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“If you don’t get the design right, nothing else matters” – Path CEO Dave Morin on business, books and Berlin’s startup scene

Charmaine Li 2013-02-07 1

Dave Morin profile

Dave Morin is no stranger to the tech startup scene – he is the CEO and co-founder of “modern journal” and private social network Path, a director at Eventbrite and mentor at TechStars. Additionally, he has invested in several companies such as Silvercar, Behance and Tripbirds.

Prior to Path, Morin worked as a senior platform manager at Facebook and held a marketing gig at Apple. He was also named as one of Business Insider’s 50 Early Stage Investors in Silicon Valley You Need To Know last year and featured in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs of 2011.

Here we ask the seasoned entrepreneur about Path’s “design first” approach, must-read books and his thoughts on the Berlin startup scene…

What inspired or motivated you to create Path?

Several years ago, I realised that I wasn’t using Facebook to communicate with my then-girlfriend (now wife), my mum or my sister. I wanted to create a network where people could interact on a daily basis with those who really matter to them.

So Path was born out of my desire – and my co-founder, Dustin Mierau – to use technology to bring people closer together.

Why is design thinking so important to Path? How do you think startups should approach design?

PathWe approach everything from a “design first” perspective because if you don’t get the design right, nothing else matters.

Great design fades into the background and enables users to experience your product the way you intend. It’s extremely difficult to do simple, contextual design well, but if you make it a priority, you’ll see huge benefits in terms of user engagement.

Do you also keep a traditional, written journal for yourself?

I use Path as my traditional journal. I’ll also jot down designs and product info in a Moleskin just to help get ideas in my head sketched onto paper.

What is the biggest lesson you learned from building a business?

Ignore the naysayers – when we launched Path in 2010, people didn’t think there would be a demand for a social network other than Facebook. We felt very strongly that people were craving a smaller network designed to share their everyday lives – a quickly snapped photo, the book they’re reading or what neighbourhood they’re in.

It turns out we were right. We have more than six million users with over three billion moments shared and we’re growing each and every day.

Have you ever been to Berlin? What are your thoughts on its tech startup scene?

Yes, I had the opportunity to travel to Berlin and meet with a few entrepreneurs. There’s a huge amount of engineering talent in Berlin, so I hope the startup scene there continues to grow. I’m also very inspired by German design. Berlin is certainly home to lots of inspiration and design enthusiasts.

How do you get “in the zone” and stay focused when working?

My ideal work location is on a mountain. It’s much easier to stay focused with the peacefulness and serene views.

What are three must-read books you would recommend to an entrepreneur?

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

What are some apps or startups that you are excited about right now?

I’ve been trying out an app called Mailbox which will be released soon. It helps me keep my mailbox at zero. And, of course, I’m incredibly impressed by my wife, Brit Morin, and everything she’s accomplishing with her company, Brit + Co.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Have the hard conversations – they’re worth it in the long-run.

Image credit: books – flickr user See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

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“Start as a thinker and become a creator”: General Assembly’s 26-year-old founder talks 21st-century education
Zach Sims from Codecademy – the 22-year-old CEO who wants to “build the educational experience the Internet deserves”

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