We’re hiring a Lead Product Designer—focused on getting more users to try RISE and improving their experience during their first few weeks. I wrote this letter to help you decide if this is the right opportunity for you. In it I share what you need to be successful, what success looks like, and challenges you’re likely to face.
If it turns out this is a fit, I believe that you will be hard-pressed to find something more meaningful and impactful for your life and career.
It will take you time to read through, but if you do, you’ll learn something new, have a clear sense of what we’re working on, and if you’ll thrive in our current environment. You won’t find traditional requirements. Mostly because this isn’t a traditional role and we’re not looking for a traditional person.
For the right person, this could be a once-in-lifetime chance to do something that matters and propels your personal and career growth further than you might imagine.
Thanks in advance for reading & sleep well,
CEO & co-founder @ Rise Science
What are we working on at Rise Science?
The short answer: we exist to give all people the energy to make the most of life.
Our current product, RISE, is mobile app designed to help everyone with a phone master their energy. We’re in the business of giving our customers energy. When we stay focused on that need, customers are happy.
It turns out that the biggest determinant of your energy levels is your sleep. However, the tools available today are focused on speciality niches. Some are trying to help you fall asleep (like Calm) and others measure every physiological asepct your sleep (like Fitbit, Whoop, & Oura). While those businesses have executed very well they’re relevant for maybe ~15% of the population.
We’ve always believed there’s a significantly larger opportunity for impact by focusing on what the vast majority of us want: more energy. We all want more energy. Just last year, consumers spent a trillion dollars on caffeine alone. A trillion dollars on a drug that gives us a short-high. We believe people want real energy. We believe that people are changing how they view their health and turning to much healthier, scientifically sound solutions.
When you’re squarely focused on the need for more energy you design a much different solution than what exists. Rather than helping you fall asleep or track your sleep with hardware, our app uses behavioral data from phone to analyze how much sleep debt you have and your circadian rhythm so you can forecast exactly how much energy you’ll have during the day and manage your energy.
It allows for some powerful use-cases:
- when your morning grogginess will end
- when to stop drinking caffeine
- when to exercise
- when you’ll be most productive
- when to eat lunch
- when to stop work and start watching Netflix
- and the best time to be sleeping
It’s taken a decade of rigorous work and research to get here. We’ve invested millions of dollars (from the investors behind Peloton, Fitbit, Spotify, Facebook, and Twitter) and have millions of nights of data from 1m+ users - from high schoolers to pro athletes, working parents to retirees - to design and build scientifically robust algorithms to help people live the best lives possible.
If you want to see it for yourself, start a free trial.
Your challenge is helping more people have confidence to give Rise a try.
In 2021 we had 1 million people install RISE. 200k started a trial. Your job is to ultimately increase the percent of folks who install that start a trial with us. To do that, you’ll need to help our new installers to feel incredibly confident RISE will help them take control of their sleep and energy.
Doing this well won’t be one of those jobs you can coast and get by. You’ll need to be ready to build. But if you put 8 hours a day of solid work, and you’re the right fit, you’ll directly improve the lives of millions of people in 2022.
Here’s why you might not be a fit:
We’ve learned our day to day environment is unique. If you feel super confident about these three areas, we should talk. If not, you won’t find success in the role:
- Customer problems start out fuzzy. About ~50% of the time there aren’t clear patterns in similar products. If you’re not an expert in collaborating with engineers and PMs to go from fuzzy to clear testable solution you’ll spin your wheels and will feel unproductive.
- You’ll need to design polished consumer experiences quickly, without a well established, robust design system. If you’re more comfortable moving fast when working from a well established, robust design system you’re going to struggle in this role. If you can’t expertly and quickly build your own sensible patterns and components for native mobile, you’ll feel behind. The impact to the business is that visual and interaction issues will show up clearly in the quant data which slows down progress.
- The area of sleep and human energy is complex. If you aren’t naturally relentless in teaching yourself, going deep on problems, digging into peer-reviewed research and books, you’ll struggle to develop useful and novel solutions. We expect our product teams to become the subject matter experts. We don’t lean on a board of advisors or internal sleep scientists to make day to day product decisions.
Company culture and stage
- Mediocre performance results in generous severance. At our size, we can only afford to keep our highly effective people. The upside of this is that you’re working with others who are performing at a really high level.
- We encourage the people making, to make the decisions. Our core philosophy is that we value great people over process and we trust you to make informed decisions.
- Progress and growth every day matters. If you struggle to unblock yourself quickly when you’re stuck, ask for help, receive constructive feedback, or aren’t extraordinarily candid, you should consider another company.
- We are building a product together. Product, design, engineering all sit at the same table, and we are all listening to the user. If you don’t find yourself inspired by non-designers or it’s difficult for you to let go of your idea, you’re not going to be happy here.
- We don’t have all the answers. If you don’t enjoy being in the uncomfortable space of not knowing and figuring out how to learn the answer, this isn’t for you.
- We avoid rules and believe in people over process. If you do your best work in a process-driven, rules-based environment and get uncomfortable that we rely on good judgement, you won’t be happy at Rise.
You’ll have every resource you need to do your best work.
You’ll be part of a dedicated empowered team thats focused on the same problem you are. That means you can maximize your time focusing on discovering the right problems to solve. And then solve it well. No other fluff. You and Kellie own the strategy and have the engineering resources to build and learn quickly. Here’s a quick run-down of who you’re working with:
- Kellie runs product management. She’ll be your partner on end-to-end shipping: strategy, customer discovery, solutions & analytics. Before Rise, Kellie was a psychology researcher in stress and emotions and led mobile app growth at Wayfair.
- Greg leads backend and decided to end his PhD in cell biology to write software. Working at a science-based company is his dream job.
- Graham leads front-end. Before falling in love with front-end, he produced gangster rap beats.
You’ll have data to learn incredibly quickly. We’ve instrumented our whole product for doing high quality research. Need 5 people that installed but didn’t start a trial to test a prototype? We can get them on zoom in 24 hours. You’ll also know how your solutions impacted customer behavior. We ship every new feature as a randomized controlled trial. This means you can see how your solution is working leading to much better and faster iterations. Lastly, you’re not starting from scratch. We know quite a bit about who these customers are and why they’re not starting trials.
Design works well at Rise. Jason, who heads our design function, has been designing interfaces professionally since 1998. He was at Rise in 2018 when it was bunch of ideas cobbled together and his work has enabled us to go from 0 to 1m+ installs last year. He’s an expert. A rare breed that has done it all. Leading big teams, being the principal designer, deep in product, deep in marketing. You get the idea. You’ll get to learn directly with him. This means there’s no problem you’ll run into that he won’t be able to guide you through. You’ll find he’s selfless, low ego and kind.
Here are the cultural reasons we love working at Rise:
- You’ll do work most days that will directly improve people’s lives. Each pixel you move, every word you type, will help more people feel better and be more productive. Each member of the team shares this daily mission. What you do each day directly contributes to the world’s health, happiness, productivity, and longevity. You’ll talk regularly with people whose lives you’ve changed.
- You’ll work with a team where human-centered design is the center of how we develop our product and business. IDEO was our first investor and I did my Master’s in Don Norman’s human-centered design program.
- You’ll collaborate with Jason, who heads design, to continue the work of developing an effective and efficient design system for use across marketing and product. As a design team of two, you’ll shape the practice at Rise Science.
- One of our core values is growth. That means every week; we’ll talk about how we can help you grow. What skills, experiences, people can help you get to your next career goal. For this role to be successful, it has to be a great big step in the right direction for your career, not just a job.
- If entrepreneurship is interesting to you, you’ll also have a front-row seat to all the company building’s ups and downs. Your work will be in front of some of the top consumer health investors and operators that backed and worked at teams at companies like Fitbit and Peloton.
- More than anything else, we realize that life is short. So even though we’re solving an unthinkably large problem, taking time for yourself and your family is essential. Without it, we don’t believe you can live your best life and do your life’s work. And of course, we’ll get your sleep in order. 😉
- Who will I report to?
- You’ll technically report to me. I’ll have hiring and firing decisions.
- Jason is the design functional lead. He’s responsible for coaching you on how to be successful at Rise, evolving our design culture, and if a tie-breaker is needed, making the final call on a conflicting decision.
- Why isn’t Jason hiring for this role since he’s head of design?
- Company building is a team sport. Jason has critical product opportunities he’s focused on and my job is maximizing his focus on that. He’ll be playing a key decision role in the interview process and of course someone you’d want to work with.
- What seniority is needed for the role?
- Language around seniority is misleading. So what’s most important is that when you read what would disqualify you, you can point to evidence of how you’d do well in our environment. Years of experience also isn’t a great metric. Jason has been doing this for 23 years. But if you’ve got 5 and you have the talent, this could be a great opportunity.
- What are the career growth paths?
- It really depends on what you want which is something I’ll work with you on. When we all do our jobs really well, it creates more opportunity for more talented people to come on board.
- We know great talent deserves to get paid well in cash and equity. We don’t share ranges at this stage because we don’t know what skills you’re coming in with and don’t want to disqualify you depending on your needs. Once we have an idea we’ll share our comp dataset with you so we see the same data. We’re not Facebook or Google but we’re confident that we’ll meet your financial needs.
- US-friendly hours are strongly preferred. We’re a 100% distributed team (most in Eastern and Central time in the US) and we keep our meetings to an absolute minimum. However, we work semi-synchronously collaborating on zoom so it’s important to have 4+ hours overlap with US eastern time.
What you’ll need to be successful:
Expertise in interaction design: You think in flows, not just static screens. You’ve been making it effortless for people to move around consumer applications for many years. Other designers respect your interaction skills and tap you for advice.
Expertise in user-centered design methods: Customer feedback is an inspiration and something you crave to keep your creative juices flowing. You use iterations to maximize your opportunities for feedback. You know what needs to be learned, how to put together a discussion guide, facilitate the session and synthesize the findings.
Good visual design fundamentals: Making the right typography choice or reworking a layout to optimize clarity is effortless for you. You know how to apply a style guide effectively but also know when to extend beyond it.
Competent writer: You’ve solved design problems with words and designed with content.
Skills and experience that separate you from your peers
- Several years of mobile design experience
- Data visualization chops
- Worked on products that design for behavior change
- Motion design experience
- Effective across a wide range of design tools
If this sounds interesting, let’s talk.
Instead of a cover letter, email me at email@example.com | Subject: ‘Lead Product Designer’ and include your answers to the questions below. We appreciate thoughtful responses, but please don’t spend more than an hour.
- Tell me why this opportunity feels right to you. What did you respond to in the letter?
- Think about your current or last job. When it’s time for me to talk with your boss what would they rate your performance 1-10? Why? What were you hired to do?
- We’d love to understand the relevant work you’ve done. If you have a tidy portfolio, feel free to send the link/pdf it will help us speed things up. If you don’t have a portfolio, you’ll need to get creative. What can you send us that would give us confidence you’ve got the relevant skills? We’ll be going deep on your work in our 2nd conversation so don’t spend too much time here.
What to expect Next
I’ll hand review what you send. I’ll respond with either “I don’t think the fit is here” or that we should move forward with the process. If we move forward, here’s the rest of the process we’ll use to learn together if this is an amazing fit for you:
- 45 min Interview: We meet over Zoom to meet each other and decide if spending more time together makes sense. Your time is valuable and we don’t want to waste it.
- 60 mins Work Review: You’ve read the job letter and what we need you to do. During this conversation I’ll ask you to walk through, in detail, how you’ve done this in a past job. I may invite a few team members to join.
- Paid Work Simulation: We’ll send over a take-home challenge that will let us simulate working together. This is designed to be similar to the type of work we do here at Rise Science. This stage should take no more than 3 hours, and we’ll both have a clear sense of how we work together by the end.
- Team Talks: At this stage we’re incredibly confident that the role will be great for you. Get to know the team you’d be working with. You’ll find time with 1-4 of your potential future team members.