THE CHALLENGE: Helping MURAL, an IDEO Startup in Residence, design the best visual collaboration tool to practice design thinking remotely and define a go-to-market strategy.

THE DESIGN OUTCOME: In addition to refining and simplifying the product, IDEO helped MURAL gain business traction and introduced them to their first enterprise customers. 

co-founder & ceo mariano suarez-battan at a recent ideo event demonstrating mural on an 84" microsoft surface hub

co-founder & ceo mariano suarez-battan at a recent ideo event demonstrating mural on an 84" microsoft surface hub

“While at IDEO we really zoomed into the design process—kind of a ‘meta-project’ on how a typical design project gets executed. In addition to getting deep into the problem, we started to get constructive feedback on our product. We fell in love with IDEO’s human centered approach and drive toward simplicity. We embraced those values as our own. Both fun and easy to use are phrases our promoters use to talk about MURAL so we’re on a good path to achieving that simplicity,” said Mariano Suarez Battan, co-founder & CEO at MURAL.

When a group of video game entrepreneurs at Disney were in the process of designing a complex game about emotions, they struggled to find a tool to help them collaborate remotely. They needed a digital whiteboard where individuals could post images, sketches, inspiration and notes to help them conceptualize the game remotely. The team decided to leave the video game behind in order to build a company to solve this problem.

They began prototyping a tool for remote collaboration and invited others to use it as well.  When the team stepped back to see where it was being used the most, they realized that teams practicing design thinking were the earliest adopters and heaviest users. Some of those early adopters were IDEO teams, using the tool to help guide them through the design process.

MURAL was invited as one of a handful of seed-stage teams to participate in IDEO’s Startup in Residence program, thanks to an introduction from Collaborative Fund. The MURAL team worked from the heart of IDEO’s San Francisco and Palo Alto design studios for three months, learning to work like designers and achieve product-market fit. 

"'Design thinking' carries an expectation that its practitioners are trained in visual arts, architecture, or engineering. While many are, it’s a process that is available –and can be critical – for any creative endeavor, and across business. The MURAL team got that intuitively, and felt like living proof of that. And IDEO is all about inspiring creative confidence: so it was a natural fit," said Kanyi Maqubela, Partner at Collaborative Fund.

Through a series of experiments and design sprints, the MURAL team was able to observe IDEO teams go through the design thinking process with the MURAL product, which allowed for live prototyping, quick builds and refinement of the digital collaboration tool.  

“One of the great things about being located inside a studio with very smart people was that we were able to quickly experiment and get critique on the fly," said Patricio Jutard, co-founder and Head of Product at MURAL.

As part of the residency, IDEO opened their network to help introduce MURAL to potential customers. Design leaders at Intuit, Stanford, IBM, Steelcase and Autodesk participated in research and ran pilot programs with the latest version of the software, using the product with distributed teams and providing feedback on earlier versions.  

All of these pilot programs are now using MURAL to help scale design thinking within their organizations. 

“We helped the MURAL team design their business holistically, not just the product. That included making introductions to what would become some of their biggest customers,” said Diego Rodriguez, Partner and Global Managing Director of New Ventures at IDEO
 

About MURAL:
MURAL is a digital whiteboard to help you collaborate remotely as if you were in the same project room. Design-driven companies like IBM, Steelcase, Stanford and Disney are using MURAL to scale their design process and culture. Formerly a startup in residence at IDEO, MURAL is funded by Alta Ventures, Intel Capital, Collaborative Fund, NXTP Labs and 500 Startups, amongst others.