The next step is for me to recruit a co-founder as a designer. I figured I would first start by contacting people on LinkedIN that are designers but not pitching to them and just asking for a cup of coffee to meet up and talk about a concept. How would you recommend I establish relationships with senior designers to reach jr. designers.
You are right about starting from LinkedIn. But who would you target??
Its not easy to see each and every profile in LinkedIn and there you are likely to miss the trick. You need a specialist who can mine all relevant people from LinkedIn based on location, industry, etc and share their profile for you to contact them personally and take the discussion forward. I am sure you will get results if your reach out to the right person.
Should you need any help, contact me asap..
As a designer and manager who has actively recruited designers for over 10 years, I get asked to connect people with design talent often.
Starting on Linkedin might seem a bit spammy to designers you don't know. People's time is valuable, so I wouldn't expect most seasoned designers to jump up to meet you for coffee unless you have a pre existing relationship – or your idea is really *that good.*
How do you meet designers then? Ask your IRL network – coworkers, friends, family. Most people know a designer and you'll get referrals, but your job is to find someone who's a fit for you. You will want to filter out designers in the broader sense: keep to product and UX designers (as I'm assuming your product is mostly digital.) You can also post on job boards like Dribbble, Angelist, Unicorn Hunt, etc, but start with people you know and are close to you.
Generally, great designers are compelled to work on projects that will allow them to design solutions that are their best work yet. Start out by getting them hooked on your idea and then start to shape out how you might work together.
To respond to your question of senior vs junior, it would help to know your motivation: is this monetary/equity based? I would forget about level at this point and find someone who:
1. Has the nature of the work you're looking for in their portfolio or a strong conviction to create like work
2. Feels like a cultural fit with you
3. Believes in the concept itself
I'm happy to follow up with a call if you'd like to talk more. It would help a ton to know more about you. Are you a developer? Idea person? Marketer? I can frame out an ideal way to find your cofounder with a bit more information.
Been a designer and hired them for 10 years.
Design co-founder – very smart move.
Dribbble is also a good place to look. Startup weekends. Related meetups. http://founderdating.com/ and similar networks.
Designers are in high demand now – this is not to be underestimated – even the best cos with sexy design and tons of $$$ find it near-impossible to compete right now. Its a design startup bubble.
I mention this because, assuming you don't meet the above criteria, you'll have to present the opportunity the right way. You want communicate that your problem space is really innovative / greenfield and how important design / ux thinking is to your success. And how much influence, control, autonomy the designer will have on the product and business.
Happy to answer more questions.