I joined Selim and Mugeeb at CreatorSpace, which was the name at the time, to help creators show the products they've built and find others who do the same.
After redesigning the whole product and talking to many early users, we noticed a problem. People had to spend a lot of effort and time to write long form posts from scratch, and didn't even get much in return because the platform was still unknown.
So we sat down and decided to pursue a different path first.
For the next four weeks, we designed and built a completely new product from scratch. It allows you to build a beautiful personal page by just pasting in all your links from around the web.
We decided to call it Bento, a nod to the grid layout of bento sushi boxes.
We received an amazing response when we launched in mid-december. People couldn't wait to try it out and use Bento as their new link-in-bio.
Because of that, we decided to double down. Mugeeb and I started work on a custom grid implementation that would serve as the foundation of the ease of use and playfulness Bento became known for.
We also added a full drag & drop experience to the mobile version of Bento which felt almost like a native app.
We had one overarching design rule at Bento:
The whole experience had to be WYSIWYG; every element on your Bento had to be directly manipulatable, without opening a separate edit menu.
This rule forced us to reduce every feature down to its essence, because the edit UI had to live right alongside the element it would manipulate, without conflicting with it.
Over the following months, we kept adding features every week that made Bento even more useful and fun:
Rich widget previews for major social media platforms. An interactive Spotify widget that could play music. A text widget. A maps widget. An auto generated open graph image that showed a simplified mini version of your Bento when sharing your link.
And every widget included fun little details, like a cursor chat bubble in the figma widget, moving clouds and flying objects in the maps widget, or a rotating vinyl record when playing the music from a spotify widget.
Over the course of a few months, Bento became the link-in-bio of choice for many familiar names from the industry.
Among them were rogie, David Hoang, Josh Miller, Greg Isenberg, Andy Budd, Andreas Storm, Jordi Bruin, Dustin Mierau, Lochie, and many others.
We were also featured in videos from famous Youtubers:
When we added the ability to add links to images, something interesting happened:
People started creating custom widget designs and distributed them to others as Figma community files. Skeuomorphic leather widgets, weather widgets, templates for "my favorite tv show" widgets - you name it.
A whole little ecosystem formed naturally around designing little images that others could use to make their Bento look great beyond the built in options.
It was amazing to witness how we must have hit the sweet spot between a valuable use case and the right creative constraints that sparked something in people and made them spend hours creating beautiful little images.
We were also lucky enough to have a whole little community of people form around Bento. People that really cared about the product and what it stood for.
Whenever we launched a new feature, there was an outpouring of love and excitement, and it became a habit to start searching for what easter egg we might have hidden this time.
I've never experienced something like this at previous companies I worked for. It was endlessly motivating to go the extra mile and make Bento as cool as possible for them.
The whole journey wouldn't have been the same without them, and they truly helped make Bento what it was.
In June 2023, just 5 months after launching Bento, we were acquired by Linktree and joined their team.
I joined Trade Republic when the team was just 25 people and have worked closely with the CEO Christian Hecker for almost three years.
Probably the most impactful out of the countless things I’ve designed was a 3-step user flow to set up an ETF savings plan.
By now, millions of people have went through this flow as their very first entry into longterm investing. It's been at the center of a newfound popularity of the stock market across Germany and Europe.
Later, I spent about a year building our web platform from scratch with a small, dedicated team of engineers.
My work ranged from getting buy-in for the product from the CEO, down to designing the navigation and layout structure, drawing all the icons myself and writing most of the copy language.
Over more than three years, I’ve witnessed a small team grow into one of the most valuable startups in Europe, learned invaluable lessons in building products with people, and figured out how to hire a team.
I’ve also formed friendships with people that’ll live on long after my time at Trade Republic.
When Apple introduced widgets to iOS in 2020, Silvan Dähn and I started working on a little app that allowed you to send pictures into a widget on your friends homescreens.
One of the core ideas was to have the widget be the center of the experience, and show things like replies and reactions right inside the widget.
It’s quite challenging to fit all this information into such a limited space while maintaining hierarchy, but it was a ton of fun.
The concept of widget photo sharing was totally unique, and we got featured in multiple publications.
In early 2022, an app called “Locket” made it to the top of the App Store charts with exactly the same concept. They have since raised over $12M from big name angel investors.
In hindsight, we should have started marketing the app on TikTok much sooner. Nontheless, it’s great to see the potential our little side project had, and how we were ahead of time.
We stopped developing Magnets further, but many of my friends and family members continue to use the app because they love being surprised by new photos from their friends when unlocking their phone.
Thanks to Priidu Zilmer, who took a chance on me so early in my career, I joined a team of experienced Designers at Wire to build a messaging app for consumers.
Over my two years at the company, I was able to lead the design on the first pieces of software I ever helped ship, including a redesigned call experience, mentions, and direct replies.
I learned about the importance of clear specs & documentation, how to prioritise features, and work with incredibly design-minded engineers to implement complex specifications.
Designing a well working markdown composer and parser, or a notification system that can easily handle a combination of direct replies, normal messages, and mute settings, was incredibly complicated and rewarding.
Wire gave me the trust I needed to prove myself as a designer, and helped me learn the things that would be critical for the next steps of my career.
The office also had a pretty cool rooftop terrace.
After posting my early design work on Dribbble, I got contacted by the folks at Splash, which led to my first gig as Product Designer.
We were working on an app to capture and share 360° photos. I prototyped tons of ideas for how to make the capture process as easy as possible, and how to display "spatial" likes and comments on an infinite photo.
I also experienced first hand how important focus is when building products from scratch.