What inspired you to start Diagram?
I started coding at a young age, hacking different websites and working on apps. This led me to building and designing my own software, but I didn’t know how to make my projects visually appealing. So I imitated designs I saw on the web and other apps, a process that continued while I studied computer science in school.
Eventually, I became a product designer by trade, but I still was drawn to the unique intersection of design and AI. Design powered by AI that could deliver a custom output for anyone was a really empowering concept. The intersection of all of my interests around software and design tooling eventually led me to launch Diagram.
Were there any key moments in your design and AI journey that prepared you for Diagram?
As a product designer, I’d work with tools like Figma, a platform which would inspire me to explore and build design tooling. Then, as a designer who knew a bit of code, I began writing plugins and snippets to automate tedious and repetitive design tasks. At this point, I’d struck a habit of finding the connections between design and code.
When GPT-3 came out in the summer of 2020, I was one of their first API beta users, and that really expanded possibilities. Once I dove into GPT-3, I was determined to figure out how tools like Figma, AI, and design could work together.
What is your team focused on these days?
We’re identifying where AI can have the highest day-to-day impact in a designer’s workflow. We see Diagram serving our users in the same way developer tools like GitHub Copilot auto-complete code with AI. Similarly, Diagram can automate the completion of a design project. We want our tools to accelerate design work and speed up the iteration process. Looking ahead, we’re building an assistive design companion to work alongside designers and help them explore ideas as well.
We want our tools to accelerate design work and speed up the iteration process. Looking ahead, we’re building an assistive design companion to work alongside designers and help them explore ideas as well.
How can designers and creators use AI to enhance their creativity?
AI can reduce tedious iterations and design processes, empowering users to think bigger with more time for creative explorations. It also allows designers to assess many different concepts to create an AI-assisted, visual canvas of options to choose from.
One great example is a tool called Magician. Designers can describe an icon in words and the feature will produce visual options. If requesting support for copywriting, Magician will produce content on your behalf.
Can you tell us why you partnered with a payments provider instead of building payments software internally?
I’m a longtime Stripe user, and very familiar with how it all works. Launching Diagram, there was never a question that we’d use Stripe to accept payments. Ten years ago, our developers might’ve worked a little harder integrating Stripe, but features like Payment Links require almost no coding at all. Stripe has made it easy to completely avoid hard payment development processes.
Stripe has made it easy to completely avoid hard payment development processes.
How does Diagram work with Stripe and where do you see the most value from this partnership?
With little to no effort, we can spin up a new subscription service on Stripe or send a payment link letting customers pay right away. Stripe’s dashboard enables us to easily manage a user’s billing experience. The dashboard is where I learn more about our users, observing the latest metrics and connecting the dots between what is or isn’t working.
When incorporating Diagram, instead of requiring a lawyer or legal team to handle the process, Stripe Atlas helped us launch our company. Stripe’s impact has been remarkable and is benefiting us for the long term.
Where do you see your partnership with Stripe evolving in the future?
We plan to build on Stripe for everything related to payments. Stripe will help us bundle multiple products into a single subscription as we explore several new features and Diagram expands. In terms of payments and running our business, I see Diagram and Stripe together for a long time.
Is there any advice you’d give founders looking to emulate Diagram’s success?
Before founding Diagram, I generally didn’t charge for the use of side projects or tools I’d created. I’d wonder if my products were living up to users’ expectations, and as a result, I hesitated to take money from customers.
It was Jeff Weinstein, a Stripe employee, who pushed us to charge for our products out of the box. We’ve iterated a lot on our pricing structure since then, but only after launching a paid tool that allowed us to gather user feedback. We were able to adjust pricing after it was seen as too expensive, or when users told us they’d be willing to pay more.
If you’re a founder, don’t be afraid to charge even a little more than you think you should. Ultimately, you’ll know whether it’ll work or not because users will give you feedback that’ll help you identify the ideal pricing. It takes some testing to find the sweet spot, but having users to pay from the start is something I highly recommend.
Stripe will help us bundle multiple products into a single subscription as we explore several new features and Diagram expands.