Bryan Offutt

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In Conversation

How do you think about creativity in the context of investing?

Bryan — Investing is an exploratory endeavor, and it requires a lot more creative thinking than it gets credit for. Pattern-matching is pretty straightforward, but it’s much harder to keep an open mind and consider what could be, as opposed to what has been. Investing is about pushing yourself to imagine a world that doesn’t exist yet, and partnering with fantastic founders to turn that vision into reality. The most successful companies are willing to consistently take creative risks, whether it’s an innovative new technology or a different way of approaching recruiting and culture.

What makes a great product?

Bryan — Usefulness, first and foremost, but also balance. A product has to be familiar enough that it isn’t intimidating, but different enough that it challenges you to rethink how you perform a given task. It has to be simple enough that getting started is quick, but complex enough to grow with the user over time. It has to be subtle enough that it’s not trying too hard, but bold enough that it has a distinct look and feel. Entrepreneurs need a deep understanding of users’ ability to uncover a product’s complexity in a way that feels natural. This takes a great deal of discipline and patience.

Bryan joined Index in 2018 and focuses on enterprise investments with an emphasis on design. He is particularly interested in the consumerization of enterprise and the use of design to improve the approachability of highly technical products.

Bryan began his career at Palantir Technologies, where he worked as an engineer and product manager on work that spanned federated search, data ingestion, data collaboration, and access control. Following Palantir, Bryan worked as product manager at MemSQL, where he focused on deployability and user interfaces.

Bryan graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in computer science, focusing on artificial intelligence.