Text Link






Design Process

Visual Identity

Final Product




Paper is a mobile app that streamlines the business expense report process for businesses and individual employees. 


Product Designer

Lavalab Startup

Jan 2022 - May 2022

User Research

@Nick Hensel
@Ian Brash
@Trevor Asbery

A Bit of Background

During Spring 2022, I joined Lavalab, a student-run product incubator. As part of the new cohort, I was paired with three other individuals (a product manager and two developers) to build a start-up. Our startup is Paper, an app that makes expense reporting easier. Over the course of this semester-long project, we built up the business, conducting user and competitor research. By the end of the semester, we had a working prototype that was able to store receipts automatically when a payment is made on any Square terminal.


At the end of the semester, each Lavalab team presents their product at Demo night to a panel of judges. We got to set up a booth for people to see our project and try our prototype. So proud of my team :) 


Product Preview

A modern and energetic style with an emphasis on simplicity and ease of use. Paper was designed to be satisfying to use with it's bubble designs and intuitive features.

The Process



User Research

Gina Daree

Age: 74, Location: Palo Alto, CA
Occupation: CEO of Software Company

Gina is the CEO of a B2B software company. As a CEO, she utilizes a company card with an assistant that has to spend hours managing her receipts for the accountants to create business expense reports.

Problem Statement: Gina is unsatisfied with the productivity of her assistant and the inefficiencies of the business expense process because her assistant has to spend so much time organizing receipts and there is a lot of downtime for her accountant to submit business expense reports.

Jerry Lin

Age: 32, Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Occupation: Accountant for a large accounting firm

Jerry is a tax accountant for an accounting firm. He conducts accounting for numerous clients including both businesses and individuals.

Problem Statement: As an accountant, Jerry is often frustrated with existing accounting software for business expense reports because of the tedious amounts of manual work needed to track expenses through receipts and information provided by the client.

Quincy Logan

Age: 26, Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Owner of a small restaurant
Small Business Owner

Quincy has recently opened up a small burger restaurant in Chicago. Because the restaurant is relatively small and underfunded, as the owner, Quincy has to do a lot of the work on her own, including her business expenses.

Problem Statement: Quincy is overwhelmed by the amount of business expense work she has to do for her business and often loses a lot of money by failing to write off business expenses properly.

By conducting user research and constructing user personas, we discovered that the expense reporting process for all business owners and accountants is often tedious and time consuming. Any person who has to do any level of business work will have business expenses to deduct which makes this problem pressing for a wide variety of businesspeople.

fluid gameplay

It was difficult to navigate the map feature because it did not function like familiar map platforms. For the sake of unique design, the game sacrificed a smooth user flow.


There were multiple panels that included a large amount of text that made it difficult to gauge important information. This is especially detrimental to this game since it is story-focused.

intuitive design

The prototype attempted to be unique with iconography and other aspects of the design which led to a design that was unintuitive because it deviated from existing app norms.

expense report process

The current business expense reporting process is long and tedious, involving multiple parties, making the process inefficient and time-consuming.

Employee fills out information for an expense report.

Expense report needs: Date, Account, Expense Category (Hotel, Travel, Food, etc.) 

Submit for approval with a manager.

If rejected, the employee will not get a reimbursement or will have to resubmit information.

Submit for approval with an accountant.

If rejected, the information is sent back to the manager who will then send it back to the employee.

Expense report is recorded as a business transaction.

Expense reports are audited by the IRS.

Competitor Analysis

In order to gauge the current market for receipt management and expense reporting, we conducted extensive competitor research. We found that ramp is the closest to the product that we decided to build based on our user research and the needs of our target audience.

No vendor opt-in required

Use any bank card

Integrated into expense tracking platforms

Collects unique marketing data for vendors


Establishing a Visual Identity

The visual identity was established through a series of iterations for our company idea pitch. Over the course of the semester, we had the opportunity to give weekly pitches as our company ideas developed.


Iteration 01

The first challenge as the product designer of the team is to design a pitch deck for our product manager to use in his delivery. Originally, our idea centered around the utilization of blockchain, so in the first iteration of our pitch deck, I opted for gradients and a textured glass effect to match the futuristic and colorful energy of other blockchain companies.

Iteration 02

A few weeks into the process, we decided as a team to stray away from the blockchain space and opt for a simpler method of receipt tracking. This is mainly because of the drawbacks with using blockchain, including the difficulty to develop without a full team of developers and its huge negative impact on the environment. Thus, as a designer, it was necessary for me to lean away from the bright futuristic design associated with the blockchain space. With that in mind, I rebranded paper as a b2b tech company, with a focus on simplicity and ease of use.

Final Brand Identity

With the new style established by the second iteration of slide decks, I was able to create a brand identity and design system for the MVP and for future presentation decks for Paper.


MVP Process

With a branding guide and a solid presentation deck for the idea, we needed to create a prototype for the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). Our MVP was designed for mobile devices since it's main use is the convenience of expense reporting at user's fingertips.

User Flow

While created much later in the process, the user flow is useful to look at in order to understand which screens needed to be made. The reason why this was created later for this specific project is because the client had already given us a few screens to design. It was only later that we created a user flow to connect all the separate screens into a cohesive game.

Lo-Fidelity Drafts

Our low-fidelity drafts were wireframes that outlined the layout for each page. I was tasked with creating the main menu page and so I created multiple iterations, playing with different layouts. I also experimented with different main map layouts.

Final Product

For our final product prototype, we included a number of features, including an extensive tutorial for simple onboarding, discover feature to find new businesses, and an innovative live feature to bring a personal aspect to online business. View our final prototype here.


Final Product

After five months of conducting intensive research, building slide decks, and creating an MVP, the Paper team was finally able to finish the MVP, an app that was not only prototyped in Figma but developed with basic functionality. If someone was to sign into the MVP, they would be able to see their receipts immediately from any transaction done at a Square terminal.

Feature Highlights

Sign Up Flow

The MVP consisted mainly of a sign up flow and a receipt management tool. The sign up flow is pretty basic, but highlights the process of creating an account, including inputting credit card information for easy expense tracking.

Receipt Management

This portion of the MVP is fully functional with most Square terminals. Anyone signing in with their email will receive alerts about their purchases and get a fully itemized receipt with spaces to input the information needed to generate an expense report.


Final Reflection

Key Challenges

Product Positioning

While we understood that there was a need for an expense reporting system, we found it really difficult to pinpoint who exactly needed this tool and who would be the one implementing it. For example, even if this tool would make a CEO's assistant's work easier, the assistant would not be the one making the executive decision to implement the tool. Furthermore, there was the issue of adapting the app into a business' existing accounting ecosystem. These continue to be issues that, should the project continue, must be resolved.

Working with a developer team

I've very rarely worked with a developer team in the past, and usually only implemented design prototypes so this was a special challenge for this project. I needed to communicate my designs with the developers and ensure that whatever I design is feasible. I paid extra attention to creating a clear user flow and explaining the aspects necessary to develop my designs.

Personal Evaluation

My role

I primarily took on the designer role, creating slide decks, branding guides and the MVP. However, on top of the design role, as a co-founder, I also helped dictate the direction of the product. I came to meetings with agendas and set a timeline for the team to work with. I also worked closely with my product manager to write out the pitch for Paper.

areas for improvement

This project has since been discontinued because of the team's various commitments and the feasibility of the product, but if it continues, I think we would need to conduct a lot more user research to better determine our niche and better solidify our target audience.

Design-wise, while I do like the simple branding, I think I can definitely work on making the user flow more cohesive, especially the notification to information input system. It's crucial that we cut the time it takes to record the information behind a purchase as efficient as possible to provide as much of a value add as possible. The more efficient it is, the more incentive there is for businesses to implement the app into their ecosystem.

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