We had the pleasure of moderating a day of talks and workshops that guided 200 guests through the processes, struggles and joys of launching a product. On the 15th April The Hoxton Amsterdam and Makerversity brought experts to a diverse audience of entrepreneurs, designers, developers and more. From fashion to children’s toys, from granola to furniture, from bicycles to technology the discussions soon became lively debates. The overarching outtakes from the day were 1) the value of exchange of insights across industry and 2) how important relationships and network are for starting out.
Below is a snapshot of some of the advice shared…
How to Prototype Your Dream Product
The importance of primary research as a designer kick started this discussion. One of our panelists Jason Denham from Denham The Jeanmaker described how using his senses and diving in to the story (the feel of a material, the scent, the way it looks, the person who made it and where it was made) has a necessarily powerful effect on the development process. Steve Brown from Calvin Klein countered this by explaining how using data (watch his TED talk too!) saves companies time (and costs) in the development process and gets them closer to customer demand quicker. Whereas Anna & Nina preferred the more organic route testing products on their shop floor and trusting their gut and creative instinct – especially as their customer is reflective of themselves. Jason and Sarah Napier from Granola for Gangsters both agreed you should “surround yourself with great people” and “strong personal relationships with your vendors are key”. Being able to move from her own kitchen to culinary co-working space Kitchen Republic was what helped take Sarah’s business to the next level. Being in this hub alongside a network of entrepreneurs built confidence and enabled her to work at scale.
“No samples, no sales.” says Jason Denham on the importance of having a physical prototype.
How to Launch a Sustainable Brand
Willa Stoutenbeek from W.Green made it clear from the start of this discussion that it is unlikely anyone will achieve 100% sustainability (please get in touch with us if you have!). Because of this Willa says communication is as important as the product itself. Customers find it hard to wade through the plethora of ‘green’ offerings on the shelf so brands should help educate them.
Both Mokumono (MVAMS alumni) and Jan Paul from Kilo (whose product specs are featured above) described their commitment to creating products that stand the test of time and are manufactured locally. Yes; their products may be more expensive than Ikea but they last longer and are a sustainable investment by the customer. And they look great too! One audience member asked how to be more sustainable in her day-to-day business practice. Jan Paul suggested the importance of working with banks like Triodos as opposed to ING. And Willa made it clear that expensive / hard-to-get accreditations for being ‘green’ are not necessary – as a start-up focus on building consumer trust. Our member Kim from We Smell The Rain brought to life her insights on scaling a brand whose mission it is to have a very low impact (read no impact) on the environment. Her advice…
“Just start! In your work and day-to-day life you have to start being sustainable somewhere. Then build it up as you go along. No excuses; there is always something you can do to be more environmentally friendly!”
How to Design Products for People
With a commitment to improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2020 we were very interested to hear from Adam Murphy of Philips. Both he and Samuel de Goede from ByBorre described how their teams develop user journeys. ByBorre use “a day in the life of” and the Philips teams literally act out their consumers lifestyles to begin their development process. For toy-designer Luca Boscardin of Studio Bluc the important part of designing for his young customer is…”imagination and play”. Similarly; Lauren from Ace&Tate recommended that naivety in the industry, product or consumer encourages a critical eye. Seek out this naivety and always question!
How to Create Future Physical Products
To finish off the day Monique (another MVAMS alumni) introduced 20 of the guests to her speculative design techniques. Through her company Imagination of Things she trains people to use fiction as a method for innovation. Having defined some ‘what if…’ scenarios they then built concepts and then answers that solved a problem or jumped in to an opportunity. One example she used was “What if nations were based solely on a common experience rather than a geographic region?” – the answer – “Experience Nations: the UN recognized nations based on shared experience”. Which in fact Ogilvy did innovate a brand new nation around – The Refugee Nation who were able to participate in the Olympics. The teams during the workshop explored Urban Lifestyle, Sustainability and Work-Life Balance. It was an energetic end to a very inspirational day.