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Hack To Start
episode 97

Khoi Vinh

Principal designer at @adobe, blogger @subtraction

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Khoi Vinh is the Director of Product Design, Mobile at Adobe. With a background in graphic design, Khoi really got into his career as a product designer with the New York Times after several successful years as the co-founder of his own design firm. He then left and launched Mixel, a new type of creative app for the iPad. However, without as much traction as they needed to keep operating independently, Khoi and his co-founder managed to get the app and team acquired by Etsy. After the acquisition, Khoi left Etsy after a few months to continue learning and experimenting with technology - specifically around how people create on different devices and on the go. He’s now helping to lead the creation of a new generation of creative apps, for new technologies and hardware like the iPad pro at Adobe. Khoi joins us to share his story, some of the challenges around running your own company, what it’s like working at Adobe, how he thinks about the intersection of tech, design and creativity, how he’s approaching bringing startup energy to the team, much more!

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about Khoi.
  • Learn more about how Khoi approaches product design.
  • Learn more about how Khoi thinks about the future of work and creativity.
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Khoi Vinh is the Director of Product Design, Mobile at Adobe.

With a background in graphic design, Khoi really got into his career as a product designer with the New York Times after several successful years as the co-founder of his own design firm.

He then left and launched Mixel, a new type of creative app for the iPad.

However, without as much traction as they needed to keep operating independently, Khoi and his co-founder managed to get the app and team acquired by Etsy.

After the acquisition, Khoi left Etsy after a few months to continue learning and experimenting with technology - specifically around how people create on different devices and on the go.

He’s now helping to lead the creation of a new generation of creative apps, for new technologies and hardware like the iPad pro at Adobe.

Khoi joins us to share his story, some of the challenges around running your own company, what it’s like working at Adobe, how he thinks about the intersection of tech, design and creativity, how he’s approaching bringing startup energy to the team, much more!


What You'll Learn In This Episode

  • How Khoi got into graphic design and tech.
  • How Khoi approaches product design.
  • What it was like launching his own agency, then launching a tech startup.
  • How Khoi thinks about the future of work and creativity on touch devices.
  • How Khoi is bringing startup energy to the teams at Adobe.
  • And more!

Some Of The Questions We Ask

2:17
Where are you from and what did you study?

3:34
So how did your passion for entrepreneurship develop?

4:25
How did your career begin? What were some of your first few jobs?

5:58
Can you tell us how you created the opportunity to join the New York Times as the Design Director?

7:26
What were some of the biggest lessons that came out of that experience?

8:34
You were then the co-founder & CEO of Mixel. What was Mixel and what motivated you to launch it?

10:24
Mixel was then acquired by Etsy. What was this process like for you?

13:17
Today, you’re the Director of Product Design, Mobile at Adobe. How did the opportunity to work at Adobe come up?

18:19
What’s your day-to-day role as Director of Product Design like? How are you trying to instill or create a startup culture and energy within teams like yours?

23:23
Are there any cool devices you’ve had a chance to play around with lately?

25:25
Any recommendations on some great content that you’ve come across lately?

26:47
Any last thoughts or personal mottos that you live by that you think others should know about?


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Khoi Vinh on Twitter
Khoi Vinh on the web
Adobe on Twitter
Adobe on the web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

Devices, Apps, and Books

Adobe Comp CC
My Tablet Has Stickers

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