Design Thinking for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: 6 Tips From Jessica Do


Entrepreneurship is a road many fantasize about but few actively pursue (and for plenty of reasons). Jessica Do, one of our first community members, spoke with us about her path to entrepreneurship and what she learned from it.

For Jessica, entrepreneurship wasn’t an overnight decision. She left her career in the financial sector and began working for a startup to learn the tricks of the trade—learning and practicing as much as possible before actually taking the leap.

Today, The Design Gym alum is the co-founder of the non-profit Design Thinking Miami and the founder of Palmpress, a single-cup coffee press hitting the market in May 2016.

We asked Jessica about her journey, and how design thinking helped her carve out a more fulfilling career. She shared her 6 tips for would-be entrepreneurs thinking about taking the leap.

1. If You Don’t Have a Big Idea, Help Someone Else with Theirs

For those who know they want to get into entrepreneurship, but they aren’t sure how, Jessica recommends hitching your wagon to someone who’s already established with their own venture.

She says, “I felt a strong need to explore entrepreneurship. It’s a feeling that doesn’t let you go until you try it. And I didn’t have an idea at the time that I really wanted to pursue, but my friend was starting a small company. It was a hard decision to make because I did like my job. I liked problem solving, but I was excited to apply that to a smaller environment and see what kind of change I could make. So I worked for my friend, and I learned so much.”

2. Believe in Your Creativity

Jessica loves design thinking for the confidence, creativity, and action it inspires in those who practice it.

“I like to use [IDEO partners] David and Tom Kelley’s phrase ‘creative confidence.’ Just believing in yourself a little bit more. Design thinking is full of action-oriented concepts and it turns thinkers into doers. So it’s very inspiring for a lot of reasons.

When you break design thinking down into components, it’s user research and understanding, idea generation, prototypinga lot of concepts that people are already familiar with. Design thinking has its unique way of going about each of those steps to help you perform them efficiently or more meaningfully.”

3. Fill a Need

A great way to get started in entrepreneurship is to create opportunities for yourself by filling a need in your market.

“I moved to Miami two years ago, and through The Design Gym, I connected with a fellow design thinker there. Mariana Rego, who had also taken The Design Gym courses in NYC. And when we started talking we realized that there was no on-the-ground resource for design thinking in Miami. We saw such an opportunity to be ambassadors for the design thinking concept here, and formed Design Thinking Miami. We had no idea what the appetite would be for a design thinking course in Miami, but we posted our first Eventbrite invite, and it sold out. We had another workshop, and it sold out. We’ve now grown our community to well over 1,000 members.”

4. Let Your Life Inform Your Entrepreneurship

As for how Jessica came up with her product idea for Palmpress, she looked to her own morning ritual.

“I love hand-brewing my cup of coffee every day. I’ve tried the French press, the Aeropress—you name it. There was something about each coffee maker that I wished would be a little different. After getting reflective about my experience, trying to understand it, talking to other people, doing my user research, and then going through some ideation exercises for myself, I came up with what is now called the Palmpress. It’s a single-cup coffee press. It fits in your palm; it’s super small; the coffee is so good. I don’t know that the idea to create it would have crossed my mind had I not been process disciplined. I thought about silly ideas, bad ideas and good ideas and eventually came to the point where I came up with something useful.”

5. Ditch Perfectionism

Jessica says the best advice she ever received came from a quote she read by Ricky Gervais:

“No one else knows what they’re doing either.”

“That gives you a certain kind of comfort. There’s an anxiety in thinking you might not be doing things the right way, or you don’t know what you don’t know. Just realize that anyone doing something different or worthwhile—a lot of times they don’t know what they’re doing, either, and that’s how new and wonderful things get created.”

6. Recognize the Importance of Relationships

Jessica says the most important thing for entrepreneurs to remember is that relationships are everything, both in life and in business.

“I think the #1 thing I’d say to aspiring entrepreneurs is to just be good to people. It sounds kind of weird, but at the end of day, we’re just one person selling to another person. Whether it’s sales or product development, everything is relationship-based. Being good to the people you meet gets you very far.”


If you’re in Miami check out Design Thinking Miami’s upcoming events or if in New York, check out our upcoming classes and bootcamps. We also have tons of design thinking resources for those unable to attend our workshops.


The Design Gym
  • Dolly Nolder
    Posted at 19:57h, 26 January Reply

    I knew you could do it!!! So proud of you!!!

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