Shape team culture in startups through co-creation.

Five months
Individual Project
The Challenge

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 output (Master‘s Thesis).



The Outcome
Need-based concept, Service Offering, Service Design, Identity


Initial observations from feedback of fellow tech-founders and my personal experience within the TUM startup context point to teams failing due to problems in their team culture.

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

Need Identification

Immersing into the startup ecosystem

Observe if and how tech-driven startups and scaleups develop their team culture and design integration, by interviewing founders, their employees, affiliated designers and people from the TUM support ecosystem. Understanding the context and gaining key insights.

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).

Filtering needs

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

Concept & Strategy

Synthesising insights

Synthesising relevant insights for first service offering concepts. By processing and reframing the gathered research insights with an ERAF Systems diagram and other information visualisation, a service journey evolves that enables startup teams to shape their team culture through internal brand experiences.

Meta Level Concept

Service Offering

Prototyping concepts

The concept of enabling startup teams to shape their team culture through co-creation, facilitated by a designer, comes to life. 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. The concept is iterated into tangible workshops.

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.

Iterating the Co-Creation Journey

The iterated offering includes a toolkit, consisting of a guide book and large worksheets for each activity and enables teams to continuously work on their culture.

Service Design

Service Journey Concept

In order to offer the co-creation journey to startup teams, a concept for the surrounding service was created.

The core of the service offering is to facilitate creating internal identity experiences that communicate the core values to all employees. It works in such a way that, after the initial run, the teams can repeat their team development without an external facilitator.


Defining and designing the identity

A unique appearance for a unique service. The identity design is based on a strong core of values, strategy and principles, all of which were developed in workshops. It was the goal to create a simple system that gives the service touchpoint a cohesive and unique experience.

Detailing service touchpoints

Everything needed to facilitate the co-creation journey was designed in detail, integrating what was learned from user testing.

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 experience creation.