How does innovation happen? You are inspired by a great piece of art or research, a serendipitous discovery, or a chance meeting. Then you go about crafting and refining that inspiration into something more concrete. Bouncing off the initial inspiration, you dig and research for different ideas, then think about how to synthesize all your discoveries and develop a coherent product.
But as every creator knows, innovation can be a messy affair. Often, ideas and inspirations end up sprawling over dozens of notebooks, clippings, bookmarks, and crazed handwriting scrawled on bits of cardboard and the back of receipts. In these labyrinthian thought palaces, great ideas get confused, workflows get disrupted, and opportunities are lost.
Well, no longer.
We are proud to introduce Augmented Thinking, the newest team to join the AtomLeap High-Tech Accelerator. They are building a platform which allows innovators to discover inspiring content and provides the tools to feed all those sources of inspiration into the development process — all in one place.
As usual, we sat down with Alexander, Johannes, Jeffrey, and Helen, the team behind Augmented Thinking, and dug into the gritty details.
In your own words, what does the company do?
We’re building an innovation platform to help teams and individuals develop informed ideas and impactful solutions for meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A smart digital workspace that supports your creative workflow by recommending inspiring, relevant content right when you need it.
Imagine inviting DaVinci, Picasso, and Elon Musk to help brainstorm on your next challenge. How would this transform your next big idea?
What problem are you addressing and why is it important to address it?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but there’s no one place to discover, develop, and share new ideas.
We discover content in blogs, magazines, social media, podcasts, etc. and develop ideas on analog and digital whiteboards, notebooks, mind maps, etc.
Currently, discovering and developing are treated as separate activities. By combining the two, they not only complement and inform each other, but also create seamless and effective workflows.
With today’s global challenges growing more complex than ever, we have to adapt our tools to help us find solutions that work.
How did you come across this idea?
Since we met in college in late 2016, we’ve been fascinated by finding leverage points within systems to tackle large scale social and ecological challenges. After developing conceptual solutions around urban agriculture, supply chain transparency, last-mile transportation, and more, we found education, knowledge management, and collective intelligence to have the most significant impact.
Since then, our vision is to “help everyone solve problems by making all knowledge actionable.”
Initially, we focused on information visualization to help innovators break down and better understand complex topics. In March 2019, we pivoted after realising a stronger need lies within supporting users during the early stages of their innovation process.
We take inspiration from many domains, e.g. drug discovery, behavioral science, or music streaming, and apply their strategies and technologies to the space of innovation and creativity. We love the open nature and hackability of web technologies and are heavy users of React, Canvas, Node.Js, etc.
From idea to action: what prompted you to found your own company?
The strong belief that we can have a greater impact through our own company than working for someone else. We have a broad skill set, work well together, share the same values, and are passionate about our vision. It seemed like a no brainer, so we just went for it.
From action to market: any thoughts you may have on the market for your product?
The innovation management market is expected to grow at 30% annually to $1.5bn by 2022, with software holding the largest market share.
Within this space, we see an underserved market for software at the intersection of content exploration and idea generation.
The innovation process is complex and yet to be fully understood — by utilising the most recent insights on creative problem solving, our challenge is to develop user experiences and interfaces that not only add value but potentially redefine our creative processes. Today’s users expect flawless, beautiful, and easy-to-use software. Execution is key.
However, policies and business practices that inhibit open and collaborative sharing of content could pose a future challenge.
What did you do before founding Augmented Thinking?
We are Alex, Helen, Jeffrey, and Johannes, and we all joined the interdisciplinary “Global Innovation Design” master’s program in London. Our backgrounds are in architecture, design thinking and methodology, management and mechanical engineering, as well as visual communication and web development.
Alex: I’m originally an architect, having trained and worked in the field for a number of years back in California. I’ve helped design spaces for a variety of uses, ranging from specialist medical care to primary school education – and these experiences have been transformative. Great architecture successfully reconciles the details of an individual’s needs with the overall demands of the greater urban environment. Working at such scale has fundamentally shaped my approach to complex problems, whilst giving me the tools through which to channel my impatient optimism.
Helen: I’m a designer and lecturer with a passion for design education and methodology. In the past, I have worked as a program lead at the HPI School of Design Thinking, a service designer for the Deutsche Telekom, and a freelance designer and lecturer all over the world. I have experience in teaching design and design thinking in various cultures, working in education, social innovation, and business design, spanning all levels of the design process.
I’m driven by experimental, creative approaches, and am very process aware and love to create both solutions and new design tools.
Jeffrey: I’m a system thinker, innovator, maker, and outdoor enthusiast, steadily trying to understand the world we live in and find opportunities for positive impact. Previously I joined the Formula Student to design, build, and drive a lightweight electric race car and lead the Chassis and Aerodynamics department in my second year. Amongst others, I also co-invented a piggy bank solution for children in times of virtual money (“Digipigi”), developed a concept for more supply chain transparency in the cotton industry, and designed and built a bicycle that can grow with a child.
Johannes: I’m a creative technologist and entrepreneur. My lens for looking at the world is like a painting by Wassily Kandinsky, deconstructed, and deeply intertwined. I love being immersed by brilliant artists and designers. I worked on projects for growing food in unused office space, a 21st century playground in China teaching primary school kids circular economy, I co-developed Flow by Power of X, an IoT toolkit to help cities like Bangkok with rapid urbanisation, and for more than 15 years, I’ve been doing Koyaanisqatsi-esque cinematography on the influence of technology on humans.
Together, we believe solving problems for others is not enough. We need to empower everyone to solve problems by themselves.
What are your goals for the AtomLeap High-Tech Accelerator program?
The timing for joining the accelerator is just right. Throughout the previous 18 months, we have analyzed our market and its trends in depth, studied the possibilities and limitations of relevant technologies, and have found a market opportunity that aligns with our passion and skillset.
In the following six months, we will incorporate, accelerate our prototype development, launch a closed Alpha, and find product-market-fit.
The AtomLeap High-Tech Accelerator will help us achieve our goals not only through their workshops and expertise, but also by connecting us to their network of entrepreneurs, investors, and potential users.
If you want to get in touch with Augmented Thinking to ask the team questions, share your thoughts, or to chat, just message them on firstname.lastname@example.org, or get signed up for the early release at augmented-thinking.ai.