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Design By Fire: Industrial Design Students Experience Startup Weekend

Posted March 17, 2014 in Competitions

Forget working for the weekend – a group of KCAD students recently decided to make their weekend work for them by immersing themselves in the frenetic playground of design, collaboration, and networking that is Startup Weekend.

Held annually since 2010 at local coworking space The Factory, Startup Weekend is among the many incredible opportunities KCAD students have to actively engage with the local design and entrepreneurial communities. The idea is simple: gather a team, pitch an idea, and spend the next 54 hours cooking up market strategies, brainstorming ideas, and prototyping products and business models before presenting an idea for a new startup to a room full of designers, entrepreneurs, and business professionals.

KCAD students working during startup weekend

Team Body Buffer hones their idea during Startup Weekend

“Everyone was just buzzing with this passion to create, and we really fed off of that energy,” said Brooke Ruble, a senior Industrial Design major. She and fellow KCAD students Ryan Vaughan, Evan Knudsen, Wendy Ballard, Jordan Eastwood, and Colin Crowel spent the weekend conceptualizing, designing, and pitching Body Buffer, a product that essentially combines a reservoir of body wash with a detachable scrubbing pad to help users save time and water in the shower.

Team Body Buffer (left to right): Brooke Ruble, Ryan Vaughan, Evan Knudsen, Wendy Ballard, Jordan Eastwood, and Colin Crowel

Team Body Buffer (left to right): Brooke Ruble, Ryan Vaughan, Evan Knudsen, Wendy Ballard, Jordan Eastwood, and Colin Crowel

In addition to formulating one of the 12 ideas out of a total of 25 that the judges deemed most ready for development, the KCAD Body Buffer team took home honors for Best Execution.

“I think [the Body Buffer] resonated with people because it dealt with such a common thing; everyone showers and everyone uses soap of some sort,” Ruble pointed out. “You have to make people wonder why your product doesn’t already exist.”

Design overview of the Body Buffer

Conceptual rendering of The Body Buffer

That’s not easy to do when you only have a few hours to orchestrate a compelling five-minute presentation. It’s even harder when the audience is larger and more diverse than the typical Industrial Design classes these students are used to presenting in front of. But rather than be intimidated, team Body Buffer excelled because they forced themselves outside of their comfort zones and embraced this new challenge as an opportunity for growth.

Brooke Ruble presenting at Startup Weekend

Brooke Ruble presents her team's idea to the Startup Weekend crowd

“It’s opened up my mind,” Vaughan said of the experience. “A lot of us designers get stuck in designer world, but to bring a design from idea to conception, there’s so much more than just the design aspect that comes in. You need business people, you need graphics, you need writing; it’s a totally different mindset.”

Now that they have a better grasp of the “big picture” of design, the students will carry that mindset with them as they continue to develop their design talents.

Design thinking in action! Team Body Buffer's brainstorming session

Design thinking in action! The results of one of Team Body Buffer's many collaborative brainstorming sessions

“It’s this idea of knowing that you can’t do everything by yourself and that you have to be able to reach out to other resources and learn and grow from their insights,” said Ruble. “The amount of drive and passion that was packed into that room for three days was mind blowing, and it makes me want to work harder. It’s a really inspiring feeling to be a part of.”

Go Further

Ryan Vaughan explains the concept and development of the Body Buffer.

Learn more about Startup Weekend.


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