Building a Strong Startup and Embracing Evolution in Digital Design



Aug 03, 20234 min read


Building a Strong Startup and Embracing Evolution in Digital Design


In the fast-paced world of startups and digital design, it is essential to navigate challenges and adapt to changing times. This article explores the wisdom shared by Kevin Aluwi and Lisa Angela, two industry experts, offering valuable insights on building a successful startup and undoing toxic dogmatism in digital design. By combining their ideas, we can discover common threads and actionable advice to enhance our entrepreneurial journey and design practices.

Doing the Hard Things:

To build a great startup, it is crucial to tackle big, thorny problems head-on, even if they take more time. Kevin Aluwi emphasizes that doing the hard things is one of the most effective ways to build true defensibility. Moving fast is essential, but not at the expense of addressing significant challenges. By prioritizing the difficult tasks, you can lay a solid foundation for long-term success.

Protecting Company Principles:

Clear company principles act as a guiding framework for decision-making and enable autonomous action within your team. Kevin Aluwi stresses the importance of protecting these values to prevent a shift towards an "exception-based" culture. Failing to uphold your principles can create unintended consequences and steer your company away from its intended path. Building a company that tackles hard problems while staying true to its principles pays dividends in the long run.

The Power of Focus:

Leif Abraham's insight on focus resonates with both Kevin Aluwi and Lisa Angela. Focus doesn't mean rejecting all ideas but saying no to ones that distract from your existing business. Concentrating on a small number of high-potential products or strategies drives maximum value. By investing your time and resources where it matters most, you can achieve exceptional results. Maintaining focus should be a challenging but worthwhile endeavor.

Avoiding Organizational Debt:

Hiring the right people is crucial to avoid organizational debt. Kevin Aluwi emphasizes that bringing in someone who is only a partial fit can create numerous problems that need to be resolved eventually. Just like financial debt, the longer you delay addressing the issue, the more it grows and limits your future flexibility. It is essential to recognize the risks and make hiring decisions aligned with your company's principles and long-term goals.

The Essence of an Exceptional Brand:

In the realm of consumer business, an exceptional brand is as vital as having a superior product. Beyond offering a 10x better product, building an epic consumer business requires an emotional connection through a robust brand. This connection stems from promises, transparency, commitment, and empathy. Kevin Aluwi highlights how transparency has helped his company build trust with customers, ultimately strengthening their brand.

Undoing Toxic Dogmatism in Digital Design:

Lisa Angela sheds light on the toxic dogmatism prevalent in digital design and suggests ways to overcome it. She emphasizes the need for consensus regarding foundational education in digital design. Additionally, the industry must retire ineffective methods that fail to capture the complexity of user interactions in the 21st century. Linear flows no longer reflect reality, and designers must adapt their approaches accordingly.

Reframing Deliverables and Embracing Exploration:

Designers often focus on creating aesthetically pleasing deliverables, but Lisa Angela reminds us that they are merely evidence of the work, not the work itself. It is essential to have versions that allow for working through insights effectively. Moreover, she highlights the loss of safety and desire to explore and fail in the design industry. To foster innovation, designers must regain the freedom to experiment and embrace the possibility of failure.

Democratizing Design and Challenging Design Leaders:

Designers hold immense power in shaping perceptions and experiences. Lisa Angela emphasizes the importance of inclusivity, going beyond accessibility to create designs that fully embrace and represent diverse audiences. She urges designers to challenge the authority of well-known design leaders and actively participate in shaping the discourse and practices of the industry.

Actionable Advice:

1. Embrace the difficult tasks and challenges in your startup journey. They often lead to true defensibility and long-term success.

2. Stay focused on a small number of high-potential products or strategies that drive maximum value. Say no to distractions that don't align with your existing business.

3. Prioritize hiring the right people who align with your company's principles and long-term goals. Avoid organizational debt by addressing mismatches promptly.


By combining the wisdom of Kevin Aluwi and Lisa Angela, we gain valuable insights into building a strong startup and undoing toxic dogmatism in digital design. Embracing the hard tasks, protecting principles, staying focused, avoiding organizational debt, and nurturing an exceptional brand are essential for entrepreneurial success. Similarly, digital designers must challenge outdated practices, reframe deliverables, embrace exploration, democratize design, and actively participate in shaping the industry. By incorporating these actionable advice, we can navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and foster innovation in digital design.


  1. "The Wisdom List: Kevin Aluwi | The Generalist", (Glasp)
  2. "Undoing the Toxic Dogmatism of Digital Design | by Lisa Angela | Nov, 2020 | Medium", (Glasp)

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