Pick a major tech company today and chances are you'll be able to connect it and universities. Be it bringing founders together, or founders first conceiving the idea while at university, these grounds have been prime startup territory.

Knowing this, campus incubators have sprouted up on university campuses across the country with the hope of kickstarting the next Apple, Facebook, or Google. As we think of these companies, we attribute the success of these companies to the people who build it and not whether resources were available to them.


Caleb Tan

Gwen Zhang

Susan Zheng


September - December 2019


UX Designer

tools & methods



Surveys & Interviews

Usability Testing


Conducting research with university startup founders we learned of the challenges surrounding the key piece of the puzzle – the people. Seeing a variety of experiences, we carried out affinity diagramming to pick out emergent themes.

A short summary of finding 1, multiple advertisements.A short summary of finding 2, waning commitment.A short summary of finding 3, resource differences.A short summary of finding 4, location challenges.

TLDR: Creating listings on multiple sites and commitment drop-offs cause major issues for university startups.

How might we centralize the recruitment process and reduce commitment drop-offs?

Before moving forward with our design question, three types of personas were created to communicate the range of university startup leader archetypes. With these personas, we were able to focus our design and diverge outward from the research findings.

Persona of university startup employee with founder-like responsibilities.Persona of university startup founder (graduate).Persona of university startup founder (undergraduate).


Graphical representation of low-fidelity user flow for founders.

Usability tests were conducted with low- and medium-fidelity prototypes. Through these sessions problematic user flows, and inconsistent and confusing wording were identified and addressed before moving up in fidelity.

Color palette


To encourage university students to choose this site over others, we chose a vibrant color palette that is unique to the muted greys, blacks, and single primary color found on conventional job boards.

Openings are displayed as seats at a table as a way to introduce game-like elements to the process, intended to encourage exploration of different industries and opportunities.

Founders can set their location preferences based on a radius or through their zip code. This limits the candidates to only those within their preferred locations.

Accountability through peer reviews is intended to emulate peer and class reviews that university students complete periodically throughout their education. We use a star-rating system similar to those on ride-sharing platforms. This incentivizes students to maintain a good working relationship.

Reflecting on my experience

Given time constraints, we had to settle for doing usability tests with our peers. While this did help us improve our wording, user flows, and layouts, we were not able to verify whether this solution was helpful to the context of university startup founders. If I had more time I would like to do usability testing with our target user group.

I would also like to explore more deeply on possible solutions. Initial thoughts are whether there are other means by which time spent recruiting for university startup founders can be reduced.