Danielle Thompson is a UI/UX product designer specializing within the fintech market. She has helped firms increase over $200 million in seed and VC funding, and she or he is now the founding father of Design Match, a service connecting wonderful design expertise with bold startups all around the world.  She spoke to Doreen Lorenzo for Designing Girls, a sequence of interviews with good girls within the design trade.

Doreen Lorenzo: When did you first understand you had an curiosity in design?

Danielle Thompson: I wasn’t conscious of it, however I used to be all the time constructing issues as a child. I’d create little outlets and be involved about how issues have been offered. Later once I went to artwork faculty, I completely cherished creating artwork, however artwork didn’t all the time really feel accessible due to the cultural references wanted to know sure items. After I bought uncovered to the design world at college, I began to fall in love with what design actually was – the artwork of translation. For those who don’t perceive one thing I’ve made, then it’s on me because the designer. Design actually is for the individuals we design for.

Danielle Thompson [Photo: courtesy Design Match]

What impressed you to launch your first startup? What did you study from the expertise?

My first startup was impressed by me studying I may work and earn a living on-line. I discovered tips on how to use Photoshop and other people began hiring me to edit their pictures for his or her on-line courting profiles and design their resumes. I keep in mind speaking to my classmates in my first yr of college, they usually have been so stunned I used to be already getting cash as a designer. Nobody was working on-line on the time, however I had a powerful basis of empowerment fueled by my dad and mom, my household, and my group that gave me the arrogance to exit into the world earlier than I had a level and even carried out an internship.

At 17 years previous, I based my first firm working on-line referred to as Intern, which created accessible paid internships for design college students. I created the web site, a few of the platform, and went out to try to get funding. I bought my first test for $35,000 and that was matched in Canada by a younger entrepreneurship fund. I had $70,000, however no concept tips on how to construct or run the corporate. It was a messy begin. There have been so many points with that firm and it finally didn’t succeed. I didn’t understand how laborious it will be to work with college students and educate them tips on how to work on-line. I truly returned the cash to my investor as a result of I felt I didn’t do what I stated I got down to do. It was nonetheless a terrific expertise as a result of it taught me how a lot I don’t know. It is advisable fail earlier than you can begin to see issues clearly and perceive what points go into operating an organization.

You’ve gone on to grow to be the founding father of a lot of different startups. Are you able to inform us about them?

After that first startup, I began freelancing and elevating my earnings. I quickly had an excessive amount of work to tackle myself, so I launched a sequence of businesses that allowed me to rent individuals and finally construct a global group. I wished to show different individuals how to do that, particularly since as I traveled I grew to become a mini influencer. I had grown a giant following of ladies of shade and bought featured in locations like Cosmo journal. I keep in mind there was this lady who got here as much as me once I was in Vietnam and requested, “Are you Danielle Thompson? I comply with you on Instagram. I believed you have been in Bali!” I used to be like, oh my gosh. Is that this what being well-known appears like?

I created the Freelance Journey Community which helped college students go from struggling after quitting or dropping their job to changing into six-figure freelancers in and out of doors of design. After that, I went on to create Dream Staff, an organization that builds groups for startups. I collaborated with a companion within the U.S. to construct wonderful groups of individuals from all around the world to create merchandise for startups on-line throughout Covid. I additionally created a group referred to as Design Membership which connects designers with different designers to empower each other. All through all of those experiences, I spotted all I wished to do was create extra equal alternatives and assist individuals make more cash. Probably the most sensible method to do this is to really get individuals jobs. That’s the place my present firm Design Match got here in.

What’s Design Match’s mission?

At Design Match, our mission is to empower a million designers. The rationale why we’re so obsessive about empowering designers is as a result of every little thing in our world is designed. The laptop computer you’re utilizing, the cup that I’m consuming out of. Every thing stems from design. We’ve these designers who select issues they need to create on the planet. My concept is that if we empower the creators, makers, and designers who need to construct the merchandise and experiences they need to, perhaps they’ll select to create issues round us that make the world higher. If we empower extra creatives, perhaps they’ll select to design a greater world.

Which design initiatives or merchandise have you ever’ve labored on that you just’re most pleased with?

I not too long ago set to work with St. Jude Hospital to assist create the most important open-source pediatric most cancers database on the planet. I didn’t know something about this area going into the venture. Now I do know there’s a lot information on the market that may assist speed up discoveries and cures with out the lengthy analysis paper publication course of and entire paperwork that places progress on maintain. Conducting analyses usually requires a supercomputer and costly software program, however we created a solution to immediately do most analyses within the cloud. I get chills once I speak about it as a result of once I consider the influence of this, it’s completely large. This product is democratizing all this pediatric most cancers information to set the world stage for pediatric and hopefully grownup most cancers analysis in order that hospitals, clinics, and analysis establishments can share their work extra continuously and foster an open-source training platform.

A part of being a terrific designer is the power to immerse your self in different cultures. As somebody who’s traveled the world over, how has that influenced your design perspective?

I’m from Canada and was residing in Montreal. I used to be so proud of my life there. I had wonderful associates who have been supportive of me. My profession was going rather well. After I inform individuals about my travels, they assume I left for a greater life or one thing like that. That’s not my story. Montreal and Canada are nonetheless dwelling in my coronary heart. Life there was very snug, however I felt like as a way to broaden my view of the world and contribute in a significant method, I wanted to get extra uncomfortable. The key sauce to touring is to simply accept that there’s going to be discomfort. Whenever you’re leaving one thing recognized to go to one thing unknown, you need to mentally put together for uncertainty. I learn a statistic that one of the worrying issues that you are able to do in life is transfer. I do this like 10 instances a yr.

After I go to a rustic the place I don’t converse the language, I don’t actually have a SIM card, there’s a lot uncertainty. You begin to grow to be extra snug with uncertainty. You even begin to anticipate it. You grow to be extra resourceful. That resourcefulness has translated into my design. My curiosity for the world and deeply diving into the each day lifetime of so many cultures has allowed me to create higher digital merchandise and experiences. Understanding how languages influence the existence of individuals in sure areas has elevated my empathy, permitting me to step into roles the place I’m a designer making a scientific software although I most likely failed one in all my science programs at school. Touring lets me channel completely different personas as a result of I’ve grow to be so used to adapting to wherever I’m on the planet.

How do you select the place to go? Is it pushed by initiatives or do you simply select the place you need to go go to?

It’s pushed by what I’m feeling in the mean time and what I need to really feel like. For instance, I had been residing in Bali and it was lovely, calm, and relaxed. Now I’m prepared for a metropolis. I’m able to deliver again that vitality. Generally my precise constructing course of works higher in sure cycles. Bali is a good place for ideation as a result of once I’m in Southeast Asia normally, there’s this comfort tradition that permits me to really feel like no matter I need to do is feasible. Then once I take that vitality and people concepts and convey them into North or South America, unexpectedly I’m on this fast-paced atmosphere and I begin executing at a sooner tempo. I’m very into self information and monitoring myself to know how I work, how I sleep, how meals impacts me. It’s this concept of operating the design course of on myself to know how areas and locations have an effect on my productiveness. Every thing truly began to correlate, and I’ve been capable of make extra educated selections by finishing up the design course of alone life.

You appear to be a pure mentor. How can encourage extra designers to grow to be mentors?

Motivating designers to show and share is about serving to them understand that they’ve a lot worth to provide. What I encourage individuals to do is keep in mind after they have been dreaming about being the place they’re now. We have to present those who they’re profitable the place they’re actually proper now, even after they nonetheless have targets and ambitions. When you understand that, there’s a pure want to deliver individuals together with you. The rationale individuals don’t grow to be mentors in my view is that they don’t assume they’ve something to provide. As soon as they understand they do, the dialog modifications. mentor doesn’t even actually educate a lot. They only assist individuals see their very own greatness.

How can we collectively uplift and assist underrepresented designers?

There are practices like blind hiring and visible illustration that may deliver in additional range to firms, however to deliver extra underrepresented designers to the forefront, I feel applications like Design Match are incredible. We’ve designers from all around the world like Romania, Nigeria, Canada, the US, Singapore, Malaysia, and extra. We do all of the promoting for them. We inform the shopper why every designer is the proper match, placing this degree of belief of their determination. Getting this stamp from the corporate reduces any anxieties for anybody who hasn’t labored with individuals from different locations on the planet as a result of we perceive there’s a cultural bias that exists for most individuals. A method we’re confronting this in design is by beginning a nonprofit referred to as the Diseño a Futuro. It’s a program we’re going to run in Europe that gives free design training and showcases what profession alternatives are attainable. Offering free design training goes to be a extremely massive a part of bringing extra range into design.

What recommendation would you give to aspiring designers and entrepreneurs?

Issues don’t must be good. After I began off, I used to be so nervous since you look on-line and also you see numerous celeb designers and other people posting lovely work. Then you definitely’re in Figma struggling to make a button and it’s not trying as refined as another person’s. I spotted that at each stage of my profession I used to be nonetheless capable of assist somebody. Possibly I didn’t have the laborious abilities, however I had the delicate abilities to translate, perceive, and hear, so I simply put extra effort and time. Even should you’re not the perfect in all of the know-how, there are nonetheless so many alternatives on the market so that you can succeed. It could really feel overwhelming to try to create one thing that’s completely different, however don’t be afraid to make errors. All of your expertise, precisely the place you might be at present, is sufficient to construct one thing distinctive and delightful.


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