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Designing Growth into a Series B Startup

Role: Head of Product Experience Design | Time Frame: June 2022 - Present

EXECUTION

Director Level Leadership • DesignOps • Experience Design • SaaS

ROLE

Head of Product Design

ENGAGEMENT

FTE, People Manager

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The Brief

Scaling Design for an Insurtech Startup
across Series A and B in less than a year

My first day with Federato was at their very first team onsite in June 2022. We were a team of just 13 people with a seed round and some big ideas around transforming insurance technology. Over the course of my 2 years with the company:

  • I was elevated to Head of Product Design within my first 3 months
  • I hired and built the design & research team
  • I developed a strategy to align product design with business value
  • I crafted and implemented a compelling long-term DesignOps strategy and vision that helped lead us to 2 rounds of financing in under 12 months and completely transformed the design lanuguage of the entire product during my first year


Here’s how I leaned into the opportunity to reframe and refocus the value and identity of a 2 year old startup looking to stand out in the insurtech space.

Creating a Design Vision

Collaborating closely with the VP of Design, we establish a design vision and from there, I played a pivotal role in shaping the platform’s visual design language and direction, laying the foundation for how we would later completely reimagine the user experience. This carried all the way down to establishing guidelines and templates for organizing the design team’s Figma design files. But the biggest transformation point for our fledgling design org was Initiating a project for formalizing our new design system, Athena.

Rise Athena

I wanted to get the design quality of our product aligned. The redesign started before my predecessor left, but soon thereafter, I kicked-off a design system development program that we started from scratch. Establishing clear objectives, such as improving consistency across the product, increasing efficiency for design and development, and enhancing user experience, I was able to lead a cross-functional effort to set a solid foundation for what became the Athena Design System. We launched Athena throughout the platform in Q3 2023

Rebrand Me

As I was joining the team, the company was kicking off a comprehensive brand redesign. I stepped in to lead the project, helping to define the positioning, values, and personality that the redesign should convey, ensuring it would set us apart from our peers and resonate with our target audience. Additionally, I collaborated with the Marketing Director to manage the external vendor responsible for our website redevelopment project, ensuring seamless alignment with our brand overhaul to create consistency across all touchpoints.

Grow Design

To support our rapid product development schedule toward the end of 2022, I was responsible for hiring for two roles to fill out the design team. This was a good size for our team through most of the following year and in Q3 of 23 I proposed and led the effort to add a UX Researcher to our team. I worked to create a tight-knit, bonded team culture, with rituals and processes to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, all while providing my team with more agency and less micro-management.

Business Metrics by Design

As I grew in my role I started building a strategy for identifying the design goals that would contribute to business outcomes. I set objectives to guide the team towards a focus on business drivers. The goal was to develop rituals around showing the impact of design decisions, and how they affect the business overall, for the benefit of my ICs, and to evangelize the value of design to the leadership team and the wider company.

I kicked off a program around identifying and tracking the Design Metrics and KPIs that foster business growth. With leadership and area leads, I started working to identify the metrics we want to track in Amplitude to find improvement / growth areas, and to guide product feature development. We will follow that up with research to understand the best actions to achieve those metrics.

North Star'ring Experience

Along with the leaders in Engineering and Product, we created the three legs of Radical Collaboration for Federato. As our product development and release picked up steam, we often found ourselves feeling somewhat rudderless and lacking focus when trying to decide, “what next”. And we heard it from our teams too.

What are we? Who are we? What is our value?

We needed a cohesive strategy and a way to help our teams get aligned, all the way down to understanding how their individual contributions tied into our strategy. I brought the idea of developing a north star for the company to our CEO to help get us all thinking and moving in the same direction. Turns out, we actually had a north star. But it wasn’t socialized or disseminated to the team. In fact, we quickly replaced it altogether. I led the initiative working closely with the CEO and we re-developed the North Star and established 4 lead measures that our 6 internal teams would align their efforts to for 2024.