Last fall, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), the VC mega firm whose portfolio includes Valley giants like Amazon and Google as well as big-name startups like Nest, Flipboard, and Square, announced a new program: a design fellowship that would pair promising student designers with some of its portfolio companies for a plum summer internship. Here are the first 12 selected.
The fellows, the firm mentions, were culled from nearly 2,000 applicants. Here are the designers that made the cut, along with the schools they hail from and the companies they’ll be spending the summer with:
- Viraj Bindra, Stanford — Nest
- Zachary Hamed, Harvard — Jawbone
- Louis Harboe, University of Chicago Lab School — Square
- Kai Kight, Stanford — Shopkick
- Jocelyn Lui, Rochester Institute of Design — Luvocracy
- Amrit Mazumder, Rhode Island School of Design — Flipboard
- Alex Moffit, Yale — Jawbone
- Aaron Otani, IIT Institute of Design — Opower
- Matt Safian, Connecticut College — Luvocracy
- Zachary Schiller, Yale — Square
- Heather Tompkins, Academy of Art University — Klout
- Willa Tracosas, School of Visual Arts — Twitter
The 12 design fellows come alongside of a new class of 35 engineering fellows, but the program’s very existence is evidence of a greater trend in the industry—an increasing recognition of the importance of recruiting not just engineers but young designers, too.
Mike Abbott, a general partner at KPCB, acknowledged this new landscape when we announced the fellowship last November. "You go back 20 years ago—who designs products? It’s basically engineers," Abbott says. "With tools today, a designer can get pretty far into building a prototype. Can designers start companies? I think the answer is yes." After the summer, these dozen might have a good head start.