Meet Ben Wasserman (Graphic Design 2015): KPCB Fellow

KPCB fellow Ben Wasserman at Flipboard in Palo Alto

“I didn’t know that it would lead to one of the most successful and exciting summers of my life,” says Ben Wasserman (Graphic Design 2015), referring to his offer letter from Flipboard, a Palo Alto-based startup, in late spring confirming his acceptance to the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Fellows Program.

Wasserman was one of only 11 applicants (out of 2,500) accepted to the design fellowship program, which is led by design and technology pioneer John Meada. Applications come in from more than 200 universities across the Unites States.

Fellows attend private events hosted by portfolio companies, where they meet talented engineering and design luminaries from across Silicon Valley. Coverage of the program has been included in FastCompanyTechCrunchBusiness InsiderInc. and Gigaom

KPCB partners with some of the brightest entrepreneurs to turn disruptive ideas into world-changing businesses. The firm has helped build pioneering companies like Amazon, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Nest, and Twitter.

Flipboard: Company & App

Wasserman was assigned to Flipboard as part of the KPCB Fellows Program. He describes the company as "small enough to allow significant in-office interaction including with Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, yet large enough to offer such benefits as readily available food, compensated travel, amazing production capabilities, and yes -- a comfortable paycheck."

Flipboard makes an app that allows users to create their own personal magazine, curating, collecting, and sharing stories and content from every avenue of the Web.

“As a KPCB fellow,” says Wasserman, “there are a number of events and perks including special lectures at many of their partner companies, incredible face time with Bay Area CEOs and creatives from almost every environment, awesome intern events like sailing, kayaking, paintballing, and more, and an exclusive KPCB mentor, separate from the assigned mentors.

“All of this, however, comes second to the work that I was able to do at Flipboard, and the impact that I was able to make and be a part of, even as an intern.

Brand Design Intern

As a brand design intern, Wasserman mainly worked on internal projects ranging from designing the identity for Flipboard’s first hack-a-thon to creating many of the elements for the new hire onboarding kits including a beautiful welcome booklet, T-shirt, sticker sheet, and other fancy swag.

“There is something really special about being able to work in a startup environment, and still make bad-ass, traditional and engaging graphic design work.

“My two mentors, Byron Parr (formerly with Wolff Olins, IDEO, and MAC cosmetics as design director) and Ashleigh Maule-Ffinch (previously with Futerra & Hattery) played a large role, giving me the projects and supporting, inspiring, and pushing me along the way."

Faculty Influences

“Throughout the internship, however," Wasserman admits, "I believe they were most impressed with the level of training I had received, which in many ways, I credit entirely to CCA.

"Throughout each project, it was if I were channeling the guidance of all of my former professors:

  • Katie Barcelona stressing the importance of exploration and the ability to sell a concept both verbally and visually
  • Rob Hugel reminding me that it’s important to care about the detail -- "even if it’s only you who notices it"
  • Mark Fox’s words around the importance of using your hands
  • Jon Sueda’s advice to take inspiration from the past, but make work that reflects the present

"While I cannot write each lesson, each sentiment shared with me, or each lesson learned, I can, however, attest to the power of CCA’s faculty members, and their ability make a transformative impact on each and every student."

College, Career & Certainty

"I feel my generation of designers has more opportunities than ever before," Wasserman asserts. "With more opportunities, come more decisions. The age-old question of What are you going to do with your life/career? is now more complex than ever -- even though I’ve accepted graphic design as my career path.

"With questions like Will I go into tech? or Should I pursue a job at a studio or consultancy? thinking about the future, while extremely exciting, can be equally daunting and difficult. Yet regardless of where I end up, with the training and connections I have received at CCA, I am fully capable of excelling in either environment."

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