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IXD302 | DES311 Creative Entrepreneurship

This module introduces students to the ideas and principles, which underpin creative entrepreneurship, placing a heavy focus on the emerging and rapidly growing field of digital product design.

Through a focus on companies and individuals that have built digital products – from the very large (for example, global tools like Facebook and Twitter) to the very small (for example, sole designers developing products like icons and typefaces) – students are encouraged to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.


  • Week 01: What is Creative Entrepreneurship?
  • Week 02: The Creative Process
  • Week 03: Visiting Lecture: Dr Rachel Gawley, App Attic
  • Week 04: Stand Out From The Crowd
  • Week 05: Foundations, Goals and Brands
  • Week 06: Group Critique #1 - Icons
  • Week 07: Minimum Viable Product
  • Week 08: Digital Pricing Models
  • Week 09: Visiting Lecture: Mr Adam McPeake, Hype Factory & ILB
  • Week 10: Who Owns What
  • Week 11: Life as an Entrepreneur
  • Week 12: Group Critique #2 - Icons and Final Websites

Class Times

  • Lectures: Fridays: 11.15-12.15
  • Tutorials:
    • IXD: Fridays 13:00-15:00 (IxD Studio)
    • IMD: Wednesdays 10.00-12.00 (IMD Lab)

Detailed View

Week 01 – What is Creative Entrepreneurship?

29 September, 2017

So, what makes an entrepreneur?

"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” Nolan Bushnell, Entrepreneur

The term entrepreneur, in part has come to mean someone who has his or her own startup or business. The difference between an entrepreneur and a small business lies in the income generated. Where a small business may generate an income that may replace traditional employment an entrepreneur will generate substantial wealth. This wealth is often created much quicker than traditional business methods, a five year span isn’t unusual.


Recommended Reading


These were shown as a way to illustrate what is possible under the banner of icon design please find your own inspiration and resources. The wider you cast your creative net, the more benefits you will reap.

Designing Icons

The following resources might help you start to plan your icon set.

Tasks for this Week

  • Setup your Research Blog <!important>
  • Find three icon designers and talk about their work
  • Look at designing icons resources

Week 02 – The Creative Process

06 October, 2017

“Spend time falling in love with things that aren’t design, and let those things influence your work. Inspiration comes from everywhere and all good designers talk about how much they’re inspired by architecture, fine art, books, nature, etc.” –Jessica Hische

The creative process is unique for everyone, there is no single formula for getting ‘into the zone’ and starting those creative juices flowing.

There are however, a few things we can do to help. James Webb Young’s excellent little book, ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’ sets out a process that can help us a develop our ideas.

He suggests:

  1. Gather raw material – Not just for the project in hand but gather material for everything that interests you. As Hische says in the quote above, ‘inspiration comes from everywhere’, so start gathering.

  2. Digest what you have gathered – Once you have exhausted your research, allow time for the material to assimilate.

  3. Unconscious processing – Sleep on it and allow your subconscious do the hard work for you.

  4. Everything clicks into place – As Young calls it “a-ha! moment” when your idea seemingly comes out of thin air.

  5. Idea meets reality – As Young puts it your idea meets “the cold, grey dawn of the morning after,” and has to face reality. This is when you can seek feedback from your peers to check how robust your idea is.

Of course, on occasions it isn’t as straightworward as this, but over time, and with experience, things will start to click into place.

Developing habits prior to starting work helps get the mind ready, it tells the brain, ‘now is the time for creativity, so let’s get on with it!’



Tasks this week

  • Setup Blog Please
  • Immerse Yourself in More icons
  • Complete a Mind Map to get an Idea
  • Master Apprentice - One Icon

Week 03 – Stand Out From The Crowd

13 October, 2017

This weeks lecture content has changed. Unfortunately Dr. Rachel Gawley was unable to come as a guest speaker. We will continue with the lecture series until we get a replacement

“You can be stronger when you are not wanting it, if you just do it out of love and trust, then that is when you find what you are looking for.” –Samuel T Herring.

There are literally hundreds, globally, thousands, of young and up-and-coming designers and developers emerging onto the jobs market every year. In today’s session we asked. What can you do to stand out from the crowd?

The common traits you’ll find in everyone who’s successful, is that have a story, they’re creating interesting work and they’re building relationships. Attending events, being active on the web, Twitter, Dribbble, Linkedin, etc, counts. When someone you respect does something great, take a few moments to let them know what you think, it’s a big part of being a good human. And there can never be enough of them.





Tasks for this Week

  • Settle on a theme for your icons - what are you going to do
  • Complete Master Apprentice Excercises
  • Start to make the rest of the icons
  • A 2-3 of your icons - not just the master apprentice icons but a start on your own icon set
  • Put these on your blog.

Week 04 – Foundations, Goals and Brands

20 October, 2017

This week we will talk about building a strong foundation, Creating a business model that works for you, defining your business structure, how to choose a right name and the one page business plan.

We will also discover the right way to set audacious goals and how to take action on them.

We will finish by taking a quick look at Branding. What is it and how can you use it effectively. Learning to be yourself by creating a brand personality by developing a brand experience.

Tasks for this Week

  • Make sure you have started to create your own icons (there should be 6 for the crit in week 06.
  • Should be made in illustrator or sketch

Week 05 – Minimum Viable Product

27 October, 2017

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” —Eric Ries

A plain doughnut, like our minimum viable product offers a small, entry level product to test the market upon which we can scale based on interest. If the market likes it we can add a variety of toppings and flavours to expand our product and reach a wider audience.

We need to get the core serving of our product right first before we can add more features.

Through the eyes of one of the founders Joe Gebbia, we took a look at how Airbnb grew from a blowup mattress and breakfast in the front room of his shared apartment to the world-wide phenomenon it is today.


Tasks for this Week

  • I want to see 6 completed icons for the critique next week (remember final submission will be at least 12)

Week 06 – Group Critique #1

03 November, 2017

A group critique encouraging peer learning, this session affords an opportunity to gather feedback on the work done to date. Expect honest opinions, expressed fairly.

This critique affords the students formative feedback, providing them with an opportunity to address any issues and to improve the quality of the submission before the January hand-in.

Week 07 – Guest Lecturer: Dr. Phil Strain, Spotify

10 November, 2017

This week, User Experience researcher, Phil Strain from Spotify will talk about his journey from Music, running his own company to working with some of the giants in our industry. Sure to be a good one.

Tasks for this Week

  • Start to paper prototype your ideas for Promotional Website
  • Continue to make one icon a week to complete the 12

Week 08 – Guest Lecturer: Adam McPeake Hype Factory and ILB

17 November, 2017

This week, Designer, Adam McPeake who runs Hype Factory and I Love Bass will talk about his journey from final year project to running a production company travelling the globe. He will also give insights into running a car show right here in Belfast called Districts. Who said design just had to be for the web?

Week 09 – Digital Pricing Models

24 November, 2017

“As with all matters of pricing, there’s no “one true way”, but there are lots of wrong turns and dead ends. Avoid those and you’re in good shape.” – Des Traynor, Intercom

Pricing your product appropriately ensures that you can reach as wide an audience as possible. Do it right and your product, provided it’s something people want, will be a success. Get it wrong and you are likely to under, or over price yourself out of the market.

Quality, Price and Demand

It all comes down to the quality of your product and the demand. Apple currently have it right. Their computers may be a lot more expensive than many similar PCs, but people are more than willing to pay more for that perceived quality. That will only last as long as Apple are able to meet consumer demands for a high quality, innovative, reliable product.

Pricing your product all depends on what’s on offer. MailChimp offers volume sales with a tiered pricing structure. Their success depends on companies sending out tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of emails per month and paying for that service. As the volume increases then so does the monthly cost.

Offering a tiered pricing structure provides people with the option to start low and build up from there. TinyBooks Pricing Plan offers the user a range purchasing option.

With three pricing options £72, £18 and £9, Tinybooks have given themselves a 80/20 chance that people will take up one of the options. With only one option the user is left with a buy or don’t buy option, cutting down that chance of a purchase to 50/50.

How much should we charge?

Most businesses are eventually faced with the key question: How much should we charge? There is no one true answer.

  • Believing everyone should be happy to pay for your product.

  • Believing there is some mythical “perfect” price which extracts maximum revenue from every single customer.

  • Believing product pricing can never be changed once chosen.

  • Delaying charging indefinitely as a result of 1, 2 and 3.

Other options can include leaving the decision of what to pay up to the customer. Lost Type leave it up to the buyer to pay what they feel the fonts are worth. With a minimum price per font, they are guaranteed enough to cover their own costs.

If you are offering your product for free, rather than simply giving is away, adding a Pay with a Tweet option can reward your hard work with a little more publicity and a wider audience.


Roll your own payment buttons

Online Carts

Community Stores


Tasks for this Week

  • Continue to make one icon a week
  • Start to develop out your promotional website
  • Consider Digital Pricing Models

Week 10 – Who Owns What

01 December, 2017

You might be creating original works, you might be creating derivative works or you might be appropriating your material. Regardless, it’s important to familiarise yourself with questions of ownership, copyright and issues around plagiarism.


Week 11 – Life as an Entrepreneur

08 December, 2017

What is life like as an Entrepreneur? We will go through all the different things people think when we say sure be and Entrepreneur. We will focus on managing expectations, entrepreneur myths, how to stay balanced, focused and effective and how to get things done by letting go of perfection, facing fears and setting boundaries.

Tasks for this Week

  • Finish Icon Set and Website for Critique next week

Week 12 - Final Review and Group Critique #2

15 December, 2017

A group critique encouraging peer learning, this session affords an opportunity to gather feedback on the work done to date. Expect honest opinions, expressed fairly.

This critique affords the students formative feedback, providing them with an opportunity to address any issues and to improve the quality of the submission before the January hand-in.

A more detailed breakdown of the assessment, with deliverables, is available here.