UI/UX for growth – Startup state of mind – event review

On the 21st of October I attended the event UX/UI for growth, held by Samurai Startup Island, a co-working space in Tennozu Isle (Shinagawa) and Justa.io, a recruiting service that helps Japanese startups to find talents. Samurai Startup Island was founded by Samurai Incubate to support early-stage start-ups in the areas of management, marketing, sales, human resources, and finances.

The organisers described UI/UX for Growth as:
“Design is not only about shape, colour and balance, going much deeper than simple appearance. Good designs increase the amount of trust visitors have in your website/product and ultimately your business. On the other hand, bad designs send users away to alternatives.”
They continued, getting to the crux of the presentation:
“UI/UX MATTERS It matters for conversion rates, sales increase, and therefore impacts your business directly.”
And most importantly they offered a solution:
“The Justa × Samurai Incubator collaboration event is here to help you to improve your UI/UX concepts. Join us and learn from the best! See the best methodologies and learn from real test cases.”

The event was split into two parts. First up, there were three speakers who each shared different perspectives and ideas on the theme of UI/UX.
And then, there was a series of workshops where the attendees were divided into groups and each group had to come up with a design for a simple prototype.
Below is a quick overview of the presenters and what they had to say on the night.

Masakazu Iwabu (Senior Designer at DesignIT Tokyo)

Profile: Masakazu Iwabu is the senior designer at Designit, a global strategic design firm.
Masakazu works on global design projects in the Tokyo office and chiefly manages the implementation phase in the process.
He studied visual and media arts at Emerson college, Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, he worked for Colony+Interactive, a digital creative company in Tokyo. As a project director, he managed various digital projects from concept making through to implementation.
Masakazu has a highlighted experience in digital solutions, UI design, visual design, and technology.

He gave a general presentation about the difference between UX and UI and why they are so important. He also spoke about the ways that user experience can be applied to everyday objects. It was an interesting presentation for whoever hasn’t had a chance to read “Everyday design of things” by D.Norman.

Ryan Barkataki (UX Director and Senior Industrial Designer at Up Arrows Inc)

Profile: Ryan is the UX Director and Senior Industrial Designer at Up Arrows Inc, a boutique Japanese design agency based in Shibakoen, Tokyo.
He also co-runs the event UX Talk Tokyo (UXTalkTokyo.com), a monthly event promoting UX methodologies.
He has a MSc in HCI from University College London, and an MA in Industrial Design from Central Saint Martins.
Prior to joining the Up Arrows team, he worked with companies, such as PlayStation, Sony Music UK, eBay, Nokia, Vodafone and even did UX and Design work for One Direction, for real.

Ryan gave quite an interesting presentation about contemporary UX research methodologies, I liked the way he compared the budget of UX research agencies with popstars (Popstar’s scale), explaining what kind of research you should do depending on the resources available. To me as a UI/UX professional, this presentation still covered general concepts for UX/UI. However, I believe it was quite informative and useful for the audience of new startuppers who were there to learn new techniques and methodologies to apply to their startup businesses.

Aki Saarinen (CEO of Reaktor Japan)

Profile: Aki was first introduced to programming at age of 8 and sold his first software products at age 15. Aki has spent most of his life building software and companies, working in the intersection of tech, business and design. In 2013, Aki moved to Tokyo and setup the first international branch office for Reaktor, a leading Finnish creative technology company. He’s also a partner in Reaktor Ventures, an early stage startup investor. Aki’s passion is creating beautiful products that solve real problems, while staying curious and learning something new every day.

Aki gave his speech on several topics including how to apply UX research methodologies in a practical way in real life, using a couple of clients from Reaktor’s portfolio as examples. In particular he emphasised how UX/UI affected the growth of the startups they worked with. He talked about how they solved their client’s problem and increased their revenue. He said, “I believe it’s always very effective to bring ‘real numbers’ to the table instead of hypotheses.”

Overall the atmosphere was kinda relaxed, with about 30 attendees it was not too busy so you could hear the presentations well and ask questions. Mainly the crowd was made up of startuppers who were attending to learn about UX methodologies.

Riccardo Parenti

Italian. Art Director, interaction design enthusiast, occasionally photographer. Riccardo is the founder the TGD community, starting the LinkedIn group when he first moved to Japan in 2010. He is also a volunteer for Behance Tokyo. He loves to spend his free time seeking and exploring abandoned buildings in the Japanese countryside.

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