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May 26, 2019
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Verified Expert Brand Designer: Milkinside

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Gleb Kuznetsov refuses to settle for less. After spending years leading product design for startups and corporate clients, Gleb started a boutique branding agency, Milkinside, that helps clients translate new technologies into useful products.

Gleb and his team of experienced creators are committed to serving the end user, which is why they love taking products from zero to launch. Their services are expensive, partly due to their expertise in product development, motion graphic design and animation, but we spoke to Gleb about why Milkinside is more than just a branding agency and how they strive to be the best.

Why Gleb created Milkinside:

“I wanted to create a team that wasn’t just an agency that companies could contract, but a partner that would support the client’s product development from beginning to end. Everything from the product narrative, product branding, product design, UI user experience, motion design, design languages, motion design languages, etc. I looked around the industry and didn’t see what I was envisioning so I created my dream company, Milkinside, in 2018.”

“Gleb has one of those rare skills that can make ordinary, plain parts of a design come to life and doing so in a beautiful and useful way. Always pushing the boundaries.” Jacob Hvid, Stockholm, Sweden, CEO and Co-founder at Abundo

On common founder mistakes:

“There are a lot of founders who believe they created useful technology and are absolutely certain people will use it. But everything is moot if users aren’t able to understand your product narrative and how it fits into their lives. Establishing a product narrative at an early stage is essential. A lot of founders will try to create a minimum viable product as soon as possible, but they aren’t thinking about the narrative, branding, the product design, and how everything comes together.”

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.


Interview with Milkinside Founder and Director of Product Design Gleb Kuznetsov

Yvonne Leow: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into the world of branding and design?

Gleb Kuznetsov: I was 10 years old when I started programming and learning different coding languages. At the age of 15, I shifted to design and became pretty passionate about what could be possible in the digital world. I worked as a product designer for 15 years before I started Milkinside. I worked for big consumer product companies across various verticals and platforms. When I was a chief design officer at a startup, I was responsible for everything from the product design, UI design, branding, advertising to producing product explainer videos.

Verified Expert Brand Designer: Phil Weiner

in Brand Designers/Brand strategy/branding/Delhi/Hiring/India/Personnel/Politics/Startups/talent/TC/Verified Experts by

As a former entrepreneur turned independent designer, Phil Weiner gets the startup life. He often describes himself as a second co-founder for his clients, unafraid of 2AM phone calls and prepping pitch decks for investors. He’s a “full stack” creative director based in Oakland, CA with a passion for tackling cultural tension. Learn more about why design runs in his blood, his branding philosophy, and more.

On his ideal client:

“There are certain values that we have to have in line. The number one value is that they don’t view their people as resources, they view them as people. If I start to get the inkling that a founder isn’t necessarily great at managing their teams and their people, empowering them or removing obstacles, it’s probably going to be difficult for us to figure out customer empathy. Number two, design is an investment, not an expense.”

“Phil has worked with us to create and shape a number of impact brands like 100% Human at Work – and hundreds of visual presentations that have inspired hundreds of entrepreneurs to do something bigger in their lives.” Jean Oelwang, London, UK, CEO, Virgin Unite

On the power of branding:

“I get to be able to shape culture because that’s what brands are able to do. You can build a really great product and introduce it into the market and that’ll have it’s own life cycle until trends change. Brands can last a lifetime. I think that’s the only way that I can make a mark on the world, even if my name isn’t on the company. If it’s contributing to the brand, I’ve scaled my potential impact in the world.”

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.


The Interview

Yvonne Leow: Tell me about your background. How did you get into design and branding?

Phil Weiner: So I actually didn’t study design. I’m self-taught designer. I come from a pretty cool line of designers. My grandfather drew the “I Love Lucy” heart and did album artwork for Motown Records, and typography. My mom’s also a graphic designer. She’s been with The Washington Post and The NY Daily News for years. She just retired.

The first thing they actually told me was “Don’t go to school for design. Go to school for business. Because if you don’t understand business, you don’t understand design.” So I went to school for econ and math. I studied design in “the streets”. I started my first company when I was 21 years old. It was an early version of Hired.com. When you don’t have any money, you have to do things yourself and be creative so I learned everything from basically failing. I know a lot about what startups are going through, whether it’s designing a pitch deck, selling a product, A/B testing, or trying to convert traffic on a webpage. I ended up selling that first company, which was a recruiting business that was based on scraping Linkedin for what we call, “The most placeable candidate.”

Verified Expert Brand Designer: Kristine Arth

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After spending a decade working at international design and branding agencies, Kristine Arth launched her own independent branding agency called Lobster Phone last April. Since then, she’s launched 22 brands under her unofficial tagline “I don’t sleep.” Lobster Phone, however, is all about creating iconic brands with bold personality, which Kristine passionately delivers to her clients. We spoke to Kristine about her branding philosophy, the story behind the name Lobster Phone, and why she loves working with founders.

On working with founders:

“My specialty is people, honestly. I don’t find that I focus in any category, field, or particular segment of an industry is my focus. My specialty is working with people and understanding their background because entrepreneurs have a very different outlook on life. They will climb that mountain at all costs, and I feel very similarly. My sign is Capricorn, I’m a goat. So I will always climb to the top of that mountain. I feel very in line with entrepreneurs in that way because I want to help them do their best work.”

“Kristine is what every person dreams of in a design partner to give your brand a soul and heart.” Julián Ríos Cantú, México City, Mexico, Co-founder and CEO, Eva Tech

On common startup mistakes:

“Entrepreneurs will come to me and say, “I want a logo, I want a campaign, I want this.” And I will say, you need a brand, you need strategy, you need a foundational promise to sell to your clients. And with that foundational brand strategy and a flexible brand, we’ll get what you want. The common mistake is to come with a solution versus coming in with the problem.”

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.


The Interview

Yvonne Leow: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into branding?

Kristine Arth: I originally thought I was going to be a ceramist. I went to school at Columbia in Chicago, and studied ceramics for about half a semester before I discovered the computer lab, and was like “Oh my God, everything is happening so fast there, this is amazing. It’s for me.” So I quickly moved into graphic design and never looked back. I started in advertising and marketing, and worked in Chicago for about 10 years at Leo Burnett, Wunderman, and then moved out to San Francisco to start fresh. Fuseproject, a top industrial design and branding agency, reached out to me, had me come in for an interview and the rest is history.

Verified Expert Brand Designer: The Working Assembly

in Brand Designers/Delhi/eCommerce/Hiring/India/Personnel/Politics/Startups/talent/TC/Verified Experts by

The Working Assembly began as a side hustle. Jolene Delisle and Lawrence O’Toole juggled full-time jobs while collaborating on projects for startup clients, and they eventually realized there was an opportunity to help companies with branding, marketing, and advertising. In the past four years, TWA has grown from a team of two to a team of twenty in NYC’s Flatiron district. We spoke with Creative Director and Partner Jolene Delisle about their start, their new initiative 24-Hour Assembly—a branding program for minority and women founders, what makes an ideal TWA client, and why she’s excited about the new frontier of experiential and immersive branding.   

On common founder mistakes:

“Clients often come to us and say, “I love the branding of this.” And we’re like, “Well, that’s not really your target. It doesn’t really make sense for you as a brand.” And I think it can be hard for founders to separate their own personal aesthetic from what is actually going to be most effective for their business.”

On TWA’s core values:

“There’s an opportunity when you start your own business to be able to pick your clients, and we started working with a lot of female-founded startups right away. Zola and TheSkimm are both led by women founders. We developed a natural passion for working with these types of companies. It helps that our team is also comprised of mostly women, which I think is really outside the norm. For us, we really focus on diversity and inclusivity. It’s a core tenet of our company and an integral part of the conversation.”

“TWA is great at collaborating, ideating, and executing brand identities. They have outstanding taste, beautiful design skills and understand the marketplace well.” Michael Wayne, LA, CEO, Kin

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.

Interview with TWA’s Creative Director and Founder Jolene Delisle

Yvonne Leow: Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What led you down this path of design and branding?

Jolene Delisle: So, I have more of a background in advertising and communications, and my founding partner, Lawrence, has a background in branding. In the beginning, we were both working full time, but we would collaborate on projects for startup clients. We eventually realized that there was a need to create branding elements before we could ever develop a marketing strategy so that became the impetus for starting Working Assembly

We’re a relatively new studio. We have about 20 people full time. We’re based in the Flatiron district in NYC. And we work with emerging and evolving brands. The emerging brands are startups. About 40% of our clients are early-stage companies that have either received some kind of angel investment or are pre-series A. Sometimes, founders come to us when they don’t even have a name yet, but they have a great idea and a core MVP. Other times, startups are growing very quickly, and we’ll build out their brand and create additional assets.

Google Cloud, McDonald’s big tech acquisition, and motivating an engineering team

in Adam Fisher/Brand Designers/CircleCI/Delhi/douglas rushkoff/Dynamic Yield/google cloud/Greenberg Traurig/India/intellectual property law/Mark Forscher/mcdonalds/Politics/TC/The Extra Crunch Daily/Thomas Kurian/Uber/Verified Experts by

Our live conference call on Google Cloud Next

Last week at its conference in San Francisco, Google Cloud unveiled a bevy of new features, and we also got to hear for the first time from its head honcho, Thomas Kurian . TechCrunch was on the scene, with enterprise editor Frederic Lardinois and enterprise reporter Ron Miller covering all aspects of this major conference.

They conducted a live conference call with Extra Crunch members last week. In case you missed it, we’ve posted the transcript for members.

New Series: The Exit (this time with Dynamic Yield)

We talk a lot at Extra Crunch about starting companies up, but how do startups exit?

Lucas Matney, one of TechCrunch’s San Francisco-based writers, is developing a new series exploring why certain companies successfully exit. In this inaugural interview, he talks with venture capitalist Adam Fisher of Bessemer about his investment in Dynamic Yield, an adtech (but not really ad-based) startup that exited to (of all places) McDonald’s for a reported $300 million.

Lucas Matney: McDonald’s certainly seems like a bit of an unexpected buyer considering the early history of the company, but at what point in the company’s life cycle did it make sense that they would want to buy this tech? Or are you still a little surprised that this is the deal that went through?

Adam Fisher: Oh, yeah, with these kind of things you have to be skeptical until you see it in writing, and even then, skeptical. You know, as a VC, I’ve seen too many deals never mature to an offer, or even after the offer it’s pulled away. I mean, the less traditional the buyer, the more worried you have to be that something strange will happen, that somebody will change their mind, that somebody will get fired, that something unrelated will happen on the macro level.

So, you know, we were obviously skeptical until there was an offer.

But it was very clear, at a certain point, that the level of engagement was so high and so immense that they were serious, that this wasn’t just an idea that popped up after the had met Dynamic Yield, that they had been thinking about making such an acquisition for quite a while beforehand.

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