Introducing Kojo

Re-designing design for startups

by Tyler Nickerson

Hi! 👋 It’s great to finally meet you. You probably don’t know me – I’m Tyler. I’m a designer, developer, and entrepreneur.

I’ve exclusively worked at startups of varying sizes my entire career. In fact, my very first job was as employee #3 working at a startup out of someone’s garage!

While working at all these startups, I started to notice a few things:

  1. Not everyone is a designer.
    Design is hard, and it does take practice. If a startup doesn’t have someone who is actively thinking about the user interface (UI) and experience (UX) – I hate to say it – the business can suffer. Aesthetics and usability matter. Good design can help convert your users, increase your retention, and sell your product.
  2. Prioritizing design in a small team can be impossible.
    Unless you’re lucky enough to have a designer on the founding team, chances are no one is taking the time to exercise design thinking when crafting your core product. Startups move notoriously fast and will often settle for stop gaps, such as using pre-built UI libraries, that cause the product to not stand out.
  3. Misalignment around technical lift can result in delays.
    For larger teams that do have dedicated designers, designs can easily be produced that are either too high lift or infeasible to deliver. Not everything in Figma translates easily to code – for example, there is no easy way in CSS to specify whether a stroke should be on the outside, inside, or in the center of an element.

Given my background in both the tech industry and startups, I wanted to help address these problems.

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of Kojo Design – a design agency built for startups and technical teams. In this post, I’ll dive into what Kojo is, how it solves the problems above, and how you can get started with it.

First off, what is Kojo exactly?

Kojo is an invite-only, design-as-a-subscription service that allows teams to access unlimited design for a fixed monthly rate. If you think this model sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

Design-as-a-subscription services have taken the world by storm within the past five years with the launch of services such as DesignJoy, Kimp, and DesignPickle. How they work is simple: once you subscribe, you are given access to some kind of task board where you can make design requests, upload PRDs, and collaborate with your designer.

Most of these services, including Kojo, boast a similar set of features:

  1. Unlimited design requests, usually tackled one-or-two at a time
  2. 24-48 hour turnaround for requests
  3. The ability to pause or cancel at any time

I won’t bore you with the details on that – instead, let’s focus on what sets Kojo apart.

  1. It’s invite-only. Most other design subscriptions follow a self-service model where you give Stripe your credit card and are instantly billed for thousands of dollars. Other services force you to get on a Zoom call first. To subscribe to Kojo, you must first be accepted after filling out a short application. I want all of our clients to have the best possible experience, which means taking on the right clients at the right time.
  2. It’s one person. That’s right – by subscribing to Kojo, you’ll be working directly with me. There are other one-person agencies out there, but by controlling who gets in via our invite system, I can ensure everyone gets the attention and quality they deserve. And unlike with large agencies, what you see is what you get – there’s no need to play designer roulette and hope you get matched with someone qualified.
  3. It’s developer-first. As mentioned, I’m a designer and a developer. I’ve worked professionally on all kinds of frontend systems and know HTML, CSS, and TypeScript like the back of my hand. All of the design work I produce reflects that, making designs easy to implement and allowing teams to move faster. Plus, on the Pro tier, I’ll even build your landing pages and design system for you.
  4. It’s centralized. Kojo is one of the only design services that gives you your own designer dashboard. Inside Notion, you can manage your subscription, make design requests, receive deliverables, and contact me via text, phone, Slack, and more.

Pretty cool, huh?

Solving the Problems

Let’s quickly revisit the problems outlined in the introduction. Kojo was carefully designed to address each of them, so let’s take a look.

  1. Not everyone is a designer.
    But I am. I have personally crafted the design of products such as Linguistic, CityHop, and The Open Dictionary, so you’re in good hands. Kojo covers product design, branding, and marketing – everything you need to make your business successful.
  2. Prioritizing design in a small team can be impossible.
    By centralizing the design process and running the majority of it asynchronously, Kojo makes it easy to prioritize design without having to worry about it. Simply file design requests in Notion and get designs back – it’s that simple.
  3. Misalignment around technical lift can result in delays.
    As previously mentioned, given my extensive background as an engineer, Kojo excels in developer empathy. There’s a good chance I’m already well aware of certain technical limitations and avoid producing work that needs to be revised.

If you think there are problems I didn’t capture here and you’re wondering how Kojo can solve them, feel free to shoot me an email.

What’s Next

If this all sounds amazing and you’d love to start using Kojo, simply apply to a plan. If it seems like a fit, I’ll reach out with links to start your subscription and join your Notion workspace.

I hope we get to work together soon!

Let's make sure the next big thing is your thing.

Apply to Kojo