Awesome People - Ep 29

UI/UX design, content, machine learning, engineering

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes— who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis.

Today we have:

  • Patty, your freelance product designer

  • 3 FT gems and 1 layoff list

  • PS. We’re in beta!

Please meet Patty, Your Freelance Product Designer 

Patty was introduced to me by Lauren, one of our letterer friends in Brooklyn. Funny enough, the three of us all love digital nomading on the same tiny island in Thailand. 

Patty is extra awesome because she’s designing Awesome People’s product. Over the next 1-2 months we’ll be launching new features, starting with our homepage today 🎉! She’s fantastic to work with. In addition to working with us, she’s worked with over a dozen venture-backed startups to research, design, vet, and launch their MVPs. She’s also led design teams and funnel optimization projects (in some cases leading to 600%+ gains 💪). Check out her portfolio here.

Fun fact about Patty: she’s visited 6 continents, 30 countries and now nests in Mexico City. 

She's trusted by Kissmetrics, Skillhire, Dice, Toptal, and YC Startups.

You can hire her to design your product (UI/UX), design your MVPs, do user research, create a mobile or web UI component library, and optimize features. 

If you want product design help, email me and I’ll connect you to Patty!

She was gracious enough to share 5 pro tips:

Improve your homepage

Often companies put too much information on their homepage and lose their customers in the scroll. Less is more. When in doubt, cut it out. Cut word length for improved readability. Lastly, remember benefits are king. Market your benefits, not your features. 

Set and communicate expectations to build a strong design team

Many working relationships and projects fail due to a lack of shared expectations. At the beginning of every project, set goals, deliverables, and timelines. Every design project should be tied to a company objective, e.g. higher engagement or sales. Everyone should know why the project is important, what they’re driving toward, and understand the process. KPIs are your friend. Yes, even for design 😀. 

Approach problems with a beginner’s mindset

All startups have their own audiences (e-commerce, telemedicine, consumer SaaS, B2C, B2B...).  It's essential that you understand your users. Good design should help your users reach their goals. Anytime you start a new design project, act dumb. Try to withhold biases and assumptions. Talk to your users.

Ask them questions like ‘What are you trying to accomplish here?’ and ‘What tools do you currently use to do this and why?’ Do your user research, and only then, add your knowledge and assumptions into the project.

Kill your darlings

Spent endless hours on a project? After vetting it in quantitative or qualitative ways, it didn’t hit? Kill it. Don’t get attached. Design is a continuous cycle, and your designs should be fast, efficient, and iterative. Iteration is key to a healthy startup and life. 

Don't get distracted by design trends

Design trends don’t always honor good design heuristics and can lead to reduced optimization. New design trends often lead to sites looking the same. Instead of following the latest trend, talk to your users and team to understand their goals. Design from first principles.

FT Gems 

Given that we took last week off, we missed the layoffs at Samsara, a B2B SaaS company backed by a16z and General Catalyst (raised $930M). They laid off 18% of their team. Here’s their well-designed layoff list. 

Here are some FT gems from the community. Feel free to reach out to them directly. 

  • Sharon Wang, Design Lead. Most recently she was the Product Design Lead at Affinity (CRM co, raised $40M). She was recommended by Jeff Fan, one of the best designers I’ve worked with. 

  • Liz Huang, content marketer and writer. She’s worked at Carta and Pivotal (legendary product co), and is currently freelancing at AngelList. She was recommended by Mischa who’s a trusted content strategist and was early at Twitter

  • Pujaa Rajan, Machine Learning Engineer and related roles. She’s worked at, Blackrock, and is a US Ambassador to Women in AI. We met via the On Deck community. 

Fin 😀.

Let me know if you want an intro to Patty and feel free to reach out to the FT gems directly!

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People

Founder of Awesome People Ventures

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P.S. Awesome People is in Beta

We launched our website and updated our name!

Awesome People List is now Awesome People. You can find us at 🎉. Stay tuned for more product updates! Feedback welcome, always.

Supercharge your team with part-time talent.

Our “request for talent” service is officially in beta 👏. Want to hire the best, but don’t need them full-time or have the budget? We’ve got your back. Email us at

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