Building Capability: Starting Up/ Gearing Up

The Business of Design D.Cast is a discussion about running a design business or design in a business.

We’re looking at a range of subjects but covering a single theme for each episode. We’re looking for insights, experience and anecdotes to share with the audience and we’ve prepared the questions below as thought/discussion starters.

However, It’s less an interview and more a discussion. 

Other D.Casts

Starting Up/Gearing Up

In this D.Cast Session we discuss starting and gearing up.

Design businesses start for a variety of reasons – opportunity, economics, ambition, adversity –  and I’m sure that there are many out there who have considered or are considering starting their own gig.

We’ll share some insights from four partners from two businesses discussing their experiences and learning. We’ll cover from conception and planning to some more pragmatic topics like setting up a studio.

Concepts Explored:
- Getting a team of experts
- Finding clients and work
- Cashflow runway
- Equipment
- Software
- Suppliers
- Leases

Questions
What motivated you to start your own business? And what was the economic environment like at the time?

What was your timeframe from idea to reality, and what steps did you take to get there?

We’re exploring the idea of a team of experts in this D Cast, so what professionals did you engage for advice when setting up?

If you could go back and do it again what would you have done differently, or invested more time, money or effort in? What mattered then but didn’t in the end?

What advice would you give someone starting out? 

Having started from scratch a couple of times, I always thought each time has been different. Now we’re living in a (nearly) post-COVID world how do you think this has changed starting a business? Remote working? Cloud servers? Co-working spaces? 

As we’ve moved to a more digital process there’s less requirements for a physical studio but what are your essentials for set up?

Relationships and partnerships are key for any business, for you, did you use the people you were using in your previous job or did you find a new set of suppliers and contractors?

With equipment, do you lease or own? And why?

Introducing our Panel:

Pictured: Ben Thomson (left), Oliver McDermott (right).

Oliver McDermott PDINZ, Blender
In 2006 Oliver co-founded Blender Design – an Auckland based product design company along with two friends. Since then he has built and led a passionate young team of product design experts and together we help build successful products and businesses from great ideas. 

Oliver has worked and will continue to work in a range of industries: consumer electronics, architectural hardware, marine & outdoors, consumer products, office furniture, animal health, clean-tech, electric vehicles, and more…

Ben Thomson DINZ, Blender
After graduating in 2007 and co-founding Blender Design, for more than 10 years, Ben has worked with some amazing people to conceptualise, prototype, problem-solve, and realise product ideas. From this, Ben has gained a huge amount of knowledge & experience in the product development process, materials & engineering, and design for manufacture. From partnering with enthusiastic clients, to getting stuck in with awesome coworkers, Ben loves bringing together new ideas and awesome people to make things happen.

Ben has previously spent two years living in Shanghai, China. Focusing on both NZ clients who are seeking prototyping and manufacturing capabilities as well as being close to our China-based clients.

Pictured: Noel Blackwell (left), Damian Alexander (right).

Noel Blackwell FDINZ, LIKEMINDS
Noel is an experienced Strategy Director and creative thinker with a demonstrated history of leadership in the design industry. Skilled in Brand reinvention, repositioning and development, Strategic Planning, Marketing Strategy, Business Strategy and Integrated Marketing. A strong facilitator and business development professional with a Bachelor of Commerce - BCom - focused on International Business/Trade/ marketing and behavioural psychology from The University of Auckland.

Damian Alexander DINZ, LIKEMINDS
Co-founder & Creative director  LIKEMINDS, producer DINZ Films, ex Designworks.

Creative partner L I K E M I N D S - Multi disciplinary creative. Ideas, design, film, photography and music. Vocalist and writer for multi platinum bands Blindspott and Blacklistt. Ambassador for Harley Davidson.

A series brought to you by Gideon Keith PDINZ, Seven, DINZ board member (left) and Ryan Ward PDINZ, Archant, DINZ board member (right)

DINZ Interviews

When the opportunity arises, DINZ interviews leading designers from here and overseas. These interviews seek to dig beneath the surface to address the common and uncommon challenges, problems and opportunities the design community faces.