11 Nov

Ahki Jason Mayden Featured in Fast Company

Ex-Nike Designer On How To Cultivate Tomorrow’s Top Creative Talent

The former lead designer on the Jordan brand, who left to build Vessyl, has landed at Accel to foster young talent from atypical places.

Detroit. Chicago. Atlanta. Minnesota. They’re not your stereotypical breeding grounds for the next star of Silicon Valley. But it’s these middle American urban markets where Jason Mayden plans to hunt for the most promising 14- to 25-year-olds who could become the next Mark Zuckerberg.

“We want to broaden the aperture on the conversation that allows us to have a presence at Stanford or Berkeley, but then show up in the middle of Bangladesh at a cricket tournament,” Mayden says. “We want to be both, and be there authentically.”

Following 13 years at Nike (where he worked on the designs of everything from Nike+ to the Jordan Brand), and a year and a half at the hardware startup Mark One (best known for the smart cup Vessyl), Jason Mayden has left to join Accel Partners, the venture capital firm best known for its investments in companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Etsy, VSCO, Squarespace, Spotify, and Slack.

Mayden’s first job at Accel will be similar to that of many designers who’ve been snatched up by venture capital firms. He’ll work with the young portfolio companies to hone ideas and instill a design-forward culture, mining his own experiences at Nike. “The beauty of what I learned from my time in sports is you have a very limited amount of time to spend with the athlete to turn their [viewpoint] into a product,” he says. And he sees working with Accel’s portfolio of founders and CEOs, translating their intent into goods or services for public consumption, as parallel.