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Aspire360

Overview

Aspire360 is a web-based application that allows founders and venture capitalists to assess the growth status of startups. It is a centralized hub of data that allows founders to consistently take steps towards improving their startups. Moreover, it helps venture capitalists make decisions about which startups to invest in by relying on objective criteria.

Aspire360 worked in collaboration with the Columbia Build Lab, a network of graduate MBA students and undergrad software developers and designers that complete an MVP within the Spring 2021 academic semester.

Lead Product Designer

My Role

Figma

Two project managers, one junior product designer

Primary Tool

Team

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The Problem

Previously, Aspire360 relied on multiple platforms to connect founders, venture capitalists, and coaches to the appropriate resources. They lacked a single, consolidated application that points to all the resources the user would need, such as assessments, dashboards, and search portals for startups.

The Goal

  1. Create a consolidated online network for founders and venture capitalists to assess and search for startups
     

  2. Design interactive assessments that are user-friendly for early-stage startup founders

Project's Scope

For the scope of this portfolio, I will feature parts that comprise the dashboard features for the two user personas: (1) the startup's founder/CEO and (2) the venture capitalist. Additional designs that aren't included here include the full user flows for two assessments, login procedure, and signup procedure.

User Personas

Amanda Thomas

32 • Startup Founder • NYC

Amanda is the CEO and founder of Kooks, a tech startup that connects small local restaurants in NYC. She has experience running a restaurant from a young age and knows the ins and outs of the industry. However, this is her first time creating a startup and most of her knowledge in this area comes from independent research online. She is looking to get real feedback on her progress, as well as regular coaching to guide her in the process of running a successful startup. 

Jack Stern

55 • Venture Capitalist • NYC

Jack is a venture capitalist with a past history of making investments in fintech companies. Now, he's interested in funding startups from different industries, such as real estate and transportation. However, he isn't very familiar with these industries and is struggling to find the right companies to invest in. Sadly, prior meetings with startups were unsuccessful. He's keen on finding an easily accessible tool that allows him to narrow down his specific criteria for a pool of worthy candidates.

Organizing Content

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Preliminary Sketches

Original Mockups

Founder Dashboard

Venture Capitalist Dashboard

Key Concerns

  1. How can we ensure that data sharing conditions are adhered to between the founder and venture capitalist? What happens if one of the party's conditions change midway through this user flow?

    1. Data sharing: mechanism by which the founder shares their assessment results with the VC and the VC shares specific information about previous funding ventures and current interests with the founder.
       

  2. How can founders view previous assessment results while they're retaking an assessment?
     

  3. How can founders view and sort both current and previous objectives from their dashboard?

User Flow: Data Sharing

A primary key concern was how to ensure data sharing between the founder and VC would transpire in a safe way that adheres to everyone's agreed-upon terms. The following flow is one proposal of ensuring so. If there's a breach in the terms, the flow will cancel out and both users will have to restart. 

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Note: the terms that the VC and Founder read (i.e. orange - user action) are the generic descriptions from the Data Sharing checkboxes. The Aspire360 system should hold specific sensitive data until both parties agree to the terms.

Mockups: Viewing Saved Data

To address the last two key concerns, founders will be able to access previous assessment results and all objectives in a tabular form.

Prototypes

Below is a sample prototype of the founder dashboard. There are also animations of the messaging flow initiated by venture capitalists, as well as the Startup Search Portal.

Founder Dashboard

Reflections

This process has been a major learning experience in my design journey. I had the opportunity to  implement many types of user flows, from messaging systems to search boards. It also challenged me to create a unified design that's visually appealing to users from all occupational backgrounds, while simplifying user flows that carry sensitive information, such as data sharing. This experience has also been instrumental in the way I've carried myself as a designer in a team dynamic. I found myself advocating for user flows that ensure safety and simplicity for the user, even if it complicated the original flows proposed by project managers. In all, I'm glad to have been able to lead this in collaboration with other students who are aiming to make the startup space more accessible to new entrepreneurs.