Re-designing Capitalism

This talk is part of the GVU Brown Bag Seminar Series brought to you by the Institute for People and Technology at Georgia Tech.

Beth E. Kolko, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Chair, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington

Date: 2023-10-19 12:30 pm

Technology Square Research Building (TSRB, 1st Floor Ballroom)
85 Fifth Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308


This is a talk about how to redesign capitalism, focusing on how startups are built, products are made, and customers are reached.

Translational work in human centered design (and, some would argue, HCI) often focuses on product development and how to create technologies that effectively meet the needs of the people who adopt them. The discourses of “how to start a startup” courses, whether formal university offerings or Startup Weekend style community events, address products and users in ways that borrow quite a bit from these design discourses.

This talk will show how frameworks from these fields, such as systems thinking analyses, rapid prototyping, sustainable design methods, and community-focused iterative research, can drive multiple aspects of startups —  including the development of business models, employee policies, pricing strategy, and more. The end goal is to help create companies that are less extractive and more beneficial to society at large. For this work I draw on my experience founding a medical device company as well as my experience in venture capital evaluating startups for two venture firms, to explore how frameworks common in HCD and HCI can be used more expansively —  to guide not just how to build products, but how to build entire companies that address the needs of individuals and communities while minimizing downstream harms.

Beth Kolko is Professor and Associate Department Chair in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She led the Design for Digital Inclusion Lab from 2001-2014, and since then has collaborated as co-lead of the Tactile and Tactical Technology Lab. She also co-founded the Y-Combinator backed medical device company Shift Labs. She is a Senior Venture Partner at Pioneer Fund, and Founding Venture Partner at Pack Ventures. Her recent work in HCDE focuses on entrepreneurship with a particular focus on how the intellectual frameworks of design can inform the creation of more human-centered companies.

Event Details


  • Thursday, October 19, 2023
    12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Location: Technology Square Research Building (TSRB, 1st Floor Ballroom)

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