Figma is a startup valued at more than $2 billion dollars.

Co-founder and CEO Dylan Field is a Forbes 30 under 30 list alum.

This is a story about the messy reality of building a startup and the myth of overnight success.👇
Building Figma was messy

Dylan is really open about it:
• The company idea was originally around drones
• He questioned dropping out of Brown after "the worst week of Figma"
• John Lilly passed on their seed round, saying "I just don’t think you know what you’re doing yet."
Dylan dropped out of Brown University to become a member of the Thiel Fellowship in 2012

He and co-founder Evan Wallace (Dylan's friend and former TA) began work on what started as a Drone company,

But ultimately became Figma.

From @zoink's Thiel Fellowship application:
Evan convinced Dylan not to build in the drone space

Partly because they “couldn’t come up with a drone idea that didn’t hurt people or violate their privacy.”

So what next?
They turned to a 3-D demo of a ball in a pool of water that @evanwallace built years before

It may not look like much,

But it showed that you could have real time graphics in the browser.

They figured they could use this technology to build the entire creative suite.
They started building what they called “Photoshop in the browser”

But Photoshop has tons of use cases.

So they built a series of disconnected projects:

•Poisson Blending on the CPU
•Image Cutting
•Color Lines
•Photo Editor
•and wait for it...
The team spent a week building a meme generator

Dylan calls it "the worst week of Figma."

Was it really worth dropping out of @BrownUniversity for this?
The team lacked focus

Everyone in the company had a different vision for what they were building.

Investor John Lilly passed on the Seed round.

He was honest with Dylan.

He told him, “I just don’t think you know what you’re doing yet.”
One day Dylan sat down everyone at the company to decide on a focus

They killed off several features including:
• animation
• 3D design
• photo editing
• paint

They chose interface design.
They got everyone on the same page with a shared vision and purpose

They were able to move faster.

@johnolilly eventually led the Series A.

Dylan calls him a "key force in Figma.”
The process of building a startup is never straightforward

But like Dylan said recently to @danielgross

"Life is pretty good if you're building things you find interesting.

Keep building and exploring.

You may end up in a place you never expected."

WOW this thread blew up!

If you enjoyed it, follow me for more stories about the messy realities of building a startup.
I'll share openly about the ups and downs as our small team builds

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More from @SamDeBrule

9 Apr
Ryan Gilbert works in supply chain management at a 13,000+ person company

He started a newsletter on the side to feature workspaces of creative individuals.

It's now the most beautiful newsletter on Substack.

His newsletter and a few highlights

👇 ImageImageImageImage
.@rjgilbert started "Workspaces" while many of us transitioned to WFH during the pandemic

He needed inspiration to design his workspace.

He realized he wasn't alone.

So he reached out to a few creatives he looks up to.

They responded with pictures.
Mikael Cho, co-founder/CEO @unsplash, works from the couch in his open-concept home.

He uses a pillow or book to prop up his MacBook.

He prefers to put his feet up while working for comfort and ergonomics. ImageImage
Read 16 tweets
26 Mar
1/ We grew the @usejournal blog from 0 pageviews per month in 2017 to 4,100,000 per month in 2020.

Here's what we've learned along the way 👇
2/ Embrace limitations.

we have a small team

we spend our time writing code and talking to users

a contributor-driven strategy was the only way for us to reach a huge audience quickly

now 99% of articles on our blog are written by people with no affiliation to Journal
3/ Understand what writers want.

our biggest challenge was convincing people to submit posts to our Medium publication

most writers have valuable perspectives to share, but no audience to share with

we offer them distribution for their posts
Read 8 tweets
24 Mar
1/ I'm super excited to onboard people into the @usejournal beta today!

a couple weeks ago we started rebuilding it from the ground up, this time with people like @samiur1204 in mind.

Now it's time to see a few brave souls use it 👇
2/ Journal is a research tool for creative people who hate organizing.

our goal is to give people the benefit of having their ideas organized - without doing any manual work.
3/ The beta includes 4 big pieces:

1. a chrome extension that AUTOMATICALLY saves webpages and docs you visit.

2. a personalized dashboard that organizes your content by topic, domain, and more.

here's my dashboard today:

(don't judge my links, i'm planning my wedding!)
Read 6 tweets
23 Mar
In the past 24 hours @samiur1204 and I scheduled 19 video onboarding sessions to welcome people into the @usejournal beta.


But now I'm more nervous than happy.

Here's how I work through the nerves of hearing new product feedback:
Remember the only thing worse than harsh feedback is no feedback.

In the past we took too long to get feedback

We polished areas of the product that users didn't care about.

We wound up not building enough empathy

Now before we ship something new, my inbox looks like this: Image
Look forward to confusion

We onboard everyone over Zoom to see this confusion up close.

It's painful to watch.

But we can't make improvements without it.

The more we see, the more we can improve.
Read 9 tweets
14 Aug 20
1/ Only 1% of venture-backed founders are Black.

I'm one of them.

On May 31, I sat crying next to my fiancee as she drove us from Santa Cruz to SF. I was overwhelmed by George Floyd's death and ashamed by how little I'd done to support the Black community.

That changes today.
2/ There are many Black people doing incredible work in Tech.

We need more visibility so we can be examples of what's possible for others who looks like us.

Today, let's shine a light on some of us. Image
3/ @swissbeatz is first up. Nathalie is a sales manager at Figma and an OLYMPIC RUGBY PLAYER (!!!)
Read 38 tweets

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