Shumka Centre / Design for Startups | Spring 2019

Design for Startups is a unique program in which student designers join early-stage company teams to work on a specific design problem.

Through this initiative, we have developed and tested a new model for connecting the art and design university with early-stage companies through accelerators and VC-backed portfolios.

Spring 2019
Over the course of 12 weeks, ten student designers will work directly with the technical and business leads of ten BC companies to explore and develop a new methodology for connecting design to Internet startups. Student designers will consider existing design gaps, perform user interface/usability studies, and develop design strategies for the companies in residence. 


Spring 2019 company-student partnerships are:

The 100 Mile is an online marketplace that provides top ‘local’ brands with an exclusive platform for selling their products to a targeted, international consumer base. For both small, high-end brands seeking international clientele, and savvy consumers searching for originality and authenticity in the products they purchase, we are the connector. The 100 Mile promotes brands and their stories, putting their product lines in front of customers they could not otherwise reach, and handles all financial transactions. The company makes a 20% commission on all sales without having to carry inventory or handle fulfillment.

Sabrina Lam is a communication designer with a passion for interweaving both visual design and illustration. Throughout her practice, she has gained a strong interest in branding, publication design and visual storytelling. She has experience working with local businesses doing freelance design work such as creating brand identities and marketing materials. She’s also interested in human psychology and understanding the way humans behave. Sabrina’s passion lies in sharing her love for art and design with the community and weaving together creative, meaningful pieces that tell a story for years to come.

A&K Robotics is a self-driving technology company. We want to enable people to get more out of life by automating movement and travel indoors, where we spend 87% of our time. Our Autonomous Indoor Mobility (AIM) platform has been tested and deployed across a diverse array of complex real-world environments from retail spaces, to universities, to major transport hubs and is trusted by global leaders in the transportation, education and facility services industries.

Michelle Yao started her career as a Graphic and User Experience (UX) designer in her sophomore year at a Fintech startup in the Central Business District in Beijing, China. The fast-paced work environment taught her to prototype, iterate and optimize her product design sufficiently and responsibility. Majoring in Interaction Design and working in the Tech industry in the past few years, Michelle is longing to leverage her design skills to make technology more accessible to people and make people’s life easier.

CoPilot Advisor is a fast-growing, venture-backed SaaS/MarTech company based in Vancouver. We are on a 10-year mission to fundamentally change the way people connect with businesses. 3 billion people now live on social media, and yet, businesses and their sales teams are still largely operating on outdated tools like email and CRM. CoPilot’s A.I. platform offers businesses a single portal where they can interact with prospects and customers no matter which social media platform they’re on.

Amy Zhu likes to identify problems in our everyday lives and come up with user-friendly solutions for those problems. She also loves using storytelling as a medium to invoke empathy with users. Her design process is to always understand the user first and validate with them after.

Flow is an animation tool closing the production gap between design and development. With Flow, designs can be instantly animated and accurately translated into ready-to-use code, preserving the vision of the Designer while streamlining the workflow of the Developer.

Jonathan Yaputra is a Designer and Art Director currently based in Vancouver. His past and current work include art direction for nationwide TV ads, content creation and online ads, magazine and literary publication design, web design, brand identity package and layout design for clients such as United Nations, Unilever, Nestle, and BP. Previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, he is currently pursuing his Master of Design degree in Emily Carr University with a focus in developing visual interventions into the systems of fashion that touches upon communication design and advertising to garner information and devise sociopolitical change.

iaconicDesign is a team of product design specialists seamlessly blending the art of design with the science of engineering to create beautiful products customers love. Helping clients in the consumer electronics and clean-tech industries bring their product ideas to life through outsourced product design, prototyping and engineering consulting services as well as developing in-house smart home product solutions under the “Modena Smart Home” and “EVE Switches” brands.

Greyson Kelly is a third-year Communication Design Student. His love and passion for design stem from being interested in many different creative art forms including music, illustration, and pop culture as a whole. Greyson is constantly looking for new ways to enhance and learn new techniques in design. He pushes to challenge design norms by adding an experimental flare into some of his work, while still keeping it clean and precise. He is excited to work and build relationships with these local companies.

Keela is a BCorp and social enterprise on a mission to transform how nonprofits work. They’ve built a suite of software tools that teams at the YWCA, United Nation Association of Canada, and the Global Centre for Pluralism use to raise more money, work together more effectively, and ultimately take their donor dollars further.

Triet Pham is a communication designer currently based in Vancouver. He has a passion for type design, typography, data visualization, and branding. His interest lies in using design and illustration as a device for storytelling and visualizing information. Along with his practice, he has developed a keen interest in health design, specifically how design can connect with and enhance the users’ emotional journey. He believes design thinking and research can be a useful tool to help solve accessibility problems and support sustainability in everyday life.

TaxWerx is driven by the desire to make taxes less stressful, more convenient (and maybe even a little bit fun!), so that you have more time and energy to spend doing whatever it is you’d rather be doing. In other words, we do what we do, so that you can better do what you do, whether that’s family time, hobbies, business, gaming, the arts, etc.. We offer a convenient, fully-digital interaction, but provide personal, individualized service and advice to each client.

Janani Ramesh is currently a third-year interaction design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Through her practice, Janani has an increasing passion for interaction design, human-centred design, user-interface design, graphics and illustration. Having lived in India, the Netherlands and China before arriving in Vancouver, Canada, Janani puts a lot of care and effort into understanding multicultural contexts and takes pride in incorporating her cultural background in her design practice.

ThisFish is a leader in seafood traceability software that improves business efficiency and increases trust and transparency in seafood supply chains. Our mission is to improve the social, environmental, and financial sustainability of seafood enterprises.

Nathalie Pan is a communication designer pursuing her Bachelor of Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Her current interests lie in branding, motion graphics, typography, infographics, and screen design. She also enjoys photography during her free time. Over her years of study at Emily Carr, she began to develop a curiosity for UI design. She is interested in discovering the factors that will provide a quality user experience. She is passionate about conducting extensive research to seek the most ideal design solutions and finds the research process very enjoyable because of her eagerness to learn.

WealthBar is an online platform that delivers premium investing to everyday Canadians for 1/3 the fees. By leveraging technology to provide efficiencies and 5 star service, WealthBar is democratizing investing for everyday Canadians. We offer a range of professionally managed and diversified portfolios designs to suit every type of investor. We also provide unlimited financial advice through a Certified Financial Planner included in our fees. Through digital innovation, unlimited financial advice and diversified portfolios, we help our clients build the brightest financial future possible. 

Xinmiao Katherine Zhang was born in Northern China and spent her high school year in Texas. She is currently a third-year Interaction design student at Emily Carr University. She loves to explore the relationship between makers and users. She believes as technology becomes a part of our lives, building more connections between humans and digital software through human-centred design is crucial. She is always looking for fresh insights while exploring possibilities. is a central hub for personal planning and decision making. Visually map out financial and life choices and connect with tools to help facilitate those big decisions.

Elicia Han is a third-year Interaction Design student at Emily Carr University. Born in Taiwan, she moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2016. With her multi-cultural background, she has the strength of observing interpersonal interactions in different cultures, which lead her to focus on user experience design and human-centred design. Elicia is passionate about finding and solving problems using design thinking tools as well as finding meaningful and aesthetic user interfaces for screens by prototyping and user testing.

Part of Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship programming, this project is supported by Innovate BC.


Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship is generously supported by the Vancouver Foundation

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