April 9, 2019

Start of a new chapter

Hey fellow humans, I’m excited to share that I’m the new designer for Elo Entertainment. They’re an exciting startup in esports who make some of the best websites for stats tracking. If you’re familiar with Dotabuff or Overbuff, then you already know who they are.

Screenshot from Overbuff.comScreenshot from Overbuff.com

This is an awesome opportunity for me, as this marks the first time working on some big impact consumer products. This means I’ll be working on the design, branding, and user experience for products that are used by thousands (if not millions) of users. That’s a game-changer–and means I’ll have to rethink how I approach problems and finding the right solutions. And it’s the type of shakeup I’ve been eagerly looking for for years.

It also means I get to keep working in the gaming and esports space. Also in the data space! This is such a unique intersection of skills, but somehow I landed a job that was the perfect amount of the unfamiliar terrain with the familiar terrain.

A more open approach

One of the changes I’d like to make is be a bit more open with how I approach things. I’d love to engineer solutions that I can share, blog about the design process, and show a bit of the behind-the-scenes of working both in esports and as a designer in a fast-moving startup. This means I’ll share more work through my Twitter, Dribbble, and on my blog here, too.

That’s going to be a bit of a challenge, as this new position entails a lot of fast-moving projects that requires effort across the designer” spectrum: user experience, branding, marketing, UI design, and even a bit of frontend. Already I’m involved with launching a new product in the next few months, that needs designed, branded, and slapped together. It’s going to be a wild ride, and already I’m excited.

Yes, this is about the eighth time I’ve made the commitment to blog more. But this time I really mean it. :)

A good two years

Before looking forward to my new career at Elo, I wanted to share some highlights from working at Shadow. Shadow is a data analytics platform for esports teams. What that means is that the highest tier of competitive (those competing for millions of dollars in prizes) can use sports analytics tools (much like those available in any other professional sport) to scout opponents, analyze gameplay, and essentially use data to uncover ways to be more successful.

Shadow was the best experience I’ve had a startup to date. We grew the team from two founders to a team of sixteen full-time employees, including a small-but-kickass design team that solved some really complex problems. We grew from serving just Counter-Strike, to covering the top three esports titles. We grew to see the majority of the top competitors in CS:GO all using Shadow. It was an awesome experience, and my first experience building a profitable product from the ground-up.

I also met some of the coolest people in the industry while working on Shadow. I can say easily that some of the people I had the chance to work with were the highlight of my career at Shadow.

First of all, I was lucky to work with a long-time friend but also a brilliant developer. Chris Schetter brought me along for this ride from day one. It was great to work with someone I’ve long considered a mentor (he helped me start my shoutcasting projects from years past).

But as a designer, finding a developer who talks the same language as you, who understands your process, and creates space for a designer to make important decisions and have huge, lasting impacts–that’s hard to find. We didn’t always agree, but we always found the middle ground and the best ideas were always implemented. It’s hard to overstate just how important that relationship is.

We also got pretty good at Rocket League, so I consider that a huge win.

I had the opportunity to meet a ton of other brilliant minds along the way. This includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • Ben Steenhuisen, the mastermind behind Shadow’s Dota product, was a great developer but an even better coworker. If you wanted someone who gets data and gets Dota, Ben was the guy. He was also hilarious; he made plenty of meetings and conferences a highlight. And while he was a bit of the wildcard, he’s also the type of personality I love working with. Even if his design sensibilities were a bit, well, bad. :)

  • Greg Henry, who wore a lot of hats, but was one of the friendliest faces I met while working at Dojo. He was an early supporter of Shadow, but more importantly he was a great friend that helped me navigate working for my first German tech startup. Honestly, probably one of our biggest missteps on Shadow is not getting him into the product earlier on, where he could have made a bigger impact. We missed the boat on that one. D’oh!

  • Gareth Harry was our sales guru. Sometimes, you just work with someone who gets it. They’ve got the right connections, the right process, and the right attitude. But it goes beyond that–without him, I honestly believe Shadow would not but anywhere close to the success it was. Gareth was the perfect fit for our scrappy little team, and I’m hopeful that our paths will one day cross again.

  • The designers at Dojo were great, and offered a lot of valuable insight into making our analytic apps more approachable and consumer-friendly. I had nothing but good experiences working with Timea, Markus, and Ben. Thanks for having my back, and I’m looking forward to see what other craziness comes out of them. Be sure to check out their most recent product (a gaming AI that’s in beta): Zach.

I’m missing a lot of people–including other coworkers, players, and coaches that I met with over the years. In all honesty, I will miss everyone. But without the folks listed above, I would have definitely gone crazy at some point along the way. Thanks for making this the best job I’ve had to date.

Building new things

This is always the most exciting time for any designer. There’s new projects kicking off, and I get to bring my ideas and experiences to Elo’s extensive portfolio of gaming sites already. I’ve already started a list on stuff I want to work on in my first few months, and it keeps getting longer and longer.

The weather is warming up, I’m in a new house I just bought, and I’ve been making a lot of new connections over the past few months. Things are all swinging in the right direction; and I’m feeling reenergized and ready to kick off 2019.

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