Product Design
A venture project created during my years at SVA MFAD. Newbie is a mobile companion that supports international students as they adjust to living in New York City. Newbie app anticipates an international student’s journey to NYC, and provides guidance at the right moment.

Newbie Venture Presentation

This 8-min presentation summarizes the “why,” “what,” and “how” of Newbie, followed by a business plan.

View the pitch book  →

They say culture shock is a necessary process to go through for one to become a tougher version of themselves. As an international student myself, I disagree. I don’t think anyone wants to be kicked out of a bus on the first day in a new country, thinking they’ve committed a crime. It’s already hard enough to move to a new country, let alone adjusting to the new social and cultural environment, especially when one is all alone.
It’s very ethnocentric in a way that people assume that you already know about their culture to participate in their activity.
I wish there is support like as if somebody is holding your hand and guide you. Not shaming like how do you not know this?
Well, I didn’t know the existence of Trader Joe’s until my second year of college.

Qualitative Research

I asked a dozen former international students about their experiences when they first came to the United States. It turns out that belonging somewhere takes time, and many of them longed for a support system and local knowledge.

Did you experience culture shock?
Did any school representatives help you get settled?
Just a little

Quantitative Research

I sent out a survey to former and current international students and received 25 responses in total. The two selected questions above show that most students experienced culture shock when they moved here and would figure out things themselves.

I imagine Newbie as a companion that follows me. A buddy who tells me what I need to prepare, teaches me things I should know, answers my questions whenever I ask, connect me with other students, and shows me what to explore in the city. That’s exactly what Newbie does.
Is there something I missed? What should I bring with me? How do I look for an apartment?

Action Items

Newbie’s action list provides a comprehensive list of tasks to accomplish based on where a student is in their journey. Each items contains step-by-step tips organized by former international students. New action item will show up once a student completes a current one.

What is it like over there? What can I do to prepare so that I can fit in?


Newbie’s guides are the 101 lessons to understand local norms. It covers everything one needs to know to thrive in a new place. They are visual driven, easy to read, easy to save, and easy to remember.

I need a really quick response for something I’m trying to figure out.


Newbie’s online support chat is responsive. It’s like texting to Google, but powered by former international students. No more waiting for 24 hours to hear back from school officials.

WTF did I just experience? How would people deal with this type of situation?


Newbie’s forum is a community space to discuss topics or ask for recommendations. One can find mutual interests, bond with fellow international students, or share stories.

Been to all the touristy spots already. What else can I explore in the city?


Newbie’s Explore section recommends activities based on one’s interests. Each activity is attached with a guide so that one can successfully participate and enjoy the experience.

Experience Map

Newbie is thoughtfully designed based on international students’ moving journey. To view how Newbie can be a good companion, watch here.

Newbie’s brand identity is meant to be fearless and encouraging. Inspired by airports’ moving LED info screens, heavily stamped old travel documents, and suitcases full of stickers, Newbie brand infuses all touchpoints with its passion and care.

Newbie Website

Newbie’s website tells the latest of Newbie. It contains a free directory for international students who are moving to New York City.

Newbie Package

Newbie’s package is sent along with a college’s acceptance package to welcome new international students and encourage them to onboard Newbie.

Newbie Instagram

Newbie’s Instagram posts helpful, shareable visual guides. Above are selected images from Newbie’s NYC subway guide.

Newbie Video Ads

Newbie’s promotional video was set from an emotional angle, bringing audience into the minds of newbies.