Investing in Design

Phin Barnes (First Round Capital)
Design & UI
Location: New York East Level:
Presentation: Investing in Design Presentation [PDF]
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Investing in Design

The rapidly evolving building blocks of the web, modern programming languages, open source projects, and cloud resources, are pushing the cost of getting to launch toward zero and reducing the engineering pre-requisities at a similar pace. This dramatic reduction in the cost of a development cycle has spawned the lean start-up and with it, a new appreciation for consumer feedback and iteration. The question entrepreneurs and investors have to answer is no longer “can this be built and by who?” but, “should this be built and for who?”

Designers have been practicing the agile principles of the lean start-up for hundreds of years. At the core, design is an inductive language, moving from individual need to possibility. Designers listen to individuals and identify simple narratives. Problem solving is driven by insights and understanding, product testing through rapid prototyping and iteration, iteration, iteration.

As a global design hub, for fashion, architecture, furniture, art and media, New York is an ideal place to build a design-centric company. Our culture embraces difference, defines diversity and operates at a volume that drowns out all but the most compelling messages. In this city, the language of innovation is design and if you are not fluent, you are just a tourist.

In this talk, a former creative director, entrepreneur, and now seed stage investor will argue for a shift in mindset from engineering to design and offer some strategies to help you get there.

Photo of Phin Barnes

Phin Barnes

First Round Capital

I am a Principal at First Round Capital, Worked at AND 1 from “day 2″ and founded a fitness video game company.

Before joining First Round Capital, Phin founded ResponDesign, an independent videogame company that developed and published Yourself!Fitness, the first fitness game for Xbox and PlayStation2. While managing the marketing and distribution of Yourself!Fitness from 2003-2006, Phin secured retail partnerships with Nordstrom and Best Buy as well as promotional partnerships with Proctor & Gamble and McDonald’s.
One of the earliest employees at AND 1 Basketball, Phin spent six years helping to grow the company from revenues of $15 million to over $225 million. While at AND 1 Phin led product direction, managed relationships with national retail accounts and created the initial concept for the signature AND 1 marketing property—the AND 1 Mix Tape.

Phin also has consulted with several companies, including MTV Networks, where he focused on non-traditional games and the growth of the MTV Games division beginning in 2006.

Phin earned his MBA with honors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a double major in Operations and Information Management and Finance. He earned his BA in Economics and Sociology from Haverford College in 1998 and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society. A college basketball player, Phin maintains his addiction to sneakers and a decent mid-range jumper. He has also participated in several triathlons and marathons and looks forward to more.

  • Visa
  • IBM
  • HP
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • dynaTrace
  • EffectiveUI
  • Elastic Path
  • FireHost
  • IBT
  • Litle & CO
  • Plimus
  • Quest Software
  • Research In Motion
  • SoftLayer
  • Yottaa

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(415) 947-6306
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