Recap: DesignMeets… Start-Ups

Start-Ups. Is this the new name for Canadian entrepreneurialism? Or is it another evolution of our business culture?

Our speakers from last week’s event would probably have varying answers, but the underlying thought was clear — design and start-ups are inextricably linked. Whether you believe that iteration and testing are conducive to a successful launch or that early launches with many failures lead to a better product, either way our speakers seemed each to dance around the fact that Design (with a capital ‘D’) is what finds it’s way into the fibres of an idea. It seems no matter what personal journey or product/service process you take to evolve/launch an idea, the big picture is tied together with strands of design. From user research to icon design, from design support to design inspiration, even the design of the story behind your business, the big D is integral to Start-Up success.

See below for speaker summaries, and click here to download a guest blog post written by one of our event attendees from People and Code. Thanks for the write-up, Kevin Yu!

Speaker Recap


In his current role as a Senior Partner, Consulting, Sal Rabbani discussed the importance of putting entrepreneurs first, the keys to building and sustaining a supporting team/network and the key attributes of a formidable funder.

Mike Lovas shared his academic journey throughout medical studies which then lead him into the world of design and product development. Mike spoke of the theory and process of bringing a product to market using design. Currently on the team at PUSH Design, he’s working with them to release a game-changing acti-fit device to market, hopefully in time for the holiday season!

Inbae Ahn‘s passionate talk on the topic of being self-sustainable in a VC market that isn’t always looking into the development of entrepreneurs captivated the room. He is leading by example as the founder of Stone Soup which is dedicated to focusing on the the development of entrepreneurs and will result in creating a significant number of fundable companies.

Johnny Chauvet & Jean-Luc David, the dynamic duo, told their story of how they built the CardignApp and why it’s important to validate early and adapt quickly when designing. They emphasized why it is more important to be “less hulk and more Bruce Lee”. As the night progressed, he brought out his Google Glass and was happy to share and let the audience try it on. (Only 1 of 6 Google Glass in Canada, folks!) — Thanks Jean-Luc!

Jonathan Carr-Harris, who recently sold his successful start-up, urged the start-ups not to give up! Failure can only be measured if something is not learned from the experience. With inspiration in the form of a brief history lesson, he spoke of some of the earliest entrepreneurs and their barriers — like when Henry Ford was told his ideas were ridiculous and wouldn’t go anywhere. Persevere, friends!


What’s Next?

What’s next is a new idea on Design and Public Policy. Drop us a line… to find out more and to see how you can be involved in planning the event.

See photos from this event on flickr.