2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: Tyler Doornbos

Tyler Doornbos. Courtesy 616 Media

Tyler Doornbos, 38

Co-founder, partner

Well Design Studio

Well Design Studio broke $1 million in revenue last year, which isn’t a lot of money for the business, but it’s a significant milestone for its co-founder, Tyler Doornbos.

“A million has meant that we’ve created excellent, stable jobs for a (growing) group of wonderful, local people who we could not have done this without,” he said. “It’s meant that we’ve worked on scores of impactful projects that have profoundly affected the region and that have made life better for people here.”

The story of Well Design Studio began when Doornbos met his future business partner, Josh Leffingwell, on Twitter in 2010. The two were kvetching about Grand Rapids’ poor bicycle infrastructure.

The partnership led to more than a decade of working in urbanism, community work and business. When Well Design was first getting started, the group put in a bid to work on the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Challenge Scholars program. 

“We were easily the newest, smallest studio that put in a bid,” Doornbos said. “We knew it was a big deal for us, and we put our all in. To their credit, the GRCF team saw something in us and our work to date, our commitment to community, and they gave us a chance. They hired us for the project, and it jumpstarted our firm’s growth and work.”

Doornbos also created Beer O’Clock GR, a happy hour/social events website he built with friends he knew in Portland, Oregon.

“We loved the happy hour and city life sites that we found there and got together to build one to support our city’s growing restaurant and bar scene,” he said.

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