Building a startup today is easier than ever thanks to readily available and affordable technology resources. But with so many products fighting for the end user’s attention, both in the consumer and enterprise space, how does one startup stand out from the next? Enter the designer/entrepreneur.
We sat down with Michoel Ogince, Founder in Residence at 30 Weeks, and Collin Cummings, a 30 Weeks year-one alumnus, to talk about why designers have a unique ability to understand how humans interact with technology, how they can ensure a startup has a better chance of success, and the power of the designer in building a technology startup.
Watch the full recording below, or read on for our short recap on some of our favorite questions.
What is design entrepreneurship, and what is it not?
Michoel explained design entrepreneurship by breaking down the 2 words. If entrepreneurship is the process of building a new business, design entrepreneurship is when you marry those 2 by building design into the process of building a business.“Design entrepreneurship brings design in at the beginning and keeps it at its core.”
Traditionally, entrepreneurship gets tackled by an engineer and a business person building a startup—build an alpha and a beta version and outsource design before shipping the alpha.
That’s not design entrepreneurship.
What skills do designers have that make them good entrepreneurs?
Collin said that on the obvious side, designers are good at telling stories and making things seem desirable. For example, there were MP3 players before there were iPods. But Apple made iPods feel like something you wanted to be a part of your life.“Designers are good at telling stories and making things seem desirable.”
Less obvious, Collin said, is that designers know how to make things work because they’ve spent so much time solving other people’s problems. That’s a unique, creative task. Artists often spend a lot of time expressing their own ideas, and this can be a box that you get into when building your own product.
When building a business, you need someone versed in knowing how to take an idea that was in someone else’s head and communicate it in a way that makes everyone else care about it.
Where do you see the future of design?
Collin said that he believes that play is the future of design. He thinks that game designers are powerfully special thinkers. They don’t just know how to solve complex problems, they also know how to create foreign contexts and then solve complex problems within those. They know how to design for empathy.“If we’re doing our jobs as design thinkers, we should be working with games.”
If we’re doing our jobs as design thinkers, we should be working with games. Games are a perfect environment to try something you’d never try—to get into a place where you’re completely out of your element. He believes everyone should be playing a lot more games, especially at work.
Michoel said that in the near future, design will be the most important skillset on the planet. His example was: if you watch any science fiction movie where they show cities in the future, everything is so well designed. Design will play a larger role in everything a human is exposed to—not just software or building a business.
Make sure to watch our recording above for all of the additional questions we asked Michoel and Collin.