Tuesday 12pm, 23 February 2016


Learning Outside the Classroom: HCI in the Real World

Manu Kumar

Founder - K9 Ventures


​In Spring 2014 and in Fall 2015, Manu taught a class at Stanford called "HCI in the Real World." The class was an experiment.

It was based on the premise that while the HCI education in academia ​teaches us a lot of principles and techniques, how HCI gets practiced in the real world is very different. There is rarely a role in an organization which says HCI in the job title and HCI graduates end up moving into roles that run the gamut from front-end engineer, visual designer, industrial designer, usability analyst, product manager, researcher, academic, and all the way to startup founder.

Each week during the course of the quarter we would go and visit different companies and speak with engineers, designers, product managers and more at each company to try and get a grasp on how products get built across different types and sizes of organizations. Over the course of the two quarters the class visited or heard from: Google, Square, Palantir, Facebook, Trifacta, Osmo, Nimble VR, Pulse, Dropbox, Microsoft Research, Google [X], New Deal Design, Tesla, Oculus, Airbnb, Lyft, eShares and more.

In this talk, I will present some of the most interesting observations and learning the students presented in their final papers for the class.


Manu is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of K9 Ventures, a pre-seed and seed stage micro-VC fund based in Palo Alto, California. K9 invests in Silicon Valley based teams who: can build their product and lead their company, are creating new technology or markets, and have a direct revenue business model. K9 invests ‘frighteningly early’ and likes to be the first institutional capital invested.

Manu was the founder of SneakerLabs, which was acquired by Octane/E.piphany; iMeet which merged with Netspoke and was then acquired by Premiere Conferencing; CardMunch which was acquired by LinkedIn, and is the co-founder of eShares. He holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering with University Honors and a M.S. in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford with a Distinction in Teaching.

K9 is an investor in Lyft, Twilio, Occipital, eShares, CrowdFlower, CardMunch and IndexTank (both acquired by LinkedIn), BackType (acquired by Twitter), Everlaw, (acquired by PayPal), NimbleVR (acquired by Facebook / Oculus), Baydin, LucidChart, Enuma, Coin, Osmo, KidAdmit, Auth0 and Gradescope.