Business Meets Design

Surrounded by smart, passionate people and with the best tools and approaches at your disposal, you’ll have what it takes to lead change through design. Some highlights for the day include:

Innovative Ideas

Get inspired by how design is being used to transform individual products & services, entire businesses, disrupt industries and transform society.

Conversations

Network with other design and business experts to create meaningful conversations through interactive topic tables and an after party in the charming City of Stratford.

Workshops

Choose from a number of hands-on workshops to learn more about stakeholdering, design thinking and service design.

Location

Join us in the beautiful City of Stratford at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. Stratford is home to globally recognized theatre, technology and of course, food.

Transportation

Need a ride to Stratford? No problem! Busing transportation will be provided from the University of Waterloo Main Campus to Stratford.

Free Admission

Amazing speakers, no cost. Your $10 deposit will be refunded when you show up to the event.

Our Speakers

BLND brings an exciting range of experience from a variety of different industries. This incredible lineup will excite and inspire you to have a whole new appreciation for design in business.

Chenny Xia
Founder, Innovation Consultant - JourneyCX

End-user experience advocate who believes in turning Design Thinking into Design Doing. I execute and deliver on new human-centered initiatives by translating stakeholder needs into desirable, viable, and feasible products and services. I'm always asking why, have visited over 20 countries, and owns a doge.

Chenny Xia
Founder, Innovation Consultant - JourneyCX
Markus Grupp
Director, Digital Customer Experience - Indigo

Currently Director, Digital Experience at Indigo, Canada's leading book and lifestyle retailer and the world's ``first cultural department store.`` He leads a team responsible for designing delightful digital experiences for Indigo customers online and in-store.

Over the past decade, he has held leadership roles in user experience, product and service design roles at Fortune 500 companies, leading design firms and start-ups in Europe and Canada.

Most recently, he led the in-house Service Design team at TELUS, responsible for delivering consistently great customer and employee experiences across digital and non-digital touch points.

Markus previously built and led the User Experience Centre of Excellence at Rogers Communications, responsible for delivering the end-to-end experiences for entertainment, communication, smart home and transactional services.

Markus Grupp
Director, Digital Customer Experience - Indigo
Robert Barlow-Busch
Head of Design - Kognitiv

Robert has built UX teams at startups, designed award-winning enterprise products, and was certified as the first Google UX/UI Expert in Canada. He currently holds an executive role as Head of Design for Kognitiv Corporation in Waterloo, leading UX for the company’s distributed global team. Robert is an active community builder, founding uxWaterloo in 2007 and serving as co-chair of Fluxible — Canada’s UX Festival — since 2012. He has contributed to three books on user experience and speaks at events internationally, which supports his ongoing quest to find the world's best sushi.

Robert Barlow-Busch
Head of Design - Kognitiv
Patrick Bach
Senior Manager, Experience Design - TD

Patrick is currently Senior Manager, Experience Design at TD where he is growing the awareness and adoption of Design Thinking tools and methodologies. He heads a small team of Service Designers that lead a variety of transformative projects and deliver coaching and skill building workshops for the entire organization. Previously, Patrick was at TELUS where he, over 2 years, helped build the Service Design practice and team. Patrick is also the founding member of the SDN Canada Chapter and hails from Montreal, QC.

Patrick Bach
Senior Manager, Experience Design - TD
Tom Creighton
Design Director - Wealthsimple

Tom Creighton is the Director of Design at Wealthsimple, Canada’s fastest growing online investment platform. His focus is on creating consistent, thoughtful experiences to make investing accessible to everyone. Prior to joining Wealthsimple, Tom worked with some other well-known Canadian startups, launched new initiatives for some of Canada’s largest brands, and ran his own creative studio.

Tom Creighton
Design Director - Wealthsimple
Chelsea Omel
Manager, Service Design & Strategy - TELUS

Chelsea is a Manager of Service Design & Strategy at TELUS where she uses design thinking to help internal teams to understand user needs and solve complex business challenges, while building service design capabilities across the organization. Before TELUS, Chelsea worked at the Royal Ontario Museum, and as a strategy consultant for not-for-profits. She is a diehard fan of podcasts and dancing and has a BA in Art History from Carleton University and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

Chelsea Omel
Manager, Service Design & Strategy - TELUS
Janice Wong
Senior Design & Insights Lead - Doblin/Deloitte

Janice is a Senior Design and Insights Lead for Doblin. She oversees Doblin Canada’s intellectual property development around cutting edge tools and methods for user research and insight generation. Janice currently teaches graphic design students how to engage confidently with business and innovation at Sheridan College.

Prior to joining Doblin, Janice worked as a researcher, service designer, workshop facilitator, and teacher with
a mix of public and private sector clients in CPG, health insurance, education, and music. Janice has a Masters of Design and MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Janice Wong
Senior Design & Insights Lead - Doblin/Deloitte
Sarah Reid
Senior Insights Lead - Doblin/Deloitte

Sarah is a Senior Insights Lead for Doblin and our resident Behavioural Design expert. She fuses social psychology and behavioural economics to explore the ‘why’s’ behind human tendencies and how to formulate meaningful behaviour change.

Before Doblin, Sarah worked in academia as a research scientist, postdoctoral fellow, and adjunct professor at Rutgers University and the University of Toronto where she taught and conducted research in the areas of organizational behaviour, research methods, health, and the work-family interface.

Sarah Reid
Senior Insights Lead - Doblin/Deloitte
Andres Ospina
Design Thinking Coach - RBC

Andres Ospina is an entrepreneur and intrapreneur with a passion for helping people learn how to solve problems using intuitive and analytical thinking. During his 16 year career, Andres has combined Human Insights, Design, Technology and Business Intelligence to deliver accurate strategies and products for Microsoft, Kellogg's, Toyota, Subaru Canada, Legrand, Kia Motors Canada, Rogers Communications, WIND Mobile, Leo Burnett and many others. Most recently, he built Design Practices for two companies that deliver digital products for Fortune 500 clients. He has reinvented multiple Lean UX methodologies to deliver faster and more meaningful interactive products for multimillion dollar projects and is currently leading enterprise transformation through Design Thinking at RBC.

Andres Ospina
Design Thinking Coach - RBC
Christine Zoltok
UX Designer - Breather

Christine has been a digital designer, creative director, and researcher. These days, she works as a UX designer at Breather (currently with 18 spaces in Toronto), helping reimagine the workspace experience. Her focus is on problem solving and design thinking. Previously, she designed mobile apps for some of Canada’s largest organizations, including the NFB, YellowPages and Volvo Canada.

Christine Zoltok
UX Designer - Breather
Jessica Fan
Systems Change Consultant - Reos Partners

Jessica is a systems change consultant at Reos Partners, and co-founder of the innovation consultancy JourneyCX. She brings systems change leaders together to address complex social challenges through organizational culture change, lean start-up methodologies, and human-centred design.

Previously, Jessica founded two language technology companies with over 1 million users, and has worked within leading-edge organizations including Google and Adaptive Path. Her projects have spanned multiple sectors including international development, financial services, sustainable agriculture, and consumer technology.

Jessica Fan
Systems Change Consultant - Reos Partners
Robleh Jama
Senior Product Manager - Shopify

Robleh Jama is a Senior Product Manager at Shopify, a commerce platform for entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs. Previously, Robleh founded an award-winning mobile product studio called Tiny Hearts that was acquired in 2016 by Shopify. At Tiny Hearts, Robleh launched several highly regarded apps including Next Keyboard (#2 overall), Quick Fit (featured in an Apple commercial, #1 Health), Wake Alarm (#1 Utilities) and Pocket Zoo (#1 Education). These apps have been downloaded over 6 million times and have appeared in the New York Times and Wired Magazine.

Robleh Jama
Senior Product Manager - Shopify
Robert Hayes
Product Management Consultant

I work with early-stage startups to help them build out their product management and design processes. As these companies start to scale, the CEO/CTO can't manage all these of functions, so they need help establishing their process and building their teams out.

Prior to that, I worked as a Product Management Lead at Joist, and founded the experience design consultancy, HEIST Data+Design.

Robert Hayes
Product Management Consultant
Elina Lawrie
Service Designer - Service Design Toronto

Elina Lawrie is fascinated by the systemic challenges and experiences that our society is forced to interact with everyday. She is an Associate of Service Design at Bridgeable where she consults healthcare organizations on how to optimize interactions between customers and healthcare providers in order to improve patient outcomes. Elina has developed wide-ranging knowledge and expertise of clinical pathways in oncology, user-centered design processes, and product development while working on creating immersive solutions for healthcare. As the co-organizer of Service Design Toronto, she feels strongly about supporting connecting a community of practitioners and service providers around this emerging discipline.

Elina Lawrie
Service Designer - Service Design Toronto
Linnea Vizard
Service Designer - Service Design Toronto

Linnea is one of Canada’s leading advocates of service design. She is a designer based in Toronto, and is the co-founder and organizer of Service Design Toronto. She was also a member of the city service design team Designing Dublin – a forward-thinking citizen-driven civic service design project. In her work she looks to explore how we can develop meaningful, human interactions in the digital age, and as a consultant at Usability Matters, she applies these ideas to a range of clients such as Toronto Public Library, Shoppers Drug Mart and The Movie Network. She is a respected contributor to Touchpoint, the journal for service design professionals, as well as writing frequently for Adobe on design. She has spoken at conferences such as Interaction16, Service Experience Camp Berlin and FITC.

Linnea Vizard
Service Designer - Service Design Toronto
Karin Schmidlin
Lead Designer - Jamie

Karin is the lead designers and manager of https://jamii.global, a virtual incubator that aims to support entrepreneurial teams around the globe with launching their startup ventures and building a support network. Prior to joining the University of Waterloo, Karin devoted 12+ years to practising design and digital media by developing websites, digital media campaigns, video games and building a multimedia division for a traditional communications firm. Karin is a passionate teacher and has been able to shape UX education at UWaterloo’s Stratford campus, lead design hackathons, Lunch & Learns, and guided curriculum. She teaches in both the graduate and undergrad programs, collaborating with industry partners to bring the world into the classroom. She is convinced that everything is better with a cup of strong black coffee in her hand.

Karin Schmidlin
Lead Designer - Jamie
Dayton Pereira
Founder - SignalUX

UX and UI expert with 16 years of digital product design and development experience. Currently focussed on helping product teams use collaborative workshops like Design Sprints to reach they product goals faster.

Dayton Pereira
Founder - SignalUX
Chase Denomme
Design Lead

Chase Denomme
Design Lead

Event Schedule

It's going to be a fun day full of excitement and inspiration! Check the program for this year's scheduled sessions.

For those coming from Kitchener-Waterloo, the buses will be departing from Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo Main Campus to arrive at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus for 8:45am.

Welcome! Upon arriving to the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, pick-up your name tag at the front desk.

Breakfast and beverages will be survived to kick-off the event.

9:30 AM

Chase Denomme
Accelerator Centre

Opening remarks and welcome from Chase Denomme.

Robert Barlow-Busch
Head of Design - Kognitiv

Sometimes we get so focused on winning small victories of the present that we’re blindsided by huge issues we simply didn't seeing coming. This case study tells the story of a product team who experienced this alarming truth first-hand and learned some lasting lessons as a result.

Like any good tale, the story features heroes, villains, and dramatic twists. Hear how product management and user experience joined forces to tackle a serious threat to the business — so serious that revenue was already sharply declining. Learn how field research with customers busted some big assumptions and, to everyone’s delight, uncovered an incredible opportunity.

But that’s not where the story ends. Find out what happened when the team presented that golden opportunity to executives wrestling with disruptive innovation. The shocking outcome holds important lessons for product teams everywhere.

Robert Hayes
Interactive Design & Development Director

Many of the products that have become staples of our everyday lives have cottage industries of products and services springing up around them. There are financial services for Uber drivers and host-recruiting services for Airbnb. There is a huge opportunity in building value added services around other platforms, but that means you need to build around the user experience they have already created.

Designing experiences that piggyback on existing products and services means you need to understand the context, barriers and opportunities they have created, and design within them.

Jessica Ching
Founder & CEO - Eve Medical

Talk description to be provided.

1. The Art of Stakeholder - Markus Grupp (Director, Digital Experience - Indigo), Chelsea Omel (Manager, Service Design & Strtegy - TELUS) and Patrich Bach (Senior Manager, Experience Design - TD)

Design Thinking is a misnomer. Getting stakeholders to think in customer centric manner is a relatively easy achievement and yields little in terms of actual change. Doing is the real challenge and a far more significant accomplishment. How might we truly drive change and put service design into practice? This requires more than stakeholder support - it requires commitment, trust and active participation in a process that can be unfamiliar or evening frightening in a corporate environment. Stakeholder workshops are an opportunity to challenge the worldview of your stakeholders and expose them to the truths of customer behaviour. It’s an opportunity to transform them from supporters to believers by creating an environment where they can experience the magic of a user-centred collaborative process. This is no easy task, the workshop itself is very much like a performance piece. It has to be carefully designed, choreographed and staffed by capable people with the right skillsets.

2. Design Thinking Crash Course - Andres Ospina (Design Thinking Coach - RBC)

Regardless of your background, role, context or area of expertise, you always have problems to solve. Design Thinking provides empathetic and scientific methods for solving problems that empower you to design validated and innovative products, services, strategies, processes, and even rituals! This fascinating, yet humble approach, starts with the thought ``I have no idea what will come out of this.`` It's a journey that starts with understanding the why and rapidly validates the what.

Through fun and interactive activities, this crash workshop will walk you through the essential principles and process of Design Thinking. You will have the opportunity to learn how to develop empathy - and truly understand and feel what other people think and experience. We will challenge your creative juices by applying divergent thinking techniques, and to remove fear from failure by discovering value from experimentation.

This 60-minute workshop is packed with tips on how to develop the mindset to solve problems creatively and ignite strategic innovation.

3. Exploring Relationships as a Service - Linnea Vizard and Elina Lawrie (Service Designers - Service Design Toronto).

How does the design of services impact our relationships? How might relationships precipitate the success of a service? Are relationship themselves, in fact, a service?

Designing services is about designing relationships! Join us for a workshop that explores this intersection. We will take a look at relational service design from matchmaking services to the invisible girlfriend and beyond. Test drive and learn to apply service design methods to create more intentional relationships of all types, using a new tool, the invisible girlfriend and beyond. Test drive and learn to apply service design methods to create more intentional relationships of all types, using a new tool, the relationship model canvas, in a facilitated hands on activity. Attendees with all sorts of relationships welcome!

12:30 PM

Your brain needs energy, eat some food! Enjoy a catered lunch.

Christine Zoltok
UX Designer - Breather

Breather provides a network of private, beautiful spaces designed with exceptional care to be perfect for meeting clients and co-workers. Our spaces can be booked on-demand, just for the time you need, whether for an hour or for a few days. With 18 spaces in Toronto and more than 300 locations worldwide, Breather wants to change the way you work.

We'll talk about some of the particular challenges of delivering a consistent service experience in the context of a startup – evolving the digital product alongside the physical one, adapting operational processes with remote teams, collaborating across departments and cities, and building an internal culture of end-to-end customer experience while growing fast.

Janice Wong & Sarah Reid
Senior Insights Lead - Doblin

Our presentation zeroes in on the methods we can use to be more flexible and adaptive with our research, so that we are making it easy and comfortable for users to share their needs, experiences, and aspirations with us.

Karin Schmidlin
Design Lead - Jami

They've been gone for some time now! It's time to bring back some GBDA graduates to hear about their current jobs, how they mapped out their career path and things to think about before you graduate. The session will be moderated by Karin Schmidlin.

Mohamed Hashi
Co-Founder - Leet

Why is passion important? It’s the thing that makes us jump out of bed in the morning and at times keeps us up at night. It’s the ultimate motivator to push us towards pursuing our dream.

Our passion for video games inspired us to create Leet, a side project that was exciting, rewarding and also brought many challenges along the way.

In this talk, Mohamed will discuss what it means to execute on your passion and not being afraid to fail. Attendants will hear about the journey of building Leet and how at the intersection of success and failure is where the best learnings happen.

Jessica Fan
Systems Change Consultant - Reos Partners

Where can I go with a degree in design? How can I make a meaningful impact? What should I do with my life?

If you're asking these questions as you prepare for life after graduation, you're not alone. Jessica Fan began her career over 5 years ago and has since been on a wild path of exploration and self-discovery. As an in-house designer, consultant, and award-winning serial entrepreneur, she has traveled the world solving challenges in fields ranging from sustainable agriculture, financial services, to education reform.

Enjoy some more food and select a topic table for an engaging conversation! Each table will have a host who will lead the discussion with 5-10 minutes around a specific topic, which will then be followed by an open discussion.

Chenny Xia
Founder, Innovation Consultant - JourneyCX

As human-centered designers, we must ensure desirability, viability, and feasibility at all times. Through private-public-partnerships, community engagement, and rapid prototyping, we can accelerate public sector innovation to address the unmet needs and opportunities for residents, public servants, and service providers.

Tom Creighton
Design Director - Wealthsimple

Thinking beyond the pixels and screens of our output allows our work to have a larger impact. What are the skills, trends, and tools we need to make products that remain relevant?

7:00 PM

It's been a long day! Time to unwind and network with our fellow business and design professionals.

Bus departs the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus to return to the University of Waterloo Main Campus at Hagey Hall.

Register to Event

Registration for BLND 2017 is now open. Registration includes a ticket to the best design party around and transportation to and from Stratford.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the FAQs to find the answers to common questions. Can't find your question answered here? Contact us.

Who is this event for?

Basically, anyone interested in meeting like-minded creatives, learn lots and party even a little more. Students, Professors, Design Professionals and Business Leaders. BLND is a collection of creative disruptors and innovators.

What is the registration fee?

Absolutely nothing. Say what!? That’s right, BLND is a 100% free event. The enter day has been sponsored by the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, Canadian Digital Media Network and Stratford Accelerator Centre.

To attend, you will be required to make a $10 deposit. The deposit will be refunded immediately when you show up to the event.

If your thinking offering this high-value event for free is crazy, it is – don’t miss out.

How do I get to Stratford?

Coming from Kitchener-Waterloo? No problem. We are providing busing to and from the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus.

The bus will depart from the University of Waterloo Main Campus at Hagey Hall at 8:00am and arrive back at that location at 9:45pm.

Event location

BLND is located at the beautiful University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. Please find directions and further contact details below.

VISIT US

125 St. Patrick Street, Stratford, ON

EMAIL US

cdenomme@acceleratorcentre.com

CALL US

519.275.3694