Service design for startups

I have been around in the startup community as a starter and as a consultant. During this same period I was teaching a data driven service design course at Aalto university. There was often an uneasy feeling within me when teaching as we should talk about methods and processes whereas in the “real world” we never spoke about processes and methods.

Where was the disconnect I wondered? Where the teachers too academic and out of touch with the market? Or were the startups just winging it and going forward without any clear idea where to go to? Neither is true but why is the difference so striking then?

The startup ecology is first that of people who can do, who can build and who have some or a very clear idea of what they are building. Then we the startup grows marketing people are hired or consultants are asked for advice. Then there is the investor of sorts with her or his input and promises and before you know it the focus is gone. Above all the joy has evaporated, I have seen this and it has happened to me as well.

When you startup something new you often start with an idea or even better, a vision. You have inside your mind this fluid notion of how things could be and you see the many moving parts to make this work. Sometimes it is a technology that does something better or faster or both but then the question is who will use it and how to reach them. I believe that this is the moment for a service designer to help or for the start-upper to apply service design methods.

I think some of the methods can be combined into a smarter self-service that you can use to check if you are still on a reasonably right track.