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I just listened to a portion of an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, where Michael Abbott (A VC) interviewed Gentry Underwood, Founder and CEO of Mailbox. They talked about Gentry’s experience of being a first time founder. Here is a great quote:

Michael :

“We’ve talked a lot about building products and the design-centered approach that you and your team have taken. With that center of gravity being in design, talk to us a little bit about how design and engineering work within your company. And how do you get that virtuous cycle working well. Especially as your are doing these explorations and making these changes.”

Gentry :

“For us, design is this…I think often when people hear the word design they think about…making a product pretty or giving it a bit of (pnosh?)…I’m trained in this sort of human-centered design or this design thinking school that David Kelly or IDEO and the D-School has made so famous. There the term design really applies to a way of approaching problems. Its a process that one submits to where you go from a vague understanding of a problem to a very detailed understanding of a problem thats represented in a series of principles for how the problem could be made better. And you lock on to those things. And from that series of principles, you may prototype lots and lots of different solutions but you never let go of the “why” of what you are trying to solve.

“So the rest of the design process is really one of trying to iterate quickly. To minimize the cost of failure. And to make sure you can fail as often as possible before it costs to much…There is a saying in IDEO that ‘you fail early and often to succeed faster’. You prototype and brainstorm and try lots of ideas and keep them lightweight and iterate like crazy, pay a lot of attention to whats working and whats not. Don’t be afraid to question your assumptions and kill your darlings. And you just iterate forward.

“And when design is framed that way, I think its useful across the stack.”

@11:57 in the video