For growth stage

Help your team design products at scale

I give designers and engineers the tools they need to build better products, ship faster, and grow.

Every great product team has three parts: product management, engineering, and design/UX.

Early on these roles are filled by founders. But after a few years companies have generally reached product/market fit, raised some capital, and grown their team.

At this point feature development tends to slow down and product quality begins to suffer—especially if that design function isn't strong. Founders have less time to spend with teams, engineers have bigger code challenges, and new hires add to the confusion.

I help these teams learn healthy design and product management habits. Afterwards they ship products faster, waste less engineering time, and make development a more peaceful, efficient process.

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Design process "in-a-box"

Adopting a few design best practices can save months of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of pain.

I teach teams the techniques I developed as a Director of Product Design: how to get in front of real users, prioritize a features based on impact, write design briefs with clear goals, run inclusive kickoff meetings, create low-fidelity prototypes, give and recieve feedback, and collaborate with engineers.

The 17-point design health checklist

17 things all great design teams do on request

The basics of a good design process

The checklist I used to create a design for a successful startup on request

One-on-one design coaching

Hiring your first couple designers can be a bumpy road, especially if they're junior or haven't worked at a high-growth statup before. I do 1:1s with designers to develop their skills and help them communicate with their team.

What designers struggle with every day

The most common designer tarpits, and mental models to get over the hump on request

How to give (and get) great design feedback

How to ask for feedback—and how to give it on request

UI Design: Common mistakes and easy fixes

The checklist I used to create a design for a successful startup on request

Building design systems

If your product is looking cluttered and coding UI is slowing you down, it's probably time for a design system. I help build basic color/type guidelines and a library of reusable UI components.

Using programatic color scales to generate UI colors

A better way to standardize colors in your design system on request

Hiring designers

Hiring designers is hard, but hiring exceptional designers is much harder. I teach companies to attract designers, source top talent, review portfolios, write evaluation criteria, run interviews, and do leveling.

What makes natural design talent

The hardest things to teach junior designers

13 ways to hire designers

What I've tried--and what worked on request

In-house design leadership

For companies with big goals and high urgency, I can serve as a temporary full-time design leader or head of product.

What design leaders actually do all day

The 13 roles of great managers on request

Just looking for help building your product?
See lean product design

What my clients say

When I started leading our company's new branding project, I immediately thought "We need Sam!"

I'm Frodo, and Sam's my Gandalf. Sam got me addicted to talking to our users and injected a powerful dose of energy and clarity into our brand story. His contributions to our workshops were the most impressive part of our project, getting reactions from our executives like: 'Yes, that's exactly it', 'You really got to the heart of who we are', and 'Oh my god, this is brilliant'.

I’m so grateful to have Sam on this project, I don’t know where I would be without him (probably pulling my hair out).If you're struggling with a big design project, my advice is this: get yourself a Sam.

Liza Pagano
Art Director, Ithaka/JSTOR

I had the chance to work with Sam as a hiring manager as I was recruiting and hiring Designers for his team at FarmLogs.He brought a level of deep thinking and reflection that made him a true hiring partner in every sense.

He was always thinking strategically about how we could improve our recruiting process and candidate experience. He was also open to experimenting and trying new ways of finding and attracting talent. At the same time, he made a conscious effort to solicit feedback and iteratively improve his own interviewing and recruiting skills.

Any team would be lucky to have him and I'd love the opportunity to work with Sam again in the future.

Lauren Davaloz
People Success Specialist, Aha!

I began reflecting on how the hell I got here, going from a scared college freshman to shipping several features at Google this summer & currently working on a high profile Microsoft AI project.

Despite being an UMSI UX student, it was ENTR 390 that taught me the most about what a career in UX might look like. It was the most well taught, high functioning and practical course I've taken at UMich. My future projects & portfolio write-ups that would later get me these dream internships were all modeled after the one I made for 390.

I know how much work you three put in this course, and I want to convey how grateful I am for it. And beyond the basic design process and projects, you three also put an emphasis on ethics, inclusivity and accessibility in design that is so often overlooked in most courses.

Dania Abdulhamid
Designer at Microsoft, Google

I worked with Sam while he consulting for a startup where I was an intern. And I don't think it's too dramatic to say that his coaching alone made my internship feel worthwhile.

He was a great coach and mentor, guiding me through different phases of the design process. As industry tools come and go, it's this type of high-level thinking that I know will serve me well for a lifetime.

Thank you Sam!!

Linde Huang

I worked with Sam very closely for a couple of years at FarmLogs. He was a really talented product designer, a very good partner to engineering, and his commitment to the product was inspirational.

One thing I admire about Sam’s approach is that he doesn’t design a solution before deeply understanding the problem domain. Before starting work on a new product, Sam starts by asking a lot of questions to understand what it is that we are trying to achieve—only then does he start designing the product. I saw many examples of Sam turning really complex problems into intuitive designs at FarmLogs.

Sam is also easy to work with and doesn’t take feedback on his work personally. Sometimes this quality is easy to overlook! He would make a great addition to any team and I recommend him highly.

Mayank Agarwal
Engineering Manager at Robinhood

How can I help?

Let's figure out how to improve quality or inspire your team.

Get in touch