I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Putorti, creator of elegant.ly. Jason is 29 years old and has already accomplished a great deal. I have a hunch that he lives and breathes his Steve Jobs quote above. Very inspiring.
Me: What is elegant.ly all about? How do companies and designers interact on elegant.ly.
Jason: Companies submit their pitches using the pitch form. Designers can then browse the pitches, and get in touch if they’d like. We do not allow companies to know who the designers are on the site, or otherwise reach out to them. This is a deliberate decision so working full-time designers can be empowered to see exciting new opportunities without being solicited, emailed, cold-called, etc.
Me: What are some of the companies that have posted positions for designers using elegant.ly? What types of companies can designers expect to find? What type of relationships are the companies looking for the most?
Jason: Hundreds of companies have posted, notables include Foursquare, Yelp, Massive Health, Zocdoc, zozi, Box, Sosh, and Color. The designers cover user experience design, interaction design, and visual design.
Companies are looking for full-time, and that is our focus. For freelancers, there are a lot of wonderful resources, but few sites focus on the designer who doesn’t want to be found, but wants to be in control of their career. elegant.ly treats designers like investors being pitched.
Me: How can people get started? What’s the talent agent option?
Jason: Simply apply to be a member. Legitimate designers are approved quickly, founders are not allowed into the system as to preserve a measure of privacy for the companies pitching.
Amy Jackson is our talent agent, and if a designer so chooses, he or she can contact her to have a personal interview. Amy will listen carefully to the types of things that particular designer is interested in, and make personal recommendations on which companies would be a best fit. She takes the confusion out of picking one of the companies, there are quite a few.
Me: What are you most excited about with what’s happening on elegant.ly?
Jason: The need for designers in the startup space is only getting larger, and we’ve built a system to reliably match up designers and startups, in a way that isn’t painful for the in-demand designer.
Me: What’s in-store for users in the future?
Jason: I continue to make minor improvements to the system to improve general workflow, and to further empower designers to receive updates on companies they may be interested in, but by in-large, I’ve taken the approach to elegant.ly that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The approach has been refined over the past year, and it seems to be working for both sides. We’re at nearly 3,000 designers, 1,000 pitches, and have made almost 3,000 individual connections between both sides.
Jason is Votizen’s founding product designer and leads on product vision, visual design, and brand voice. Jason was the first designer hired at Mint.com in 2007 and held the leading role until Mint’s acquisition, when he became a Designer-in-Residence for Bessemer Venture Partners. He’s an advisor and mentor for 500 Startups, SV Angel, SSE Labs, and to many startups in Silicon Valley. In January 2012 he was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for social media and mobile. He holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and was the youngest ever MFA candidate at Parsons School of Design.
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