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A new system is needed for a new reality.

We have experienced various system shocks in the past year. We recognize that the system that we’ve created is broken, and we can only create our ways forward.

As part of 2021 SF Design Week’s official program, The Creator is an initiative launched by designers and venture investors to advance the discussion of POWER to challenge the status quo and demonstrate the efficacy of thoughtful creation through connecting design and venture.

This initial idea of the project was rooted six years ago when Heyu Huang and Dawn Zidonis worked together 2015 San Francisco Design Week. Our shared passion for creativity transcends our job titles, despite the fact that Dawn’s background in visual design and mine is in business and venture. Together we were fascinated by the shared vitality of design and venture and the potential of its intersection to create positive impact at scale.

I became a venture operator and investor and we have been in conversations to explore the power of design in entrepreneurship for a larger audience. After meeting more and more value-aligned creators who understand the context and value of The “in-between” Space of design and venture (shout out to Phil and Tina!), we started to put things together in The Creator to encourage a new protocol of creation especially at this moment when we are revisiting power and adapting to better reflect the world around us.

Being design-minded sets the foundation for a more thoughtful creation

At its core, design is a way to deliver deep meaning to people through experiences we craft, which requires the right intention and iterative practice. Under uncertainties, design plays a critical role in translating uncertainties into opportunities with radical listening, proactive problem-solving, empathetic inquiries, and rational optimism. Being design-minded sets the foundation for a more thoughtful approach to entrepreneurship:

    · What are we creating? What would a world look like without this?
    · Who are we creating for? Do we deeply understand their needs?
    · How do we create when approaching complexity and scale? How can we create for both individuals and organizations?
    · What are the overlooked and unforeseen consequences of creation?
    · How can we include more diverse voices to participate in the process of creation?
    · How to amplify positive feedback of creation to redistribute concentrated capital and power in the ecosystem?

As creators, we have agency over the change we want to see for our future, and now is the time.

We want to use this opportunity to create a trustworthy community for founders, creative talents, and funders to inspire, connect, and collaborate on building new systems for a more sustainable, inclusive, and delightful future.

The first part of the ongoing program: Negative Space

As the first part of our ongoing programming, we are launching Negative Space to match design-minded founders with venture investors who are committed to thoughtful creation.

Social problems that lie in the negative space are often obscured by the prominent subjects defined by the dominant ideology and narrative. If you can’t see the problems, you can’t solve them: the first task of a change is often to make the invisible visible.

Some of the spaces we are particularly excited about are:

· Tools and platforms that empower creators
· Sustainable loops for living cities
· Holistic wellness as an emerging lifestyle
· Authentic value, identity, and community

If you are a design-minded founder who’s building in the Negative Space, please apply to see if we can match you with an investor and help you leverage the power of design to succeed at scale.

Applications are now open: Apply for Negative Space

Investors in The Creator network include representatives from the following firms.


    Design-minded founders or designers who are ideating/building new ventures.

    From ideation to early growth. Investors in The Creator network are mainly dedicated to Seed, Series A, and Series B. Moreover, we are open to making selective supporting angel investments for the people we love to back early on.
    · Broaden access to products and services for the unmet needs
    · Communicate abstract topics including open-source software, data infrastructure, protocols, developer tools, and ML/AI applications to a larger audience.
    · Improve the user experience of traditional systems, including finance, enterprise, healthcare, and urban infrastructure.
    · Amplify new values, identities, interactions, and incentives structure of emerging communities
    · Revisit the relationship among humanity, environment, and technology

    We will get back to you soon.
    · If you are looking for funding, we will match you with an investor with aligned background and investment mandate.
    · If you are looking for creative talents, we love to chat and help connect talents in our network who might be a good fit.
    · If you want to connect and discuss ideas for future ventures, we love to be your authentic thought partners over the journey (no matter where it will end).

If you are a creative talent or organization, more to come

Thoughtful creation at scale is a journey of partnership. In the future, we are planning to launch a dedicated portal for creative talents who have experience in design, media, digital, and engineering to showcase and connect with venture opportunities that align with their interests and fields. If you are interested in being included in the talent portal, please apply here.

We strongly encourage people with diverse backgrounds, including people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and international communities, to contribute to the discussion and invoke the change needed in our community — more accountability, equality, and justice.

Author: Heyu Huang

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