Entrepreneurship is about making decisions. It can be hard, depending on the impact it could have personally and professionally. So, you look at every signal which can help you making the right choice. Sometimes it is easy to interpret them, and more often, you do things more by intuition. It becomes more complicated when you look for the balance between rationality and what you are feeling in the moment. In this article, I want to talk about the different signals that pushed us to switch from a design agency to a product-based startup. So, what are the signals that motivate us to build a collaborative UX design tools platform?
We started as a UX design and innovation agency
For those who don’t know yet, we used to be a design agency. We started évolt in 2015 to help clients build and improve digital products and the overall experience of their services. We could work with large international companies on their innovation strategy such as creating a digital product from scratch with tiny startups. We were a young team of UX/UI designers, UX researchers, developers, digital marketing experts, etc.
Ten years ago, when I talked about Design Thinking, it was challenging to be heard. When we started évolt in 2015, companies started to be more aware of the user-centric approach, and it was not hard to convince them to put in practice. Nowadays, design thinking is trending and almost mainstream. Everyone claims to be a design expert. It’s again hard to be heard and create confidence with clients. The land is saturated.
The golden age of the design thinking approach
The ‘gold rush time’ of design thinking is happening now. As I said, from freelancers to large consultant companies, everyone sells design skills. Indeed, from 2015 to theses days, we saw two phenomenons:
The rise of UX design freelancers
The first one is the rise of independent experts in design thinking that you can hire easily from freelancers platform for just a workshop or middle-long term mission. You can find excellent experts with good portfolios. As large companies used to work with middle and big agencies, it is now common for them to work with freelancers. They are not afraid anymore about that kind of business relationship. It is more flexible to work with an independent designer/consultant, and sometimes they can build trust quickly. And of course, the price is lower. When you are a small design agency, it becomes hard to compete in terms of budget. It was the first signal that makes us think about changing the agency-based model.
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When Capgemini, Mckinsey, Accenture, and IBM became design experts
In 2013, Accenture acquired Fjord, a London-based global service design consultancy that specializes in creating digital experiences and services for consumers. In 2018, Capgemini bought Adaptative Lab, another London-based design studio. IBM deployed 57 IBM design studios around the world. It is clear that giant consulting companies made design their own because they understood that design becomes critical in the way we build products and services. Companies want a “Netflix-Like,” a “Uber-Like,” a “Airbnb-Like,” startups that invested a lot in design.
Why can you compete with the most prominent consulting agencies when you’re a small agency? It was hard for us to face that competition with some customers. It is less risky for a manager in a big company to hire IBM than évolt—which is okay, we understand that. However, if he fails, he can say that he hired the best. It was like David against Goliath. We needed to be different and bring some new values to our clients. All of that helped us to think about our switch once again.
Inhouse design thinking experts
Large organizations compete now with startups and unicorns that change the market’s rules. Faced with those new challenges, they try to switch to a different mindset, becoming more agile and creative—innovation labs with buzzwords on the wall pop up like popcorn inside every large organization. Besides putting up creative workspaces that contrast with old company culture, they also try to attract new creative talents to join the task force and transform the company culture. While they used to work with agencies, they now want in-house designers, developers, digital creatives, and the like. In this context, we saw clients becoming more and more autonomous in execution. It was a signal for us that we needed to change the way we sold our services.
How to scale the design mindset in this organization
Spreading a new mindset is not just about hiring designers that you put into a creative workspace. These large companies are not stupid; they know this is just the first step. They don’t just need a designer to inspire with their artistic skills but to be the apostle of a new culture. They are in charge of infusing a new mindset into the company. They also have to put the methodology into practice with different teams. In general, the in-house creative team is transversal and works with all departments. They deploy a creative process and structure toolkits to help their fellow team members embrace the methodology easily. Indeed, their role as an innovative leader is to scale the methods to non-creative people. It is hard and takes years to change people’s mindsets.
We saw an opportunity here to help large companies scale the design process quickly and easily. That purpose drives our vision in some ways. We want to give everyone the power to design. How can non-design experts learn and put the methodology to practice in a natural way?
A passion for product design and UX design tool
The last thing that pushed us to change our model and build a collaborative UX design tools was passion. Design is more than a methodology for us; it is a state of mind. And we want to incorporate that vision into intuitive products that will guide our users to a new way of thinking. We love building digital things and are like kids making a treehouse. We are proud of it, and we want to invite you in 😉 So, we are pleased to invite you to join our community and test our platform for free. Let’s design the future together!