Founding Designer Track

A course and community for those considering joining a startup as the first designer.


The first design hire has the power to transform the entire trajectory of a startup. And while we’ve tried to gather the best design advice on the First Round Review, we’ve spotted a gap that we want to help close.

As the first designer at a startup, you’re taking on a role that’s filled with unlimited opportunity — and endless minefields. Vetting companies, aligning with founders and finding the right fit isn’t easy. And more fundamentally, it’s often unclear what this essential founding team role is all about. You could be doing everything from designing the overall UX to thinking about the brand to creating icons.

We’re launching Founding Designer Track to bring curriculum and community to those who are considering climbing aboard a startup as the first designer. We’ll offer an inside look at this pivotal role — what it’s really like, pitfalls to avoid, and tips to set yourself up for success.

Applications for this program are now closed. Please sign up below to stay updated on future cohorts.

The Program

Founding Designer Track is an exclusive program to help you prepare for the first designer role. We’ll have four sessions, every other week spanning March to May. The first half of each session is a moderated discussion led by visionaries in the field. The second half of each session is focused on peer-to-peer knowledge exchange where a Design Coach will sit in and provide feedback.

Sample Topics

Understanding early stage equity

Hiring your second designer

Frameworks for choosing the right startup to join

Defining what design means at your startup

Evaluating Founders

Running customer development process at the earliest stages

How to collaborate with the founding team

Scaling the design function

Our Experts and Coaches

Here are some of the folks who will be leading our sessions.

Jared Erondu

First Designer at Lattice

Braden Kowitz

Co-Founder & First Designer at Range

Stephanie Hornung

First Designer at Asana

Davey Nguyen

First Designer at Gusto

Jessica Ko

First Designer at Opendoor

Teresa Man

Lead Designer at Superhuman

Sara Lin

First Designer at Parastructure

Amir Hadjihbib

First Designer at Checkr

Katie Witkop

First Designer at Faire

Rebecca Garza-Bortman

First Designer at Masterclass

Soleio Cuervo

Early Designer at Facebook & Dropbox

Anthony Short

First Designer at Segment

Patrick Weiss

Designer in Residence at First Round

Todd Jackson

Former VP Product & Design at Dropbox

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely not. Maybe you’re just considering joining a startup as the first designer sometime in the future. Or perhaps you’re already in that role and looking to join this community.

The program is run over 4 evening sessions. Each session has a guide that will explore an important topic with the cohort. In addition, there will be interactive projects and peer-to-peer sharing. The dates are: March 25, April 8, April 22 and May 6.

Currently, the program is being held in San Francisco. But please apply if you’d like to join remotely and we’ll consider including you in a future program.

Friday, February 21, 2020 at 12pm PT