Exploring the role of design-as-strategy in consumer product start-ups

Jose Aldo Valencia Hernandez, Matthew Lievesley, Robert Young, Jose Omar Valencia Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Pinterest, Kickstarter and Airbnb are recognised as high-profile tech-sector unicorns (start-ups with $1bn valuations) and all had designers in their core founding teams. This illustrates the potential value of Design Approaches in entrepreneurship practice but raises the question: what does a design-based perspective add to contemporary modes of entrepreneurship?

This study presents a review of the literature on contemporary models of entrepreneurship and considers it in relation to the literature on design approaches. The paper focuses on consumer product start-ups in particular, where new technologies, services and supply-chains are accelerating the journey from idea to market. There is little academic literature about the role for design to provide entrepreneurial leadership in this context, and yet entrepreneurship studies show that a poor fit, between the product offered and what customers really value, continues to be a primary factor in why start-ups fail. From the disciplinary perspective, design should be well positioned to help business start-ups circumnavigate such pitfalls. The paper concludes by proposing a preliminary framework, which models recent theories of entrepreneurship and the prevailing theories of design. The value of the framework is that it characterises the Design Approach, finding both parallels and distinctiveness in relation to other models of entrepreneurship. As such, it has the potential to assist the correlation of theory and practice, leading to an improved understanding of the paths to successful entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
EventAcademic Design Management Conference ADMC18: Next Wave - Ravensbourne, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Aug 20182 Aug 2018


ConferenceAcademic Design Management Conference ADMC18
Abbreviated titleADMC18
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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