Founding Designer Track

Program and community for CMU designers
aspiring to join a startup as the first designer

About the program

This track is an exclusive program for CMU designers featuring a series of talks, AMAs, and group discussions.

  • 6-week program from Oct 13 - Nov 17, every Tuesday (5-7pm PST)
  • First half of each session will be discussion led by experienced CMU design leaders, second half will focus on peer-to-peer knowledge sharing
  • Fully virtual via Zoom
  • Cohort size of 15-20
  • Strong focus on building community
  • Connect with folks from Founding CEO Track and Technical Founder Track
  • Continued support and resources after the program as you continue your journey
Apply now!

Why we built this

Being the first design hire at a startup could mean many things besides the exciting journey building a product from 0 to 1: navigating company strategy pivots; taking on ad-hoc design asks for an ads banner or swag; explaining to coworkers again and again how design can bring value to the team; bargaining budget for research and content strategy; asking for a seat at the table in executive other words, messes and chaos.

We’ve heard from many designers how they wish to have more support and guidance on how to better position and strategize oneself in startup environments. This program is our attempt to help bridge the gap in the industry, given many of our senior CMU alumni have been through this journey and have many great learnings to share.

By the end of this track, you should be able to...
Navigate with confidence
Build the confidence and essential toolkits to navigate a startup as the founding designer
Access a network of mentors
Learn from and build meaningful relationships with senior CMU alumni
Build community with like-minded designers
Be part of community of entrepreneurial designers who will continue to support each other

Types of events

Sample Topics

Your role as the first designer at a hyper-growth startup
Defining what design means at your startup
Scaling your design team
Setting up design process for your organization from 0 to 1
Building inclusive product / design culture
Getting a seat at the table
Picking right startup/team to join
The most critical skills to set you up for success

Frequently asked questions

Who should apply?

Any CMU designer considering joining a startup as the first designer sometime in the future.

Do I have to be in a startup or planning on joining one immediately to apply?

Not at all! While the program focuses on practical frameworks and mentorship to set you up for success, so long as you are passionate about the entrepreneur world, and have strong belief in the value of design at startup environments, we’d encourage you to apply.

What is the format and commitment?

The program will run over 6 evening sessions every Tuesday from 5-7pm PT. First half of each session will be discussion led by experienced CMU design leaders, second half will focus on peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

Commitment is attending each of these 6 weekly sessions.
The dates are: Oct 13, Oct 20, Oct 27, Nov 3, Nov 10, Nov 17.

Can I join the program if I’m not based in the Bay Area?

Yes! The program is fully virtual, so you can participate from anywhere as long as the timing works for you (5-7pm PT every Tuesday).

How much does the program cost?

The program is completely free (no cost or equity component). We are proud to be able to support the CMU community.

What is the application deadline?

Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 11:59pm PT

Get involved

  • Share your experiences and learnings as a founder with the group.
  • We can work with you to find format you are most comfortable with (presentation, fireside chat, AMA, facilitating discussion, etc)
  • Commitment: 1hr Zoom on Thursday evening
  • If you’re open to being a resource for CMU alumni participating in the program
  • We can work with you to find structure that is most effective such as setting up Office Hours, answering questions in a Slack channel, or connect to you with individuals you are well-positioned to help
  • Commitment: as your schedule permits
  • If you’re open to providing feedback as we develop curriculum and structure of the program
  • Commitment: as your schedule permits
Apply to the Founding Designer Track today!
Apply now!