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Scott Tong Shares Invaluable Product Design Insights and Culture for Startups

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Many startups are launching their businesses left and right, but some may not have a design plan in mind. This, in turn, could lead to challenges ahead for startups looking to stand out from the crowd. And it’s best that startups learn to value design and development. One such expert in the field is designer Scott Tong. He worked as the head designer for Pinterest and was the co-founder of IFTTT. Currently, he’s an advisor for Designer Fund. Here, we take a look at the advice he has shared for startups.

Scott Tong: Early Stage 2021 Tidbits

TechCrunch held their TC: Early Stage 2021: Marketing and Fundraising Bootcamp for early-stage startup founders from July 8 to 9, 2021. One of their guest speakers was Scott Tong. 

He spoke with Jordan Crook from TechCrunch to discuss early-stage design and its long-term impact on the startup. Plus, he even reveals how to find the right people for product design work. He disclosed two important points on what entrepreneurs should think about when it comes to design: reputation and existing vs. preferred.

For Tong, he considers a brand as the reputation of a company. Here, he examines the following ideas:

  • First impression
  • Repeated long-term behaviors
  • Unique and memorable moments

And the other point he brought up in Early Stage 2021 is “existing vs. preferred.” This means scrutinizing design and understanding how it matters in your company.

User: The Driving Force of a Product

Scott Tong is no stranger to TechCrunch. In his article for Techcrunch around four years ago, he emphasizes that when developing or creating a product, the one thing that matters is the user. He urges startups to ask the question, “what is right for the user?” than “who is right.”

In the article, he branched out three concepts that have value when it comes to developing a product. And finding the best people to understand your users.

The first of his points is about understanding and driving T-shaped people. It’s when you have someone well-versed in their field while collaborating with another person from another field. The best ones are curious, empathetic, and humble.

His second point deals with T-shaped people and user-centered thinking coming together. Your T-shaped people should always have the question of how to solve problems for users. And these T-shaped people will know that they can’t satisfy all of your user’s needs but identify the best solutions for your users.

Lastly, your startup should always know how to craft high-quality decisions. But what counts as one? He lists down what makes a decision, high-quality:

  • User-centric
  • Timely
  • Calculated
  • Communicated
  • Humble
  • Shared
  • Monitored
  • Considered
  • Balanced

Other Speaking Engagements

Early Stage 2021 wasn’t the only time Scott Tong shared his design insights and experiences as a founder. The Designer Fund advisor was a guest in the Startup Grind. In this event, he talked about being a designer for IDEO and Pinterest. At the same time, as a founder, he also touches on the subject of culture. 

He gives his advice for entrepreneurs who have lost their sense of purpose. He says to get in touch with values. Plus, he’s aware that disagreements are ever-present in any business setting. And to reduce friction, trust is key, and understand your team.

One other podcast tapped the ex-Pinterest Head of Design to discuss Design Entrepreneurialism. In this podcast, he talks more about his journey as a designer and working in the new venture: IMO Ventures. 

And the one thing he emphasizes about design is culture, which he also wrote in his TechCrunch article. Here, he says that design is connected to messages, wherein it means one thing to the designer and another to its viewer. That’s one way startups may look when considering product design.

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Business

OpenStudio – Business Management All-In-One

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We all need a service that makes business easier, right? Managing your team, your finances, your documents, and your customers can be an arduous juggle. There are a few services out there that help businesses manage all of this. But have you heard of OpenStudio? No? Well, allow us to make a proper introduction. 

OpenStudio helps you centralize all the applications and services you may need in order to run a business. 

Some of the top features offered by OpenStudio are necessary in order to run a business but haven’t necessarily been rolled into one package. Things like IT Protocol/Document Management create a shared workspace to save your important documents for future consultation. 

Or perhaps you may find the Permissions and Authorization Management feature useful. You can decide which permissions and applications every member can access. 

OpenStudio offers the following services: 

  • Surveys
  • Content Management
  • Task Management
  • Ticketing
  • Alerts
  • Document Management
  • File Sharing

There are other similar services, but none of them are as neatly packaged and formatted as OpenStudio. Running a business doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need should be at your fingertips. A custom environment to manage your team, your finance, your documents, and your customers? Sign us up.

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Meet The World With Memrise

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All over the world, around 60-75% of people speak at least one language. People who speak more than one language report improved memory, problem-solving, critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, and more. So, if you speak more than one language, you essentially have an improved brain. If you want to join this crowd, Memrise may be the most effective option out there. 

One of the things that had kind of caught my attention was that psychology around how we learn languages.

Ben Whatley, Co-Founder and CPO of Memrise, learned French the way most of us learn a second language. We’re given the rules of the language, the grammar, how to speak properly. But there’s a flaw in that approach. 

I would go to France and I couldn’t speak a word. I wanted to understand why that was.

“That was a light bulb moment.”

The way we’re taught language is from the left brain perspective as opposed to the right. The left brain involves analytics, reading, and writing. The right brain involves creativity. If you need a metaphor to help you out, the left brain is the uptight, brilliant nerd and the right brain is the hippie-dippie artist.

Whenever you’re learning a language, you may often hear that the best way to learn is to immerse yourself in it. If you’re learning Spanish, spend a month in Mexico City. If you’re learning Japanese, take a trip to Tokyo. And so on. The grammatical approach to learning language has its value, but it’s the colloquial experience that truly helps imprint 

Whatley and fellow Oxford classmate, Ed Cooke, founded Memrise in 2010. Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory, had combined his skills with Whatley’s observations and ideas. They conceived of a new method of language learning. One more in line with immersion than grammar. 

We’ve been gradually and daringly evolving the product to bring more and more of the richness of real-world content into the course of our ongoing experience.” 

In 2016, we did a tour around Europe on a double-decker bus to collect a video dictionary of all the European languages. 

“Tens of thousands of short videos of native speakers [speaking] in context.

While other language learning apps like Duolingo or Babbel have computerized voices, Memrise has actual recorded voices.

That kind of got baked into our core algorithm – namely naturalistic accents, idioms, phrases as they’re spoken in the real world, not sort of in the kind of academic sense, but a kind of multi-dimensional learning.” – Cooke

Most everyone really wants when they’re learning a language is they’re learning it to connect with other people, to be able to read what other people mean and to be able to express themselves to other people.” – Whatley

Speaking Spanish to your teacher versus speaking to a coworker is notably different. Your teacher will have you say “poco” to mean “little” when your coworker will make fun of you for sounding too proper. Memrise would teach you that “poquito” is the casual way to say “little.” 

Memrise is disrupting the academic dominance of language learning by focusing more on practice than technique. How many native English speakers do you know that speak perfectly grammatical English? 

Let’s take “you all.” In the south, you’ll here “ya’ll.” But in Pittsburgh, you’ll hear “yinz.” Do you think ESL teachers are noting things like that? Probably not. Memrise, however, does focus on this more casual ways of speaking because they have a stronger understanding of how the human brain functions and how we communicate with one another. 

One interesting feature you’ll find with Memrise but not any other language learning app are Zoom conversations. These are free rooms where you can hop in and speak, say, Spanish with other people. Instead of traveling to Mexico City to immerse yourself in the Spanish language, you can log into Zoom and speak it with other speakers. 

It’s live person to person – it’s not a lesson. It is just about trying to use whatever language skills you’ve got in your in your bag. Just try and get it out there and use it, because that’s what happens when you are actually in a country.” – Whatley

The aspiration is to make it as fun as being in the country.” – Cooke

It’s never too late to learn a language. The pleasure of learning and speaking a new language is immeasurably rewarding. As Memrise says on their site, “learn and language and meet the word.”

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Business

Archbee Is Here To Centralize Your Company Data

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If you could describe Archbee in two words they would be: “documentation specialist.”

Founded in 2018 with $1 million in funding. Archbee is a knowledge base platform for technical teams to create, structure, and share documentation internally and to customers. 

The software provides a set of customized tools for software developers. This enables everyone in the business to organize key information and intelligence in a single hub. That’s a benefit of colleagues and customers, both present and future. 

Meet Dragos

In an interview with Forbes, founder and CEO of Archbee, Dragos Bulugean stated: 

We are talking about the knowledge that makes your business what it is. Archbee is meant to be the one-stop-shop for the documentation needs of software companies.”

“Businesses are in a rush to create products, launch them faster, and be the first to market. An important part of creating a product is its catalog or index – in essence, the ‘how to’ guide.’”

“It is this often neglected task that Archbee is making it easier to create. It is not just a product manul but a central knowledge base and the true front of knowledge which is making an impact on commercial metrics – helping improve onboarding time for customers, reducing the number of support tickets and, importantly, making the products understood by users.”

“We’re focused on helping any company that builds software to create collaborative spaces which are accessible to all and easy to use.” 

This long-awaited platform offers editing, document collaboration, Slack integration, file storage, and other related services. These features, in turn, enable engineers to disseminate real-time information about planning on their construction team. 

When you have a software as innovative as Archbee, it frees time up for developers and engineers. That way they’re able to spend more time in “deep-work” mode and solve more challenging problems that require full attention. 

In short, with Archbee, you can centralize all of your information in one place.

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