Business Design, 2014

Collaboration with Elisa Werbler and Heath Wagoner

Open Atelier is a service platform - an output of merging the best practices of startup accelerators with those from design research and environmental/ social impact. The process involved generating business concepts, validating assumptions through hands on research, building and testing concept prototypes, and testing them against social, environmental, and economic criteria.

The Concept:

The project brief was to design a growth startup built upon the platform of an existing company - in this case, Airbnb (a shared economy disruptor). Using the Lean Startup model to develop a business idea, the outcome of the 15-week process is Open Atelier, an online community marketplace that connects artists and designers looking to temporarily share their studio space with people looking to learn new skills. Through customer discovery and development, we identified Open Atelier users as Masters and Apprentices: Masters list resources and skill sharing opportunities and Apprentices book spaces they are interested in using.

The Process:

Through research, conversations, surveys, system mapping, financial projections, materiality assessments, and market tests, we identified Open Atelier's larger mission - to help artist and designers realize how valuable their skills are and actualize creative passions into careers.




Overview of Journey: Business Model Pivots

Starting with Airbnb, the business concept pivoted from travelers temporarily staying in homes to business travelers temporarily using workspaces to creative locals temporarily using spaces with unique functionalities to artists and designers providing guidance to their guests in their personal studio spaces. The idea landed on a monetary exchange of skills and resource sharing.

landing page.jpg
How Open Atelier Works

How Open Atelier Works

Materiality Assessment

After analyzing the social, environmental, and health impacts of the business through materiality assessments, the social impact had the highest materiality.




     Environmental Impact


Environmental Impact

     Key Insight: Tool and Resource Sharing


Key Insight: Tool and Resource Sharing

Social Value Proposition Support

The biggest pain point is that artists and designers with studio space in NYC need a supplemental income to sustain their career and lifestyle. The expensive NYC lifestyle is pushing artists out and "the artist drain is one of the city's biggest problems" because you need a creative talent pool from which all industries can draw (Crains New York).

Research Study

The study findings revealed that Open Atelier has the potential to help artists and designers realize how valuable their skills are, and how they could be used to generate income.

melissa insight.jpg

These two findings led to the greater insight that Open Atelier has the potential to help artists and designers realize how valuable their skills are, and how they could be used to generate income. This ultimately carves out Open Atelier's larger mission to actualize creative passions into careers.

Market Testing

The business concept was tested in several ways. For starters, market tests refined the user experience of the Open Atelier platform. The tests were conducted to identify which of three options was most effective for the landing page.

Financial Projections

To further validate the platform feasibility, financial projections were created using the usage frequency and cost averages from the research study. The cost structure was borrowed from Airbnb, which is a 3% transaction fee from Masters and 6% from Apprentices. The projections predict a net income of $41,802 by the end of year 1.


Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas

Materiality Canvas

Materiality Canvas