Digital Product Designer Profile:
Travis Schmeisser


Brick & Wonder member Travis Schmeisser and business partner Thomas Peterson are two halves of First Principle, a digital creative agency focused on product design and strategy. Schmeisser started out his career in a traditional graphic design and branding program.

“After realizing how archaic print design programs were at the time and how slow computers were at handling high-resolution files, I started looking into what else I could do with a design degree. Once I found out more about the internet and web design I was hooked. Being able to post a webpage online and anyone in the world having the ability to see it blew my mind,” Schmeisser told us.

The core of what we do is based on conversations, brainstorming, exploration and creation and none of it should be done 100% alone.

As the web and the various devices and capabilities that came with it matured, Schmeisser was drawn towards the product design side, compelled not only by solving visual problems, but also conceptual, interactive and business problems as people engage with a tool or platform. “I got here through major amounts of youthful impatience,” Schmeisser laughed.

Both Peterson and Schmeisser ran their own agencies for a while before meeting at 80/20, a product design agency that was later acquired by payment processing company, Square.

Square, the payment processing company where Schmeisser was an early hire

Later, after some time as early members of Square’s design team Schmeisser and Peterson started thinking about combining forces for their next move. “We have similar backgrounds and product philosophies, so it made sense to team up and start First Principle to provide our services to more people instead of being inside one company. It feels more like a return to what we’re used to than a brand new start.”

With a name derived from a conceptual framework that breaks down complex problems to devise original solutions, First Principle aim to deliver maximum client value through a mix of strategic business partnership and traditional design agency approaches. “Sometimes people think they only need pretty design, but what they really need is a deeper moat around their space or to strengthen their offering in some innovative way. We like to think that’s where we provide the most value and the reason you’d pick First Principle,” Schmeisser explained.

TATA Group, one of First Princple's clients, is developing its product offering in a rapidly growing e-commerce division.

Much of the challenge of running a successful agency that delivers great work derives from the way in which client relationships are structured. “People love to say they want to partner with agencies, but that’s only true when we act as one unit and have space to affect the business, direction and the technology in a meaningful way. That’s what makes us different and where we can all create the best work together.”

Even though First Principle is a relatively new business, the experience Peterson and Schmeisser offer is deep and diverse. This has resulted in work with clients like Tata Group, Cedar and Alibaba.

Jack Ma, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group

Like many Brick & Wonder members, First Principle’s work involves a great deal of collaboration, with clients directly and with other partners working to tackle problems together. “The core of what we do is based on conversations, brainstorming, exploration and creation and none of it should be done 100% alone. The more ideas and input during this process, the better and that includes us and the client.”