Design Future is a community and accelerator aiming to help designers change the world and their careers by empowering them to take an entrepreneurial path. We’ve just launched a platform and marketplace that offers support for them to start companies and projects, raise capital and grow.
I think designers have the ability to change the world and advance society and business, but often this talent is untapped by client work, so we wanted to change this pattern. Also, their attention to detail and creative potential are unique skills, so I truly believe by enabling and supporting them to create companies can enable profit-focused impact.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
Like many designers out there, I got tired of doing client work. At that point, I started to notice that many of the clients I worked for were start-ups, which got me thinking and I started to research. That was when I found Designer Fund, a US based company who invests in designer founders. They have been very successful with businesses like Stripe, Omada, Netlify etc, they proved that designers make great founders. At the same time, I knew there is a gap in the market in the UK when it comes to entrepreneurship: designers and people in general tend to be less entrepreneurial than in the US. So I decided to start this movement and change the scenery. I know that some of the best world changing ideas have been started by designer founders and I wanted to encourage that creative spirit to help people to design their future.
How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
We recently launched Design Future, which means a huge part of our development has been during the pandemic. This gave me time to rethink my career, pause, and put together a business plan. The process of starting a business, approaching co-funders, building a pitch, and securing funding took me around 7 months – it’s never overnight.
During our research we realised there are 2 types of designers that we wanted to help: those with an initial idea for a business but unsure of where to begin and those who have made progress with their idea but need help with funding and we wanted to help both so created the ‘start’ and ‘raise’ strands of Design Future.
What can we hope to see from Design Future in the future?
We see ourselves as a practical ‘university’ for designer founders – offering relevant tools, mentoring, and funding, allowing them to follow a different path than the traditional client-work one. The existing educational system doesn’t focus strongly enough on life skills – this actually reminds me of a friend of mine who told me that he didn’t use any of his degrees whatsoever, but made a career out of the one thing he did as extra-curricular: a public speaking workshop. We usually learn things from experience and from our affinities.
Design Future offers a new kind of education, 100% focused on designers. Their typical career path is to set up an agency, work for a design company or set up as a freelancer and keep doing client work. Despite their latent talent, designers do not always consider leveraging their creativity to build innovative companies. We want to empower designers, show them that there is an alternative and help them succeed.