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An untapped startup scene

Richmond, Virginia has a vast startup community that has led to fortune 500 companies like Car Lotz and Humanitru. But there still is a clear lack of startup market growth when compared to cities like Austin and Raleigh.


Activation Capital, a state-wide economic development authority gave us a simple assignment: Design a platform that would innovate the startup scene within the city and help reinvigorate the connections between the players within the community.

rally rva


The startup community is fragmented 

The efforts to bring together the participants in the startup scene in most cities, including Richmond, focus on the relationship of the founder and funders. Through our research, we found that Richmond doesn't have a problem with access to capital and resources but actually to talent acquisition.

Most startups know exactly what they want to do with their business but lack access to those that can help them do it.


A platform to innovate the startup scene in Richmond, VA connecting founders to local talent.





From school project to going live

This project initially began as a school project that worked along with "live clients." After our initial presentation of work, they approached us with an offer to bring us on as a team to make Rally real. My amazing team learned what it was truly like to be working with a client/developers  with clear objectives and structuring timelines. 

We are fortunate enough to continue to work with Activation Capital to lead into the launch of Rally next year.





Design System


Eight week - Live Client



Adobe Suite CC


Sharon Byun

Dennis Liu


Building a platform to innovate the startup scene in Richmond, VA


Modernize an outdated talent inquisition process

Traditional talent aquisition websites like Indeed and Ziprecruiter work primarily for businesses that are, ya know... traditional. Job listings end up being inefficient for startups because most new businesses are looking to recruit talent that can wear many different hats. 

Landing Page

The landing page gives easy access to each resource provided by Rally including a startup index, news, events and resources provided by Activation Capital. 

Once members sign up on Rally it brings them to a wizard where they can create a profile broken down into three areas: founders, talent force, and those just interested in the startup resources.

Startup Profile Page

Startups create a profile page to showcase their business. This includes information like what sector they are, employee number, benefits of working there and the needs of the company. 


Traditional job boards aren't working out for startups. Instead of listing specific jobs available this allows companies to detail a broadened overview of their needs.

Startups come in all sizes and need to be able to equally showcase themselves without being in the shadow of larger companies. Having a feature where they can simply show what skills employees will develop helps them compete.

Startup Onboarding

Quick and easy wizard that allows startups to input their details that lead into the creation of their profile pages. It also gives opportunity for companies to showcase their vision for themselves and truly speak to what they are in need of.


Startup Index

Each startup profile page is then put into an index page. This page can be accessed by both talent and funders that want to see who makes up the startup community. 

Users can use the filter to search by industry type, the type of needs/roles, and by distance.

Needs Cards

Early growth companies need talent to fill multiple roles and wear many hats. Having "needs cards" allow the founders to list broader needs that the company may need instead of rigid job titles and descriptions.


Startups need a broader approach in the way they look for talent. 


Bringing Rally onto the market

Our team was also asked to brainstorm how Rally might be able to be announced within the startup scene. Some initial thoughts were bringing awareness where founders and talent might already be working (ie. bars/coffee shops) with coasters. 

Activation Capital also hosts a large startup events throughout the year, so we ideated photo wall/booths that can be brought into the conferences with a number of merch to go along with it.


Handing off the design system

While creating the platform, we created a robust design system so we could hand off the project to the developers we were working with.

Talent Onboarding

Straightforward, dynamic wizard that allows talent to detail their information, socials, and tool kits.

E-Business Cards

At the end of the talent wizard, an E-Business Card is created in which can be sent to startups to spark up a casual conversation.


Hiring process needs for startups is in need of creating a less transactional approach due to the nontraditional aspect of itself.

Building out the flow

After gathering and analyzing our research, we started narrowed down what Rally needed to be into three core flows. 

• Founders creating a startup profile pages 

• Talent creating E-Business Cards and having the ability to interact with startups

• Resource Finder for any users to utilize information provided by Activation Capital 

Designing & Prototyping

From low to high fidelity design, we worked together as a team using primarily Figma to collaborate our designs into a live prototype.

User Testing

Throughout the process, we utilized players in the startup scene and fellow designers to user test our prototypes. We used their feedback to help make iterations to our designs.


At the beginning of our process we interviewed many of those that made up Richmond's startup scene including accelerators, founders, and talent. Through these sit downs, we gained insights on the needs of the community and what had already been attempted. Here are a few of our key insights:

"A new talent acquistion platform that enables talent to understand that they would need to wear many hats would make the recruitment process much more efficient."

- Founder

"Richmond is not lacking capital... there is a clear disconnect with the ability to find talent in the area."

- Angel Investor

“When I started my company, I had trouble finding [talent] that could wear many hats in order to help me out with multiple aspects of my business."

- Founder

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