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Design leadership

As a founder, you want to create great products but your team lacks design expertise. The impact of this is that your vision is not connecting with users.

You may not yet need a permanent head of design, but engaging an experienced design leader in the interim can help to fill the gaps.

  • Figure out how to utilize design to have the most impact on the business
  • Evaluate current design needs to determine what needed to be done yesterday and what can wait
  • How to hire and assess designer(s) or the permanent head of design
  • Coach existing designers to expand and accelerate their craft
  • Train non-design team members in essential design skills such as user research, usability testing, etc.
  • Establish a design process that strengthens the collaboration among engineering, product and design
Best for
  • Early-stage startups without experienced designers
Strategic assessment

Figure out the challenges that are slowing down execution.

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Communication coaching

Resolve disagreements and focus on shipping.

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Product facilitation

Run product development to ship in weeks, not months. 

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Tina’s history as an engineer and a designer at start-ups have shaped her into a powerhouse with lots of insights to share. In addition to her research and design skillset, she has an uncanny ability to quickly assess team dynamics and identify and leverage the strengths of each team member. This ensures that ideas flow seamlessly within teams and contributes to the overall success of the project.

Lisa Peterson LinkedIn

Design Director


  1. Why do we need a head of design?

    The challenging part is not knowing what you don't know, especially in areas that is not your expertise. Getting help from an experienced design leader can help you identify what is essential right now and what can wait, helping you to prioritize and ship faster. It's also important for this person to have startup experience. Most do not understand what a startup environment requires until they've worked in one.

  2. Do we need help if we already have a designer?

    If the team has a design leader, then probably not. However, if the designer is not senior, they will likely have gaps in their knowledge and might benefit from experienced guidance to grow in their craft, adding even more value to the team.

  3. What should we look for in a designer?

    Startup teams would benefit from senior designers who are experienced in interaction design and are comfortable performing user research. While it might be tempting to hire a designer to make the UI look great, it's more important to hire a designer who can help the team figure out if the right product is being built. Be wary of the potential pitfalls that can happen.

  4. How do we evaluate design candidates?

    It takes an experienced designer to evaluate other designers—I've evaluated thousands of portfolios and hired designers who meet very specific requirements. It’s also important that the person evaluating the designer can distinguish between someone accustomed to designing in big companies versus startups. Experience in either comes with advantages and challenges. It doesn’t mean that you should only hire candidates with startup experience. With either, there might be some mental shifts that need to occur for the designer to do their best work.

  5. We've got great engineers and PMs who talk to users and our designer make the UI look great so we're good?

    This is common at startups, where a designer is a one-person design org trying to meet all design needs (and more) of the company. This can quickly lead to burnout. It also sets the precedent for designers to be cogs in the assembly line, where they create mocks from sketches by PMs to make work for engineers. As the company scales, designers might just be seen as pixel pushers, leading to Design being undervalued and underappreciated in the team culture, creating interpersonal challenges that hinder shipping quickly.

  6. Couldn't we just ask our network for advice?

    You can and you should. However, creating a solid foundation for a strong design practice to ensure that the team is building a product that users would love requires a significant amount of attention and effort more than might be available on an ad hoc basis.

More questions? Let's chat.


I had the pleasure of collaborating with Tina during a critical phase in our team's design evolution. Tina played a pivotal role in enhancing our design maturity, bringing a clear vision of what makes a successful design team. What stood out to me was Tina's emphasis on individual growth. She was keen on understanding each team member's unique qualities, ensuring that the team had a personalized career path aligned with their aspirations and company’s product goals. Her design leadership had a lasting impact on our team, shaping us for continued success.

Kyle Kim LinkedIn

Design Manager


Working with Tina was a transformative experience, particularly in terms of personal and professional growth. Through her mentorship and guidance, I gained a deeper understanding of startups and honed my abilities to deliver impactful insights.

Nora Dabbour LinkedIn

Senior User Experience Researcher


Tina played a pivotal role in my professional and personal development. She genuinely cared for each team member’s growth, and she ensured that the projects I was involved in aligned with my aspirations as a Product Designer.

Noa Kim LinkedIn

Senior Product Designer


Tina unlocked something in me. In a few short months, I’ve grown more as a designer than I ever had in my career! Tina’s mentoring approach is to steer you in directions that may not be comfortable, but ultimately manifest in that "aha moment" with a stronger solution.

Daihan Zhu LinkedIn

Product Designer


I had the pleasure of working with Tina and was consistently impressed by her project management, design leadership, and user-centric mindset. As a product design leader with a deep knowledge of best practices, Tina's expertise and dedication were invaluable to the team.

Justin Cheong LinkedIn

Senior UI/UX Designer

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