Previously, I served as Head of Design at Kangaroo, a platform connects fandoms to their franchises through interactive fiction. Here, I helped raise its $40M seed round and worked with high-profile IP partners.


Head of Design


July 2020 - May 2021


User research, wire-framing, interaction design, user-testing, product scoping


Figma, Illustrator, Notion


How do we create a space for people to foster relationships with their favorite franchises through storytelling?

At one point or another, we've all found a friend in our favorite book character. Or movie character. Or favorite rock band. The point is, there is something indefinitely meaningful about fostering these friendships that ground us to who we are. My team and I wanted to build a way to help fans feel closer to the characters they love through interactive narrative games, and this is my journey in building our first MVP.


Splash Screen & Sign Up

The sign up progress should be as painless and as easy as possible. Because we're a mobile first app, my approach was to have users first start out by inputting their numbers to verify their account.


This is a quick way for us to filter out which communities users are interested in being a part of, and more importantly which stories they would be interested in playing.

In Game Walkthrough

To help users better understand the purpose of the app, its important users get a walkthrough of what the gameplay experience would be like. This is important because we want to avoid overwhelming users, and want to build a sense of gradual trust and engagement through this process. This walks through the start screen and takes the user through character selection.

The rest of the in-game experience and app is currently covered by an NDA. If you'd like access please reach out to me at sophiatn@usc.edu.


Key Takeaways

1. Internal documentation is very, very important

I joined the team of five as the only designer, and there was an entire world I had to learn on the fly. I learned how to create an information infrastructure for the company, implement design systems. values, and metrics, and learned how to communicate with a team of developers. I also got the opportunity to make high level decisions

2. Articulating vision and defining scope

I had to learn on the job how to create tangible goals in the best interest of the company. Learning to justify product decisions to align with users, investors, and our own goals was time-consuming, scary, but also provided me with so much clarity. I had to recognize that the speed of design and development weren't matching our list of exponentially increasing expectations.

Through this, I learned how to align the product strategy to align with how the app showed potential. Definite structure had always been the way I envisioned scope, which I now realize isn't the case. I had to adapt a flexible, quick-thinking mindset.

3. Making data driven decisions

As someone just breaking into the world of product and design, it's easy to get lost in the creation process. I wanted to keep building new features, wanted to keep thinking of what else we could offer — but then I hit a roadblock. The design team and I felt as though we thought of every solution and that was where we went wrong.

I realized that the roadblocks came from our lack of data. What was the user dropout rate? Where were our users pain points? Was the user-flow too complicated? Was the visual design too cluttered? I didn't know, and I didn't ask enough people. I learned to devote concrete time in the product journey to test out assumptions, and how to communicate those results into design deliverables.

4. Being a good designer means being a good team member

If you can’t build empathy with your teammates how do you expect to build empathy toward perfect strangers? When I first joined, I was  thrown into a team of exceptional, talented, and experienced individuals. Initially, I was intimidated and I wanted to withdraw myself during meetings.

What I realized was that not only was I preventing myself from speaking up, I was also inadvertently closing myself off to the team. I started to make effort after hours to build emotional connection to my designers and to everyone on the team, and made effort to build a better team culture and dynamic.  Team members reached out to me for advice, for positive reinforcement

Final Thoughts

This has been one of the most fast-paced, thrilling, and overall incredible learning experiences.  I initially joined the team as a UI/UX intern before adopting my role as the head of design. Working a leadership position at small and fast paced environment has helped me wear many hats and gain a diverse array of skills on the spot. This was a pivotal experience in challenging me to be more confident in my decisions, to unapologetically fail (try again ruthlessly), and to be unafraid of asking for help.