Nate Lu, co-founder of Spire, Executive Director for AXS, and Art Center graduate, has a unique passion for design and creativity. “Creativity reveals truth.” A few words from Nate on Tuesday night during the Zuventurez PITCH workshop. Nate believes that creativity helps entrepreneurs and their investors, visualize the goal. We all know of the “awkward steps” that sit at the base of west campus. If you do not know what they are, but at anytime walking to class, you asked yourself the question if you should lunge or short step up the stairs, well, you found them. Nate Lu, referred to these stairs as he explained the importance of creativity and design thinking. He summed up design thinking in four points that are crucial for the Zuventurez PITCH teams to learn and apply to their pitches.

Empathizing is the first step in the five step process. This allows for the designer to get a deeper understanding of what and who he is designing for. Going back to the awkward step analogy, designers would need to recognize the problem and build a solution that positively impacts the school (the what) and the students (the who) who are affected by the awkward steps. In previous workshops we have discussed how to define a problem and discover a solution. This is similar to empathizing, in the way that we found a problem, we empathize with it, and then begin taking the necessary steps to solve it.

Next we are looking to establish an understanding of user needs. This brings us to our second step: Define. Why are we redesigning the awkward steps? This is a crucial question to ask yourself in any startup. Why are you doing the thing you are doing? Let’s say that the awkward steps are causing a lot of injuries. We want to prevent injuries, and we believe that our new design will do that.

The third step is to ideate. How can we make the awkward steps less awkward? Nate Lu stated, “If we're going to ideate, we have to push ourselves beyond our capacities.” This forces us to brainstorm in specific ways to begin solving the problem. Investors do not just want to know why you are going to solve the problem, but they want to know how.

After prototyping, which is step four, our last step, step five, is to test. The most important aspect when it comes to testing, is forming statistics. “According to our study, 96% of the school body has experienced falling on the awkward steps. After placing a ramp alongside of the awkward steps, we noted that when using the ramp, only 2.5% of people had tripped.” Investors want to see the statistics. They want to know that the product they are investing in is a product .

The challenge for the next two weeks is to understand your marketplace. Who are your customers, who are your competitors, what problem are you solving, and why do they need to invest in it? The best way to do this is to get creative with your idea. Make your design tell a story. Nate Lu, believed that his calling was to be a designer, and wanted to connect with other designers who felt they were called to do the same. Because of this, he co-founded Spire. Spire is an online blog for Christian designers, which feature encouraging, thought-provoking and creative resources for designers. For designers or entrepreneurs looking for more creative inspiration, I highly recommend checking out the blogs on Spire (link for website below).