user interview.
  • 🔥
    Open-ended questions can help identify "hair on fire" problems that truly upset people, making them ideal areas for innovation and problem-solving.
  • 🤔
    Controversy can be a powerful tool in marketing, as it can attract attention and create a divide between those who strongly dislike a product and those who are intrigued by it.


  • What are some tips for startups to hire designers?

    — Startups can find designers by having a co-founder, utilizing websites like Dribbble and LinkedIn, reaching out to individual consultants, and considering design firms.

  • How can startups attract designers to work for them?

    — Startups can attract designers by having a consumer focus, a diversified team with clear roles, and a co-founder.

  • What should startups consider when interviewing designers?

    — Startups should assess designers' communication skills, problem-solving approach, and have them walk through difficult trade-offs.

  • What is the importance of empathy and user needs for designers?

    — Designers should prioritize empathy and listening to user needs, considering the users and problem before starting to draw.

  • Is secrecy important for startups?

    — Secrecy can be important for competitive advantage, but being open and getting people to know about the product is crucial to compete against obscurity.

Timestamped Summary

  • 💼
    Hire designers for your startup by finding a co-founder, user-facing element, and developer API designer, and using websites and schools to build a team during Series B.
  • 💼
    Hire remote workers through email and platforms like 99designs and Fiverr to find the best talent and save costs.
  • 👀
    Finding a design firm for a startup can be tough, but directories and referrals exist, and Play-Doh Design is a recommended option.
  • 🎨
    Designers should prioritize empathy and user needs, communicate effectively, and approach problem-solving similarly to the founder when working with startups.
  • 📚
    Startups should get a design leader or respected friend to do a final check before hiring and read recommended books and articles, including "Taste for Makers" by Paul Graham.
  • 🔍
    Look for emotional and open-ended problems to solve during user interviews for impactful solutions.
  • 🔑
    Keeping secrets can be important, but being open about your product is crucial to compete against obscurity.
  • 💰
    Soylent's success is fueled by controversy over its name, generating $1 billion in free advertising.
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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Design for Startups by Garry Tan (Part 2)" by Y Combinator
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