Duane Rollins

Profiles Oct 01, 2020

What happens when you have a love for cars, but you don't know what you want to be when you grow up? Well this is where Duane Rollins might be able to shed some light.

Duane is a precise and thoughtful man. His love for cars propelled him to choose between becoming both a mechanical engineer and an industrial designer. His view on design is also both pragmatic and tangible. “Design is all about communication and unlocking human potential. It’s the closest thing we have to magic outside of pyshics. Where you take something that is just in your head, that you have a vague notion of and you make it real. Art is expression and design is explicitly about being useful and adding value.”

So when the time to choose a school he applied to a number of places including Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. He was accepted to both, Virginia Tech for mechanical and Georgia Tech for industrial. Virginia Tech was cheaper and allowed Duane to at least have a technical background in making cars before learning more about design. While at Virginia Tech, Duane quickly realized that engineering was more about optimizing parts than designing the system and led him to journey to Georgia Tech for my his masters in Industrial Design.

While at tech Duane was able to really discover his design voice and brining forth new ideas and creating something tangible that is valuable. During his masters thesis, Duane worked on designing a car for Liberia. It allowed him to question why people even wanted a car and understand the human experience and defining the why. These experiences propelled him into his varied career which has included doing UX design for organizations such as Peace Corps, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Harvard Business School, and the USO among others, helping cofound a public charter school, the Washington Leadership Academy.

“Design is all about communication and unlocking human potential. It’s the closest thing we have to magic outside of pyshics. Where you take something that is just in your head, that you have a vague notion of and you make it real. Art is expression and design is explicitly about being useful and adding value.”

Duane calls this his favorite project as he had to work with the local community to help get them to buy into the dream and vision. The school taught coding to students to help them become better problem solvers. As a result, several students quickly were able to make some income with the new skills they had acquired, which helped motivate them even more.

Today, Duane works at SEED SPOT, a globally-ranked, social impact accelerator founded in Phoenix, AZ. While he did not start it he does serve as the VP of Impact and Research. Right now, Duane's focus is getting more capital to underrepresented founders and increasing the number of underrepresented accredited investors that add early-stage startup investing to their portfolios. He believes businesses build communities, providing jobs and building communities.

Sometimes the path which you want to take is not a straight line and you never know where you might end up, but don't give up. You never know where you'll end up or what you'll create. And be sure to check out Duane's latest event he has coming up October 9, 2020 called Meaningful Metrics.

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