7 Creative Leaders Answer: What is a Design Entrepreneur?


That’s the question underpinning the HOW Design Live Creative Entrepreneur program and many of the #HOWLive podcast interviews, intended as “lively conversations with successful creative professionals and design entrepreneurs about the business of creativity and creativity in business.”

I have asked many of them this exact question: What is a Design Entrepreneur?

Here’s what they had to say:

Matt Manos, Founder & Managing Partner of verynice.co and author of “How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free”

from the HOWLive Podcast: How a Design Business Can Make an Impact


Matt said: A design entrepreneur is a designer who thinks beyond “project” – they see a project as something that is ongoing, something that does not have a set end-date. Most commonly, this is attributed to businesses who have designers as founders, or design as a crucial element of the value proposition. Instead of a design entrepreneur, I consider myself a facilitator of design entrepreneurship – I help people get there.

(Come hear Matt this year in Atlanta at HOWLive 2016.)

Mona Patel, CEO & Founder of Motivate Design

from the HOWLive Podcast: The Intersection of Design Thinking & Business Decisions


Mona said: As entrepreneurs, we build companies. Design is a way to grow your company. It’s not just aesthetics, It’s how things work. It’s about putting the customer at the center of your brand. I definitely see myself this way. I put design first.

(Come hear Mona this year in Atlanta at HOWLive 2016.)

Ken Zorovich, Founder of Zoku

from the HOWLive Podcast: On launching a product company without a safety net 


Ken said simply: Solving problems through design to bring value to customers.

(Come hear Ken this year in Atlanta at HOWLive 2016.)

Yo Santosa

from the HOWLive Podcast: The Pursuit of Passion and Design Entrepreneurship


Yo said, Someone who starts brands/business who comes from a creative field. I have started Ferroconcrete, Fruute, Commodity and LA Downtowner. A few more things are in the works 🙂

Preston Lee, Founder of Millo.co

from the HOWLive Podcast: How to Monetize a Blog


Preston said: A design entrepreneur is someone who is part creative, part business-builder. More importantly, a design entrepreneur cares as much about how their business is run as they do about their creative work. The best design entrepreneurs realize that one cannot live without the other. In order to continue to do creative work, they must master the art of building a business. And in order for their business to thrive, they must maintain a high level of creative integrity.

Karl Sakas, Sakas & Company

from the HOWLive Podcast: Strengthen Your Client Relationships with Strategic Services


A design entrepreneur is someone who’s created a business based on design. It might be a creative or marketing agency, or it might be a product business that revolves around good design.

Neil Brown and Jen Baker Brown, Baker Brown Co.

from the HOWLive Podcast: A Designer’s Social & Environmental Responsibility to the Future


Neil and Jen said: I don’t believe ‘design’ is an adjective, nor a valid modifier. Design is a process; it is a verb, it is active, it is experimentation, it is strategy, it is execution. Design is many things.

Entrepreneurship is much more than authorship. An entrepreneur is much more than a freelancer, or client service business. Those are small, operational businesses. Great businesses! But those are not entrepreneurial endeavors. Inherent to entrepreneurship is the attempt/ability to create exponential value creation. Monetizing the labor hour at 3x labor cost is not entrepreneurship, that’s simply a service business. Entrepreneurs are working to create valuation at a rate of 20x or more of labor cost.

We see ourselves as a designers, futurists, and in many cases entrepreneurs. At the moment, we’re not actively building an entrepreneurial endeavor. Rather we are working to develop a collective vision of the future, to then theorize various business models that we could begin building to exist and drive success in that future vision.

What about you? What is a design entrepreneur to you?


hwwtdvqsrkh8znndmleeIf you’ve ever wanted to be your own boss – to have the freedom to do what you want, when you want and especially, for whom you want, creative entrepreneurship is the way. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not a piece of cake, but if you are willing to do the work, the rewards are indescribable. But where do you start, and how do you cross over from doing side-projects with a full-time job, to running your own gig? Learn the ins and outs of creative entrepreneurship in the HOW Design University course, How to Start Your Own Freelance Business.