Awesome People - Ep 59

product design, systems-oriented design, strategy, wellness

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.


Please meet Katy and Sarah of Moss, the go-to design firm for healthcare and wellness cos ❤️

*This episode applies to everyone building world-class products and brands, not just wellness cos. That means it applies to you 😉.

I asked Twitter for great UX designer recs and another designer, Taylor Dunham, suggested that I talk to Katy and Sarah. Taylor was recommended to Awesome People by Vlad, the CEO of Webflow. This past year Katy and Sarah joined forces to create Moss, a design firm focused on healthcare and wellness startups. Over the course of their careers, they have worked with early-stage startups based in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. They were recently featured on Adobe Live (Part 1 and Part 2). Fun fact: they met in a carpool driving from Yosemite to San Francisco 😂.

They’re trusted by leading healthcare cos such as Humana, The American Hospital Association, Ascension, Jupiter, Graybar, Breakthrough Technologies, and ReviveHealth. 

You can hire Katy and Sarah to solve your business challenges using branding, strategy, research, UX/UI, and product design. They have a very empathetic and human-oriented approach.

Need product design or brand design help? Let me know and I’ll connect you with Katy and Sarah! They’re super excited to meet you!


They kindly shared some pro-tips with us here ✨

Shift from user-centered design to systems-oriented design  

User-centered design was all the rage for decades. Now we’re realizing its limitations. In user-centered design, you focus solely on the user’s needs, story, goals, and how to make their experience frictionless. However, this method neglects the fact that the user fits into a larger system.

Here are two examples of where user-centered design broke down. Remember early in the pandemic when delivery companies switched to contactless delivery? The news covered massive lines of drivers waiting outside of restaurants. The restaurants — staffing, workflows, parking— were not prepared for the switch. The result? Cold and late food. In the case of Airbnb, local legislators fought to ban the company because of unintended consequences — rising rents, strangers disrupting neighborhoods, and community concerns. 

You need to design for the entire system to provide a high-quality experience. 

Here’s how to get started with systems-oriented design

  1. Map out your systems to improve them

    Identify and understand all the users in your system. If you have a physical space, try “spatial mapping.” Survey users or monitor the space to understand how people move through your space. Take a floor plan and map it out. Where do people like to hang out? Where do people tend to avoid? How can you improve the flow? If you have a digital product, the same concept applies. Create a user journey that includes all the stakeholders and systems involved. 

  2. Identify unintended consequences to avoid disaster

    It’s important to consider what can go wrong. If you don’t, bad things can happen. For example, last week a wellness company, Rae, pulled a line of metabolism-boosting products from Target. Teenage girls were promoting their overuse for weight loss purposes. The company was forced to release a statement apologizing and saying the products were intended for adults, 18yr+. Vice News called it “a massive blind spot with potentially devastating consequences” and questioned whether the company should be trusted to sell wellness products. If Rae had explored the potential downsides, and messaged accordingly on the packaging, they could have avoided the unfortunate press and financial loss. 

Maintain a design process rooted in strategy

Without a clear design goal, it’s hard to get results. Let’s say you want to redesign your website. Why? To increase sales? To attract quality talent? To gear up to fundraise? Depending on your goal, you’ll want to take a different approach. 

Break design into 3 phases

  1. Discovery & Framing

    First dig deep into your business goals, vision, and current challenges. Articulate the problem and why it needs to be solved right now. From there, move forward with competitive research, marketing or web audits, and interviews to get more context. 

    Key Questions:

    • Why do you need to solve this problem? 

    • Why do you want to do it now?

    • How does this problem fit into the bigger picture?

    • What are we missing?

  2. Concepting

    Start on paper or a whiteboard. Keep things low fidelity. High-quality visuals distract from the ideas. Early in the process let go of constraints and allow ideas to flow freely. Try brainstorming, design workshops, and even role-play exercises. Include all your stakeholders —  from leadership to customer experience to sales —  to understand how potential solutions impact your team and system. 

    Key Questions:

    • How many unique, effective solutions can we produce? 

    • What are the advantages and limitations of each?

    • Does this solution satisfy requirements? 

    • Will it fit into the larger business strategy? 

  3. Build & Refine

    Finally, mock up the solution to get user feedback. Start getting feedback before actually building the solution. Once you have something you’re happy with, build it. Continue to test and refine regularly. Your users’ needs and business goals change over time. Your product should too. Refine, refine, refine.

    Key Questions:

    • How can we improve?

    • How are users using the product? 

    • What are areas we missed or didn’t think about originally? 

    • Where are users getting stuck? And why?

Want an intro to Katy and Sarah? Lmk and I’ll connect you!


As always, let me know if you have any questions and if you want an intro to any of the folks in this email (including the PS section 🎉).

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People Talent & Awesome People Ventures (join the syndicate)

If you liked this, ❤️ it below. If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here 💌


Part-Time Opportunities 🔥

Social media marketing for Aether Diamonds - This is one of the coolest jobs in the whole world. I kid you not. Aether is literally making diamonds out of thin air using carbon air capture technology. They work with cool influencers and media who care about the climate. They want someone to run their Insta and build their socials.

Senior product marketing manager for PrimeTrust - PrimeTrust is a fintech API that makes it faster to bring financial products to market. They work with fintech startups like Binance, TrustToken, and Bittrex. This role will work on products in cool fintech areas like crowdfunding, cryptocurrency, and payment rails. They’re looking for a product marketing expert who loves APIs, words, and rolling up their sleeves.

Paid user acquisition expert for Hireclub - Hireclub is a beloved online career coaching company and community that’s gearing up for growth. They have a profitable CAC/LTV ratio and need someone to own paid marketing on Facebook and Instagram. Small, lean, and very kind team.

If these roles are a fit for you, or anyone you know, let me know and we’ll make the connections!

Most Recent Awesome People 🙏

Rachel - Brand partnerships and campaigns consultant. Rachel is trusted by Uber, Cameo, and Graduate Hotels. Rachel worked at Uber for 4 years. While at Uber, she program-managed various global initiatives.

Edem - Video producer and creative strategist. You can hire him to manage, strategize, and produce your videos. He's trusted by amazing cos like Journey Meditation, Saxx, Footaction, and Floodgate.

Sarah - Interim head of marketing. Sarah was an early employee at Uber (~ employee #100!) and was there for 7 years. She wore many hats across marketing, brand, and product. 

Want intros to anyone here? Lmk and I’ll connect you!

❤️ ❤️ ❤️