I'm Mike Costanzo. Product and Design nerd. Lean & Agile nerd too. Some people say I look like Napoleon...but I don't see it.

Get in touch with me 👉 here.

Some Work

My Pain Sensei

I worked with the CEO to define an new strategy for the struggling startup and to re-think the product from the ground up. In just over a year was able to turn the company around leading to a $30-million aquisition by The DNA Company.

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Results from users like the one below make me incredibly proud:

My Pain Sensei


As VP, Product of a young fintech startup I was brought in to give product and design leadership and direction. I also helped improve all aspects of the companies processes including product strategy, business model, and fund-raising etc.

Onist Case Study

Black Crows

Helped a ski retailer build a ecomm resposive web app to outperform the competition

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Lead the design for a corporate wellness startup in need of a mobile MVP

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Angular Augury

Logo design for a Chrome and Firefox dev tools extension for debugging Angular applications.

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Lean Discovery: Shifting from Outputs to Outcomes by Finding & Fixing Customer Pain

So many software development projects start with high levels of uncertainty. Some of it is explicit, you many not know exactly who the target customer is and what they want, and some of it may be implicit, you have a great idea but are uncertain about the technical risks of delivering the experience or what the state-of-the-art is capable of and, as they say, you don't know what you don't know. In these cases we echo the words of "Ike" Eisenhower:

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

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What Is Innovation — Really?

Innovation is one of the ultimate buzzwords of our era but what is it really? What is its meaning? How can we see it? Replicate it? Scale it? In his talk, I propose that innovation really is the “removal of friction” from a system; and that through this lens we can understand the rise of design, lean startup, Silicon Valley and possibly many other innovative happenings across time.

The talk covers the following topics:

  1. The Real Lesson Steve Jobs Taught Us
  2. The Rise of Design
  3. Innovation = The Removal Of Friction?
  4. Co-opting Innovation
See Slide Deck

How Steve Jobs REALLY helped Apple get back to basics

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” is an often quoted piece of Steve Jobs wisdom I’ve hated for a long time. It has given license to so much misguided energy, and I’ve seen too many companies use it’s premise to avoid talking to customers many times in my career. I want to dispel the implication of this statement once and for all.

The sentence before the quote illuminates things further and changes the intent considerably (That full response is even longer and you can read the full interview here):

“…it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
— Steve Jobs

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How Note Taking Builds Better Teams & Products

When conducting customer interviews or usability tests I rarely see Product Managers or UX Researchers bring the rest of the team along for the ride. In this article, I discuss one simple and very useful way to supercharge your teams' understanding of the users' problems while also making your research and insight immediately actionable.

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Master UI Wireframes With Three Simple Shapes

For some people, collaborative design and sketching ideas can be an intimidating prospect. One way to ease these fears is to start your workshop with a quick warmup to show people how three simple shapes can unlock creativity and help design almost any UI imaginable.

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Being a Designer 101: Essential Readings For Wannabe Product Designers

I try to meet with as many junior product designers as I can to listen, mentor and give advice when appropriate. The two things I often see missing in many portfolios and application concepts is a lack of basic graphic design principles, namely typography, composition. In most software applications these critical skills can not only make your app look better but improve its usability.

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