IDEX Design Thinking Camp

The IDEX Accelerator is a career launch-pad for aspiring social enterprise practitioners. IDEX’s 6 month program offers intense field experience and leadership training curriculum that equips fellows with the equivalent of 2 years marketable work experience that’s relevant to social enterprise employers.

The IDEX fellows have now been associated with DREAM:IN for nearly 2 years. In 2012, a number of IDEX fellows became DreamCatchers and captured entrepreneurial Dreams for DREAM:IN Next Gen. This year, Daniel Oxenhandler (one of last year’s fellows) took over from his predecessor as the IDEX programme coordinator. He is currently co-coordinating the program with Joe Kent (another former IDEX fellow) and is looking after the group based in Bangalore. Daniel and Joe were very eager to work with DREAM:IN right from the start of their fellowship. They had approached DREAM:IN and asked us to do a design thinking workshop for them. Instead of doing another workshop, we offered to help them develop their ideas* and reframed the initial plan, designing a process and a camp (based on DREAM:IN and Idiom’s earlier experience). Sonia Manchanda and Raji Math took over to create and conceptualise the Idex Design Thinking Camp.

*The fellows were split in to 5 teams and were asked to create social venture ideas/plans of their own, and over the 6 month fellowship, through different programs, they were going to try and create sustainable businesses out of the ideas that they had come up with.


Prior to the IDEX Design Camp, the fellows had a day long workshop at Jaaga where they came up with 5 different ideas (Given below). Meanwhile, Daniel and Joe had met with the DREAM:IN Team to plan a workshop to help the fellows flesh out their ideas and help take them to the next level. Given DREAM:IN’s expertise in events like this, a two day workshop was planned that was to bring design thinking to stage zero of the value creation process by questioning plans and notions and opening up possibilities, combining the facets of big Dreams, visions and scenarios, supporting them with hard facts, plans and prototypes. The goal would be to create a compelling venture argument that blends critical and creative thinking, to help take original ideas to market as projects or ventures. The Camp was planned over the 5th and the 6th of October, 2013. The focus would be on practical work – to bring the idea alive, to make it as believable as possible


Prior to the IDEX Design Camp, Dreams of the fellows were captured. This included some serious questioning about the plan that will help the Dreamers prepare for the camp and make their plans even more actionable. These Dreams were uploaded on to for everyone to view and post their feedback on.


5 OCTOBER 2013

The Day started with an introduction to DREAM:IN followed by a showcase of the Dreams of the fellows that were captured prior to the workshop. Teams were created and each team had the involvement of an external mentor who were invited to guide the fellows and help them shape their ideas as well as designers from Idiom who also contributed to the development of the ideas.


The Mentors that attended were –

Mr. Vijay Ladha, entrepreneur and Director, Make a Wish Foundation, Bangalore

Raahul Khadaliya, Creative Director, Studio ABCD

Ashwini Sashidhar, Designer, Machani Group

Jadeja Dushyant, Innovation expert and tech expert at Intel

Kavita Arora, Design enthusiast and part of the team behind Design Day

Amit Singh, Entrepreneur and part of the team behind Design Day

We also had mentors walk in and help out the fellows during the two days. Sonia Manchanda began with an introduction to the Design Camp and explained the process of Insight/Knowledge mining by using our very own ‘Create Preserve Destroy’ tools and methodology. From a knowledge sharing perspective, the perspectives presented in Bruce Nussbaum’s book Creative Intelligence on Business Design, Roger Martin and some successful entrepreneurial models developed by Idiom were touched upon.


During this session Francois Xavier, entrepreneur and DREAM:IN Mentor, Michael Hartman, serial entrepreneur, Kush Medhora, Co-founder and CEO, DREAM:IN and Girish Raj, Co-founder, Idiom Design and consulting spent time with each team, gave them feedback and helped them structure their ideas and plans.

We interviewed Michael and Francois separately and asked them what they thought about the Design Camp. Both of them were really impressed with the Camp, the participants and the processes. They were also really happy that design thinking was an integral part of the camp and that all the ventures/ideas being shaped were using design thinking in various aspects of the shaping process.

Post lunch, we then began with the DreamScaping* session that was introduced by Mo Polamar.

*A DreamScape is a creative scenario building tool and methodology that helps sketch out Dreams or ideas in vivid detail.


In this open innovation session, the purpose of the DreamScapes were to map and generate blueprints to co-create new value via sustainable initiatives or business plans for products, services, systems and applications, that could be potentially sustainable enterprises of the future, created by multidisciplinary professionals with different skills, experience and expertise. All the teams worked for over 2 hours on their DreamScapes and were able to put down a clearer map of their ideas.

Soon after this, we had a series of presentations by entrepreneurs that were working in sustainability. Raahul Khadaliya went first. He spoke about the role of design in sustainibility6 and the kind of work he has been doing with Studio ABCD.

One of very own Next Gen entrepreneurs, Ifthikar Javed was next. He spoke about his start up My Eco Day, an online solar product retailer, and about the solar industry in India today. The audience asked him questions like is Solar power practical? What is it is raining, will solar power work then? How can you compete with the government?

Our final speaker for the day was Kamal Raj, another Next Gen Entrepreneur who spoke about his company, Reap Benefit, and organisation that is offering wiser waste management solutions to various stakeholders. Kamal was asked about how waste segregation can be integrated in to daily life? Does he have a program or a plan to engage with individuals and not only institutions? All the speakers answered all these questions


6 OCTOBER 2013

Day 2 of the IDEX Design Camp began with each team presenting the work that they had done over the previous day in front of a panel consisting of Mr. Bala Warrier, CEO, Manipal Foundation, Francois Xavier, Girish Raj, Sonia Manchanda and Mo Polamar. Every team had been given 10 minutes to present their Dreams and 5 minutes for questions and feedback. The videos of the presentation and the feedback that was given will be posted on the DREAM:IN Portal shortly.


The first team to present was Thirsties (later re-branded as team Ekho) Mr. Warrier asked them why they were planning to use water bottles as there is already so much plastic waste everywhere, the team replied by saying that they were planning to use bio-degradable water bottles for this very reason. Mr. Warrier also explained that there were already several organisations in India that were in to the distribution of clean drinking water and he would be glad to connect the team to them. Francois advised the team to not forget about the Indian side of this engagement. He said that two plans needed to be made, one for the American side of it and the other for India. Girish and Mo mentioned that the working (logistics, operations etc.) of this venture would need to be looked at and planned a little more carefully



The second team to present their work was team  Prana. After their presentation, Girish explained to them that they might need to look at a village production center, do a little more research and also work out costs. Sonia and Mo mentioned that there were already existing business that follow similar models like Fab India and Mother Earth and it would good to study them while Francois gave them advice on how they could structure/frame the Prana story


The third team to go up was Kamal Kisan. The founder of Kamal Kisan, Devi Murthy was also present. Francois asked them why they had selected one particular process as an investor might ask them the logic behind that. Devi answered that she had selected rice planting as they were aiming at finding a heavily labour dependant farm process since availability of labour is a concern, therefore, this gap would give her venture an edge.


The next team to go up was ‘Dream Revolution’. Soon after their presentation, Girish asked them to explain their process a little more in detail. He also explained to them that in theory their idea might work, but when it comes to practically implementing it, they might re look at various aspects of the idea. He told them that there is a technology aspect as well as an on ground aspect that they will need to look at. Francois told the team that following the ‘pen-pal’ system might not be a good idea as the old pen pal system is gone, people are taking to online social networking instead, so why not create a ‘pad-pal’ using tablets and phones.


The final team to present was team ‘Learn by doing’. Nitin from the team answered questions after the presentation that were put forth by the Mentors. They really liked his idea and Francois advised him to carefully look through and identify the kind of schools, students and other stakeholders that they plan to engage with.

Essentially, there were a few gaps in all the various ideas that were addressed. Some of them included, creating a solid revenue model, streamlining the business process, identifying the right kind of partners etc.

Mr. Warrier even extended his support to the team behind Thirsties and Prana and said that he would be glad to connect them to local partners/enablers to help them implement their ideas.

Over the weekend, Jordan Kapowitz, a friend and supporter of DREAM:IN visited us in Bangalore and worked on a film for the DREAM:IN Portal. This film was screened at the session and everyone really appreciated it. It will be live on very soon.

We had a surprise planned for our very own Mallikarjuna Swamy, an integral part of Idiom and DREAM:IN and the head of the DREAM:IN Tumkur project. It was his birthday a couple of days earlier and the DREAM:IN Team had him cut a birthday cake along with fellow October birthday babies (Mr. Warrier and Hansa).


Over the past month a group of young design students from Srishti school of Art, Design and had been undertaking a course in branding at Idiom. As a part of this course, they were given the IDEX projects to brand and design collaterals for. Most of these students had never presented before such a big audience ever before, they were a little shy initially, but after warm encouragement from the audience, they really got in to the act. Each team presented 3 or more variations for the brands that they had designed and the feedback from the audience was unanimous. Everyone loved the work, some options were favoured over others, but all the designers were very well appreciated. Interesting feedback was also given, one instance in particular, one of the options that the designers had come up with for the project Kamal Kisan, was a logo that had hands reaching upwards. Mr Ladha, one of the mentors, explained that designers need to be careful when creating brands because in this case, symbols of two major rival political parties were incorporated (not on purpose) in to the brand. Also the name might face registration issues as another major Indian brand shares a similar name.

Soon after lunch, every team was given a camera and a brief to create a pitch film (or at least a draft) with the help of editors at DREAM:IN so that they could incorporate their learnings over the past two days in to this. The session ended with each team presented their pitch videos and over the next few days will have some time to refine their work before publishing it on the DREAM:IN Portal and using it at their final showcase. One pitch video in particular (the Dream Revolution team) was very well received and the team even received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The workshop ended on a promising note with positive feedback from the participants

The tremendous effort which was evidenced in the quality, organization, and thoroughness of the workshop was also appreciated by all present. The fellows we were told, gained a lot from working with their mentors and teams and were all excited to see what shape their ventures would take in the final showcase in November. Some of these ideas could turn in to real ventures (in fact 2 of them – Kamal Kisan and Learn by doing already are!) which will all be showcased in November. Stay tuned for updates.