Design goes audio, storage and paperless at Design Driven NYC

NEW YORK--Last February 12, Design Driven NYC by First Mark Capital featured four startups, Gimlet Media, LayerVault, Paperless Post, and Squarespace at WeWork in Varick Street.


It’s a design event, but Gimlet’s Alex Blumberg talked about design of a different kind—the audio kind.  With the huge success of Serial on the iTunes podcast, Blumberg’s narrative podcast network is now also part of a growing trend--binge-watching, whether it’s watching TV and movies online or listening to stories like radio was back in style.

“We are hardwired to the power of narrative,” he said. “That is natural human desire.”

If you want to start your own podcast, Blumberg has some tips. “Pacing matters.” In his own podcasts, he likes to have something happening every 45 seconds, then giving listeners 10 to 15 seconds of reflection. “A lot of it also has to do with framing.”

Gimlet Media has received $1.5 million in funding from Betaworks, Knight Enterprise Fund and Lowercase Capital in addition to other investors. It has also raised $200,000 in an equity crowdfunding campaign.

LayerVault is a cloud-based platform for storing, discussing and presenting your designs. Founder Kelly Sutton says it’s a simple version control for designers. Pricing starts at $19 a month.

How does it work? You sync files to, other computers and teammates with the LayerVault App. Drop any design file you want to sync into your LayerVault folder.

Paperless Post, the other presenter, has gone back to the basics. It enables design of custom cards and invitations. It has raised more than $35 million in venture funding.

"We empower people to make something beautiful,” Jessica Krale said, as he explained how it works for both senders (it has 5 million) and receivers (it has 65 million), online and offline.


Already a popular choice for making it easy to create websites, Squarespace went further to promote its business with a Superbowl TV commercial. The ad shows a wordless Jeff Bridges and a link to his Squarespace site,, where he sold 15 tracks of sleeping tapes. Proceeds go to charity; which has, so far, made $2 million. Squarespace went for a strange ad instead of a conventional one.

“Know what your brand stands for. Be brave in how you tell it to the world,” said David Lee, chief creative officer who said they got the great actor through an agency.

“None of this happens without product, brand and marketing,” he added.

The company has 12,000 employees and has raised $75 million in venture funding.