2022 Spring Mentor

Rachel Costantino (she/her)

VP of Product & Design at Hovr (Hio)

Professional Development

Leading Design at Early Stage Startups

Startups are notorious for being fast-paced; a few people coming together to do a lot of work — early employees join for the impact they can have and to ride the rollercoaster from the beginning.

Being the only designer in an early-stage startup can come with its own steep learning curve, but you also have a unique ability to impact the company and drive the vision from the beginning. As designers, you can create a tangible vision that can sell investors, customers, and internal stakeholders on what the future can be.

The startup life for designers covers a wide range of skill-building opportunities, from working with stakeholders to setting up a design process (maybe even a loose design system).

Join VP of Product & Design Rachel Costantino as she talks through how you can work directly with different disciplines, evangelize design internally, learn how to “time travel” between vision and execution, and become more comfortable with ambiguity.

Each of your sessions will have a theme that will build into the next one. You’ll start with an overview of a topic and then collaborate on exercises that will be built into the next theme via Figma.

Virtual Sessions:
  • Zoom
Mid-Senior Levels:
  • Interested to work at or start their own startup
  • Curious about what “many hats” can mean for designers
  • Should have experience being around the development process and shipping work
  • Basic level experience in Figma, preferably
Potential Mentor Topics:
  • Getting a seat at the table: evangelizing design
  • Working with developers and business stakeholders
  • Designing for vision vs designing for execution
  • Finding a visual voice while running
  • Time traveling: designing for now vs later
  • Making time for testing and user feedback
Potential Takeaways:
  • Gain confidence in working with ambiguity
  • Learn some frameworks to work collaboratively across disciplines
  • New ideas on how/where to apply design skills
  • Demystify the day-to-day of startup life
  • Communicating the value of design early in the process (Design is not just an afterthought)

Rachel Costantino

More about Rachel Costantino

Rachel Costantino is currently the VP of Product & Design at a startup called Hovr (previously called Hio). She started her design life in graphic design as a package designer for a few years but then decided to head back to grad school. She completed her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York and eventually landed in the startup world — where she’s been for the better part of the last 5 years. Recently, she’s started guest lecturing at universities and has taken on the new role of parent.

Find Rachel on:
Linkedin | Instagram

Talk to Rachel about:

Knitting, cooking / food, whiskey, attempting to exercise / run, toddler parenting, design theory