shape team culture in startups through co-creation.

The Challenge

Master‘s Thesis. Observe a field of focus, identify a relevant need to society and define the topic of your thesis. With that, accomplish a full design process with equal parts of secondary research, design research and evaluated design work.

Individual Project
Five Months


Initial observations indicate a field worth exploring, originating from feedback of fellow tech-founders and my personal experience within the TUM startup context.

Startup teams (from the TUM context) gain substantial benefits when integrating design as from the beginning of their journey.

Startup teams in the TUM context spend little effort in caring for and developing their team culture.

Need Identification

Desk and Design Research

Understand how tech-driven startups develop team culture and design integration, by conducting desk research and interviewing founders, their employees, affiliated designers and people from the TUM support ecosystem, in order to explore and observe the context.

Startups and scaleups of the interviewees (internal & external designers, founders)

Key Insights


Discrepancy between active “cultivation” of the team culture and the expectations of investors.


Brand core and corporate design are existing in many startups, but are rarely actively practised in daily doing.


The premises of startups are often not very individual (co-working spaces, little money, frequent moves, ...).


Design awareness in the startup environment is often strongly focused on the level of design being (meaning) and not on the levels of doing (implementation) and thinking (process).

Need Filtering

Finding a promising need in all of the contextual insights.  Transforming observations to insights and then to underlying needs, which are later filtered according to desirability and validity.

Need statement

Concept & Strategy


Synthesising the relevant insights as boundaries for first service offering concepts. Processing and reframing the gathered research insights into a service journey, that enables startup teams to shape their team culture through internal brand experiences.

ERAF-systems diagram to visualise the connections between entities and insights.

Ideating concepts for a service offering that helps fulfill the identified need.

Meta Level Concept

Service Design

Concept Prototyping

Enabling Startup teams to shape their team culture through co-creation, facilitated by a designer. The co-creation journey is built on requirements of young teams,  such as flexibility due to rapidly changing environments and high amount of self-contribution to keep costs down.

Iterating the concept of co-creation into tangible workshops – the co-creation journey

Startup teams (from the TUM context) gain substantial benefits when integrating design as from the beginning of their journey.

User Testing

Testing the co-creation journey concept with the tech-startup KUMOVIS from beginning to end. Finding out why which parts of the prototyped workshops, activities and materials worked well and where adjustments are needed.

Preparation of Workshop Materials.

Testing activity to reflect on team culture values

Results of the identification activity.

Co-creation journey evaluation feedback sheet.

Iterated Co-Creation Journey Design

Co-Creation in a journey to shape team culture. The toolkit consists of a guide book and large worksheets for each activity and enables teams to continuously work on their culture.

Service Journey Concept

A facilitation service that works without external designer after the initial run. The core of the service offering is to facilitate creating internal brand experiences that communicate the core values to all employees.


Brand Definition and Design

A unique appearance for a unique service. The brand design is based on a strong definition of strategy and identity, developed through workshops with designers.

Poster summarising the culturise brand system guidelines .

Selected Service Touchpoints

Everything needed to facilitate the co-creation journey in detail design. The facilitator’s guide book provides the co-creation journey lead with all necessary information to explain every activity to the team. The activity worksheets help to support each activity in detail, so there is no organisational distraction from the content creation.