A few people have asked me what I am working on…

The short version;

I am moving to New York to join Prehype, a product innovation studio that help corporations build successful digital companies.

The slightly longer version;

Over the past year, I have had the fortune to be an Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Venture. Index is one of the most respected VCs and for good reasons. It is a group of amazing people who have a rare combination of incredible business intellect, venture experience and human empathy. I have also had the luxury of meeting a bunch of great entrepreneurs, spent quality time with inspiring industry fellow travelers and worked on interesting products like basno.com and hotpotato.com (recently sold to facebook).

Why

What have fascinated me the most is the shift in the skills needed to make a successful company/product. My thesis is that the 90s was all about innovation within technology, the 00s was about innovation within social engineering and robustness and the next area of innovation is all about Experience Design (see my earlier post about this). We have moved from a time where a product only had to be functional to be successful, through the 90s where it also had be reliable, fast and reliable  and into the 00s where it had to be social. Now, in the 2010s, a product needs to be enjoyable – an experience that not only solved your problem – but also make you enjoy the process of doing it. The new skills needed to create these experiences are linked to design, but ranges much wider and includes: perceptual psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, architecture and environmental design, ethnography, interaction design, storytelling, heuristics, and design thinking. While this type of thinking is well known in the offline product development world, it seems to be something that we have yet to embrace in the online world. (althought companies like Gilt Group, Groupon, Zappos and Etsy are catching on quickly)

So what does prehype do?

Prehype is a studio that partners with corporations, angel investors and venture backed start-ups to build successful companies. Here is a few reasons why people work with us. We are hoping to take the best of several companies we really respect; The understanding of Experience Design from Ideo, the innovative approach to business models of Fahrenheit 212 and the entrepreneurship of Betaworks. The mixture of those three is a new form of experience design innovation studio.

Corporates work with us when;

  • They have great internal entrepreneurs but don’t have a process for them to invent great new businesses
  • They believe that quick product development, great experience design and shared risk is key to innovation.
  • When they want to build successful tech start-ups but their internal organization doesnt have the DNA to do so.

Founders and investors approach us when;

  • The user experience of a product is bad or broken.
  • They need experienced creative product developers to help launch, pivot or accelerate a digital company

We will also do a few of our own projects. Most will be what we call ‘research’ projects (see website for details) while others will become substantial enough to be spun out as separate ventures and become clients of ours (e.g. basno.com)

Overall, I am incredible excited about it all, I love New York already – and the people I work with there are both kind and truly inspiring.

Onwards and upwards… Rock’n’Roll