For the past year or so, I’ve noticed a pattern among new founders. The most inspiring entrepreneurs--with the most beautiful and engaging initial products--all had something in common. They were designers turned entrepreneurs; some were UI designers, some were physical product designers. All had an intense passion for making the user experience addictive and valuable. Many were thinking about transitioning their project to a full-time effort, but they were looking for a path, a way to make the leap to entrepreneurship. Today we announced the creation of the NEA Studio to help these entrepreneurs grow their side projects into full-fledged new ventures.
As a past product designer, I have to admit I’m biased to pay special attention to designers. I believe it’s the perspective of these entrepreneurs that leads to real changes in consumer behavior; the type of change that introduces the groundwork for new web, mobile or interactive platforms to be built in the consumer (and increasingly, the enterprise) spaces. We’re interested in encouraging these designer founders to start companies that can change the world, and we want to help as they start thinking about putting their plans in place.
The NEA Studio is a place where designer founders can take their prototype to product and more importantly, their nascent idea to a grand vision. The exact format and details can be found here. Each week, we’ll have various advisors meet with the entrepreneurs. They will also receive dedicated weekly attention of investors at NEA who are willing to open their networks and to devote expertise and attention to the designers’ projects.
This is a new effort for NEA. This is the first time we’ve created a program to work with entrepreneurs in a formal way before they raised seed or series A capital, and we’re excited to start the NEA Studio for this reason. We’re starting this in NYC because this is where we heard the most from designer founders, but we’re open to considering other cities in the future. We’re experimenting and having a great time doing so thus far.