Design based entrepreneurship: the transition from designer to entrepreneur

Valencia Hernández, José Aldo (2020) Design based entrepreneurship: the transition from designer to entrepreneur. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The inspiration for this research came from anecdotal evidence of the important relationships between design, entrepreneurship and innovation. In particular how designers could transfer their skills into the entrepreneurial settings.

In earlier studies, the connection between the designer’s logic and the entrepreneur’s logic have been established. In general, both profiles present a tendency to work experimentally, focusing on the effects of their actions rather than over-analysing the information available. In the early stages of product development and new venture creation, creativity represents a significant component of business success, yet, there is the need to change from striving for the ideal to realizing and implementing what is practicable. The implementation stage enticed the researcher to understand why there were very few testimonies of designers setting up consumer product companies. Anecdotal accounts available in the literature tend to tell ‘the success story’ of the journey without attempting to understand the underlying thinking patterns of the central characters. The researcher decided to come to Northumbria University, drawing upon its ranking of graduate business start-ups and the reputation and experience in both its Design and Business Schools.

This study explores the experiences and capabilities of Designer Entrepreneurs i.e. designers who have taken a founding role in a start-up organisation. It focuses on entrepreneurs bringing new consumer-products to market where they must manage the tensions between authoring the best possible new product, with the urgency and pragmatics of getting to market at the right moment.

The entrepreneurial process refers to the set of steps and decisions designers took to make their ideas reach the market. During this exploration, a significant finding on the entrepreneurial process emerged from the data: The intertwined influences of: new product development and new venture creation along with the designer´s transition (integrated by the designer´s mindset evolution and the sense of authorship). The sense of authorship contributes to the coherence between personal believes and desires and the final execution of the product/company. On the other hand, the designer´s mindset refers to the evolution of the mentality experienced by designers when move their expert area outwards. There are no studies concentrated on the transition experienced by designers when they set out on the entrepreneurial journey which is key to understand the entrepreneurial process. This study contributes a greater understanding of the relationships and sometimes
tensions between new product development, new venture creation and the designer´s transition during the entrepreneurial journey.

Also, this research synthetized a Design Entrepreneurship for Consumer Product Innovation Typology to help understand design entrepreneurship using a set of principles and tools taken from other theories from relevant Design and Business disciplines.

The study also describes the entrepreneurial ecosystem to prepare the ground for the research. The entrepreneurial ecosystem refers to companies, technologies, and platforms that interact with the entrepreneurs and have an impact on the product/start-up.

The study considered the testimony of more than 50 individuals, active within the design entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the Designer Entrepreneurs themselves. The research was carried out following a constructivist grounded theory approach, utilising a series of creative tasks and interview questions developed for this study. Each interaction with members of the ecosystem honed the researcher´s understanding of the research problem.

The key audiences for this research are design academics and designers at the outset of the entrepreneurial journey. From the academic side, academics can stimulate the entrepreneurial activity of design schools by understanding how successful Designer Entrepreneurs have taken a concept and convert it into a viable business. For the design and business incubators audience, this study helps to identify the benefits designers bring to the table, and how their intrinsic authorship, mentality, and practice-based approach facilitate the creation of meaningful products, as well as the start-up adaptation to uncertain environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Design Startup, Product Design and Industrial Design, Design for Business Innovation, New Product Development and New Venture Creation, Designer Entrepreneur
Subjects: N100 Business studies
W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 09:08
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 14:21

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