Co-designing a startup ideation tool

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design
Over two-thirds of startups never deliver investors a positive return. This suggests that in order for the startup entrepreneur to succeed, a systematic generation of new startup ideas is needed. However, popular business modeling tools seem more useful for the analysis of the entrepreneur’s already existing idea or are too complex to be easily used or adapted to suit individual needs. Generating ideas from inspiration and experience is part of the professional designer’s everyday. Designers have developed process frameworks to help guide their creative work from its motivations towards a solution. Similarly, insight frameworks explain how, for example, seemingly unrelated knowledge can come together to form an insight. Co-design promises to make design more relevant by designing with rather than for stakeholders. Relevant co-design tools sit at the core of successful co-design activities. This thesis engages entrepreneurs and startup coaches in the co-design of a startup ideation tool to better serve their needs by also conducting research for the design of the activities themselves – specifically the co-design tool – from a designer ideation perspective as well as a business perspective. In addition to a literature review, research for this thesis can be divided into three parts: research for the design of the co-design activities, the co-design activities themselves and analysis of the co-designed artifacts. The literature review surveyed co-design, co-design tools, business modeling tools and their frameworks (frameworks being their overall structure and parts), design process frameworks and insight frameworks. Interviews and action research – through participation in a startup pre-incubator – helped identify the key parts of a startup. The research showed that the key parts of a startup ideation tool are potentially made up of the same three parts necessary to express a startup idea: the motivation behind the idea, the investor-friendly market the idea will serve and the mechanism that bridges these. Business modeling tool, design process and insight frameworks were then integrated with this knowledge into a co-design tool. With this co-design tool as their starting point, five co-design sessions and one co-design workshop produced six co-designed startup ideation tools with entrepreneurs and startup coaches as co-designers. Participant startup entrepreneurs and coaches tended to accept the co-design tool as is, basing their own ideation tools quite clearly upon the frameworks and parts of the co-design tool. However, several co-design participants also expressed a strong desire to link back, even measure, the market and motivation parts which resulted in a possible fourth part: the feedback that measures the relationship between a market and an entrepreneur’s motivation. This created a circular framework connecting all four parts. Through affinity diagramming of the co-design session and workshop artifacts and data, a prototype startup ideation tool was designed and is proposed for further co-design, testing and validation.
Savolainen, Kaisa
Thesis advisor
Chun, Namkyu
business models, liiketoimintamallit, startup companies, startup-yritykset, planning and design, suunnittelu, co-design, co-design tools
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