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close-up of Matthew Gruber's face with a monkey on his shoulder

Grad is Co-Founder of White-Labeled Design and Video Editing Software Design Huddle

Born in Huntington Beach, California, Matthew Gruber attended Cypress High School before he came to FIDM to study Graphic Design. He graduated in 2001 and three years ago he co-founded Design Huddle, a hosted software solution that provides franchises, brands, agencies, and media providers the ability to create, customize, and distribute designs for print or web. We recently caught up with the entrepreneur to learn about his journey.

Tell us about Design Huddle: The conception of Design Huddle started 6 years ago. We sought out to build the very first white-labeled and embeddable video and graphic design platform. Design Huddle allows companies to create custom video and graphic design templates for their users to easily edit. With the rise of online graphic design editors, we doubled down on the idea of giving companies the opportunity to have their own branded design platform and eliminate users from having to work within other third-party sites.

After launching about three years ago, we now work with some of the largest brands in the world. Partners include: Smartsheet & Brandfolder along with several major franchise companies, entertainment, real estate, printers, schools, and agencies. Our clients take advantage of features within Design Huddle such as Template Locking (restrict design customizability), Variable Templates (auto populate user-specific data within design or video templates), approval queue, and more. Brands are able to create anything from presentations, social media posts, print graphics, videos, and animations.

My responsibilities include overseeing UI/UX and innovation. Ensuring our clients and their users are having the best experience possible within our platform. It's fun to see the excitement reaction from future clients in nearly every demo we do. Periodically, clients tell us they've been searching years for something like Design Huddle.

What was your path to FIDM like? Rough. As someone with extreme ADHD, I struggled in high school. I didn't care about homework or any other subject besides art and gym class. Toward the end of my senior year in high school, I felt lost. Everyone else was preparing for college and I had no clue what I was going to do. I was working at Knott's Berry Farm at the time and a co-worker mentioned she was attending FIDM. She explained it was both a fashion and art school and immediately caught my interest. I had no idea schools like this existed nor was I aware of what a trade school was. So after learning more about the school, my mother and I took a visit to the school, I took a small interest test and the counselor immediately thought I would be interested in the Graphic Design program. I was so excited but we really didn't have any money to pay for college. Within weeks, I received a scholarship and loan approval to cover my expenses and the rest is history.

Going back further, tell us about your role as Creative Director and Co-Founder of MobilePayUSA: MobilePay was an opportunity to work within the mobile payments space. MobilePay allowed anyone to pay for everyday purchases with their cell phone based on their GPS location through an e-wallet w/o any physical cards, barcodes or chips. No hardware or software integration for merchants either. We were payments, loyalty, search, daily deal, coupons, check-in, gift cards all in one. I was responsible for all things creative and the mobile app UI/UX.

We gained momentum after becoming the Start-Up Alley winner for TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 in San Francisco (bought by AOL) out of thousands of companies who applied, chosen by the attendees. We were keynote speakers at 2 Window Phone 7 events & editorial features in; Digital Transactions News, Yahoo News CBS B-NET, USA Today, PC Magazine, Laptop Magazine, PC World, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, SiliconeRepublic, American Banker, Wall Street Technology, IntoMobile, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Finance Tech, DaniWeb & Banking Technology News.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? I owe a debt of gratitude to the faculty and staff of FIDM. Marlene Dunn was head of the Graphic Design department. She was also my counselor, mentor and coach. She believed in me and my work. I was chosen out of our entire class with four other students to attend the Adobe conference. After graduating FIDM, I immediately began working for an agency in Irvine, California that served brands such as BMX and Coca Cola.

What FIDM instructors were instrumental to your development, and how did they impact you? Douglas Haverty was my favorite. He was a patient, kind, professional and solid teacher. Doug has a great eye for design and had the ability to let you down gently if your design wasn't great. 

Anything else you’d like to share? In my spare time, I love working with video. In 2013, we did a video shoot for a Doritos contest that garnered nearly 180 million views with Crystal the Monkey from Hangover 2 that can be seen here; and another fun video I did for Traeger Grills. I don't take myself very seriously. I love to take risks, love to laugh and love this beautiful thing we call life.  

Learn more online at designhuddle.com.

Categories:  Graphic Design Alumni