City of Seattle: Human Centered Design Project for StartupSeattle

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Background:

The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development hadn’t updated their StartupSeattle website in years, and they wanted to get a better idea of the type of people who used it.

Research Question:
“How might we connect tech startup founders and investors with the information and resources they need through the City of Seattle's website?"

Research Methods:

  • Ran a survey to collect relevant data and screen potential participants.

  • Conducted over 2.5 hours of semi-structured interviews with founders and investors.

  • Created a literature review from over 20 articles, journals, and books

  • Held a focus group and conducted an affinity diagramming exercise with the Mayor of Seattle and 20 tech startup founders and investors.

Key Insights:

  • Although most local tech investors invest in companies that are based regionally, there are also advantages to having a  global deal flow.

  • While the journey of each tech startup founder is nuanced and different from the next, there is a sometimes a need for structured and streamlined guidance.

  • It is debatable whether entrepreneurs are born or made, however a dimension of their journey that has significant impact on their success is whether their environment is well-resourced or obstacle-laden.

Lessons Learned:

  • When designing this research study, the critical theory methodology provided a lens which aligned well with the City’s desire to understand how issues of race, gender, and power help or hinder tech startup founders and investors.

  • Since I hired and managed a UX Designer that worked with me on the research, ideation, and prototyping and evaluation phases of the study, I had to be confident of my understanding in each of these areas.

David Harris