So you think you can design

The ease of starting an online business or creating a mobile app has empowered individuals around the world to become entrepreneurs.  As a result, there are A Lot of internet startups and new apps, and more continue to emerge every day.  But what we are seeing from the ones that survive are not just a unique idea or business model, convenience of service, better and sustainable margins, but also innovative design that creates an enjoyable and engaging experience for the user.

Great ideas must be communicated through great design.

With increasing emphasis on design today (and really everyday!), I think it’s important to revisit the design framework laid out by Dieter Rams.

What is “Good Design”

  1. Innovative
  2. Makes a Product Useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Makes a Product Understandable
  5. Unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long-Lasting
  8. Thorough Down to the Last Detail
  9. Environmentally Friendly
  10. As Little Design as Possible


In my recent Never Enough Time post, I discuss the importance of design and review features for calendar systems and apps.  I’ve also discussed the importance of design and the qualities of good design in past posts such as Shop A Swag.

Invest in People

I believe in investing in people.  When I was in college actively searching for internships and a full-time job, I only wished for one thing: someone to invest in my potential and believe that if given the opportunity, I will succeed.

We are all startups. We have plans to succeed, we have visions and dreams, we face unexpected challenges that change our course, we sometimes fail and we will require the help of others to succeed.

In my junior year of college, I booked a trip to New York in hopes to meet someone that would be willing to mentor me and help me land a job in my dream city.  I reached out to alumni through e-mails, letters and phone calls, asking them to meet with me.  I was able to only land a handful of meetings, but I was determined to meet more when I arrived.  From the day I arrived in NY, I was jumping in and out of cabs and subways, and running around in my heels to make it to my meetings.  The experience was exhilarating but also terrifying.  With each meeting, I learned more about myself and what I wanted because I gained industry knowledge through conversations, I learned how the companies were structured, and I was able to see the culture and jobs that were masked behind the prestigious logos and tall buildings.  I found out what I didn’t know and what I needed to know to succeed in the industry.  I realized that this was what I really came to New York for.  I was referred to more individuals through my existing meetings and even ended up extending my flight last second to meet with a few more individuals.  It was a life-changing experience and one that I will always thank myself for.

I was determined to share this experience with others and so I founded BrightEyes in my last year of college.  I am very excited to share that last Sunday, we completed our second BrightEyes Study Tour.  This year’s Study Tour was focused on the startup and venture capital industries.  We selected 5 student entrepreneurs from UC San Diego to travel to San Francisco and Silicon Valley for 4 days to meet with industry professionals and tour startups and VC’s.

You can read about the trip on the BrightEyes Blog.



Finding Value in Idle Assets

As a result of new marketplaces, platforms and services, owners are now able to recover value in some of their idle assets.  I will keep adding to this list over time but here’s some to start.  I observe that people are starting to lose sentimental value in ownership and that the barrier to entry of needing to purchase for usage is diminishing.  As such, we are seeing growing emphasis on usage and efficiency by the consumer.  The following list illustrates this phenomenon:

  • Homes – Airbnb, OneFineStay, HomeAway
  • Cars – Lyft, Sidecar
  • Art – Artspace, ARTtwo50, Artfinder, Creative Resale
  • Time – Monetize extra time w/ service businesses like Task Rabbit or use extra time to learn w/ Khan Academy,, edX, etc.
  • Ideas – SideProjectors, Hashtaag
  • Money – (extra $$ to invest) Lending Club, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub, Razoo, wefunder, Common Bond, equity crowdfunding platforms (too many)
  • Books – Amazon, eBay, Bookbyte, (too many)
  • Love? – Girlfriends are not to be left idle!!! But fill your dating schedule with Tinder, OkCupid, Grouper,…
  • Musical Instruments – Reverb, MusiciansHub
  • Crafts/Designs – Etsy, Shapeways, Thingiverse, Cubify, GrabCAD, Mixee Labs, Sketchfab,…
  • Clothes – Too many…but Poshmark, Vaunte, The RealReal, see more in my previous post about online/mobile consignment
  • 3D Printers – 3D Hubs, Maker6
  • Manufacturing/industrial equipment – Asseta
  • Recipes – Kitchensurfing, Yummly, Foodily, Tastnotes,, BigOven,…
  • Sample Products – Birchbox, Beauty Army
  • Alcohol – The Box Noir
  • Venue spaces – Storefront, Eventup, eVenue
  • Old electronics – Craigslist, eBay, Glyde, Gazelle
  • Furniture – One Kings Lane, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Chairish
  • RV’s/Trailers –, PureRV, Wonderide
  • Coins – Coinstar

To be continued…

NYE 2013: Self-Reflect, Learn, Remind & Take Action.

I was hesitant to write this post as I realize I’m about to share more from my heart than from my head.  Only my very first post was a personal post…But I think my readers deserve to get to know me a little better.

2013 was my first full year outside of California.  It wasn’t easy being so far away from friends and family, and I found myself searching for any excuse to visit home (frequent flight deals made it too easy!).  But don’t get me wrong, I Love New York and don’t have any regrets about the day I said yes to the job that would fly me to the other coast.  I’ve learned to not only adapt but also embrace the density of the city, the constant energy in the streets, the intimidating tall buildings, the always-crowded restaurants and lounges, the rush on the subways, and even the snow (but more so because the humid summers are so much worse..).  I also love that the east coast brings me so much closer to Europe, where most of my 2014 travels will be planned!  And I have to share that I am now able to walk numerous blocks in high heels (my Rainbows have been a little idle).

It’s been a tough but very fun year trying to balance my full-time job as a valuation analyst with my new blog and increased involvement in the NY tech community.  I love the challenge.  It fuels me and makes me feel alive.

If you’ve been following my recent tweets, you will notice a number of mentions about 3D Hubs, a collaborative platform for 3D printer owners and 3D makers (Check them out!).  I’ve been assisting the 3D Hubs US team in their efforts to build out their US presence and some of you may have seen my blog post for their new Designer Series on Francis Bitonti (more to comeJ!).  Looking back, I feel very fortunate to have come across these opportunities.  But I am even more grateful for the friends I’ve made along the way this past year.  Each new friend opened my mind and eyes a little more, taught me something new, helped me find my passion and gave me the confidence to take risks as I pursue my passions.  To my new friends, if you’re reading this, thank you.

Looking forward, I hope to foster both the old and new relationships and grow with them.  Relationships are hard to maintain in our busy schedules, and I would argue that friendship can sometimes be more easily lost than gained without constant effort, especially as we get older because new priorities emerge.  As such, my first new year’s resolution is to always be connecting (My A-B-C) with family, friends and even acquaintances.  This also encompasses connecting with new individuals as well.  I believe often times the most powerful conversations we have are with strangers because the new stories and information exchanged help us discover something about ourselves and the world in that very moment.

My second resolution is to take more risks.  Looking back on 2013, I’ve realized I am more risk averse than I believed myself to be.  Today, twenty-somethings are more focused on getting ahead in their careers early on and establishing a stable income after a few years of work.  Financial instability is not as acceptable as it was in previous generations as education and resources are more readily available for our generation (we have the benefit of both online and offline learning tools), preparing us better to attain a job opportunity.  But we have to recognize the world is taking more risks on our generation and our ideas.  The most recent investments in what may have initially appeared as a crazy idea (well, I still think Snapchat is crazy…) was a door to endless opportunities for development in science, health, finance, education, human interaction and so much more.  Not sure where my first risky step will be, but I promise you it will be towards something I am passionate about and that I believe will change and improve people’s lives, and not driven by financial incentives.

My third resolution is to continue to be forever young.  There are some things you can only do when you’re young and I plan to not miss out.  I travelled a lot in 2013 and I intend to do that again!  Travel is a beautiful experience to me.  It is the perfect combination of isolation and constant interaction, a discovery process both within and around us.  I also challenge myself to be more spontaneous, something I believe is a behavior of the youth and will keep us on our toes.  Sometimes, too much thinking holds us back from a great opportunity!  As one professor in college once advised me, “Just do it, Tiffany!  Head down and go for it!”  One of the best advices I’ve ever gotten.

And some final thoughts and goals…

A year from today, I hope to continue to share interesting blog posts with my family, friends and readers.  I admire individuals who have been blogging for many years.  Consistent posts aren’t easy and I found that out after only 4 months!

A year from today, I hope to be doing more of what I love.

A year from today, I wish to still not have any regrets because I never didn’t “Just Do It”.

Happy New Year, Friends!