Hi, my name is John Zeratsky 👋
I’m an investor, designer, and author on a mission to help people make time for work that matters.
Since you’re looking at my website, you might want to:
- Learn about my VC fund Character
- Read about the design sprint or buy the Sprint book
- Explore ways to reclaim your time and energy
- Or get in touch for any other reason
In the first chapter of my career, I spent nearly 15 years as a designer, helping small teams build new products and bring them to market.
I was as an early employee at FeedBurner in Chicago, which was acquired by Google in 2007. At Google, I led design for AdWords Editor and DoubleClick Search. In 2010, I moved to San Francisco to work at YouTube. I was part of an internal startup team that created the YouTube Channels platform, which launched in early 2012.
From 2011–2017, I was a partner at venture-capital firm GV (Google Ventures), where I helped develop the Sprint method and personally supported many of GV’s most successful investments, including Slack, One Medical Group, Flatiron Health, Blue Bottle Coffee, Gusto, and Digit.
Along the way, I began writing about work, time, focus, and collaboration — first about the design sprint, and then about how to find focus and energy in everyday life. I’ve written two bestselling books with my friend Jake Knapp and published articles in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and other outlets.
My writing created opportunities to speak, facilitate, and consult with a variety of organizations. Since 2017, I have worked with Netflix, Associated Bank, IDEO, Caterpillar, King Wood & Mallesons, Google, Schneider Electric, Airbnb, and many more. I have presented at conferences including Google I/O, The Code Conference, and INDUSTRY. I have given guest lectures at Harvard University, London School of Economics, and University of Michigan, among others.
In 2020, I returned to venture capital, first as an angel investor and advisor, and then as the co-founder and general partner of Character, a new seed VC firm. We invest nationwide in startups betting on big shifts in customer behavior, and use our Sprint method to help them find and expand product-market fit.
Originally from small-town Wisconsin, I have also lived in Chicago and San Francisco. From 2017–2019, my wife and I lived aboard our sailboat Pineapple and traveled throughout coastal Central America, sailing a big “U” from California to Florida. We now live in Milwaukee.
I studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the UW School of Human Ecology, where I’m now an advisor to the Dean and faculty.
I believe the purpose of life is to find contentment in the work of serving others. I’m grateful for the privilege to make this my life’s work.