hdw4 introduction
Since November 2020, our partnership of Sony Design Consulting Inc. and Final Aim, Inc. has been on joint research for creative and design support for startups.

(Written by hdw4 project members)


News release:
Final Aim and Sony Design Consulting Partner to Conduct Joint Research

Nikkei XTECH (Japanese article):
Sony is serious about supporting startups – Aiming to uplift value of design

Image: Yasushi Kato (Source: Nikkei XTECH)
From left: Hiroshige Fukuhara & Shusuke Eshita from Sony Design Consulting, Yasuhide Yokoi & Masafumi Asakura from Final Aim

We proudly announce that we opened this website to share our joint research outcomes.
“Design” for startups is a strategy factor which is particularly important for their businesses. However, many startups are lacking proper design understanding and it is causing a lot of opportunity losses when growing their businesses.
This is why we started our joint research. We support startups by sharing proper design understanding and fill any lacking in their current awareness of design for business. This website is where you can find our latest research insight on theories and practices on a regular basis.  
We commit ourselves to be a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, business owners, investors who support startup finance, and designers who engage in product or service design development.

Why Joint Research?

While we both were separately working on startup zero-to-one support from a design perspective, Sony Design Consulting Inc. and Final Aim, Inc. found that we share the same challenge in “filling the gaps in startups regarding design”. This shared challenge is coming from our own experiences where the mentioned gaps became growth blockers. Zero-to-one challenge is to make a whole new world, and where design becomes a key factor to break through a bottleneck and drives business forward incredibly. In reality, however, we witnessed its importance being neglected or misunderstood in many ways.

Please look at the cases below. What would you think as an entrepreneur, investor, and designer?


  • Fee and quality of design
    You are in a phase with very limited budget, right after founding a startup. You outsourced logo design, and the returned estimate is quite higher than expected. What is the difference between this design and those by reasonable online design services?
  • Criteria in choosing a design firm
    You are looking for a designer or a design firm who supports your initial business development. But you have no idea how you evaluate their experiences and works. Who would be the right partner?
  • Criteria in hiring and evaluating a designer
    You are hiring a designer to join your initial team. What kind of mindset, skills, knowledge and career should the right talent to hire?


  • Evaluation and numerical calculation method of design
    You understand the basic need of design, and plan to invest more in design competitive startups. Then you want to calculate the design index as well as management and then evaluate. How would you assess the effectiveness and efficacy of design?


  • Proper timing and coverage of design
    You received an order for product design with their technical development almost completed on software and hardware. It is obvious that it’s too late to add design appealing enough to users at this moment. You should have joined the project in much earlier phases as planning or sketching.
  • Trait and points of attention of startup business
    You received an order from an entrepreneur who owns a startup. The request is “to design a pitch deck to investors” and delivery period is quite short. What is a pitch deck, first of all? How is it different from normal design order? What are advantages or points of attention of a startup?

These cases are comparatively simple and each phase should have clear criteria for your evaluation and judgement. However, there is no reference which clearly mentions those criteria, even for these simple cases. In more complicated cases, we assume there could be more unrevealed gaps, as mentioned earlier, in understanding proper design strategy in business growth, from simple ones to deeply rooted.

What to Tell?

With this finding, we keep our joint research based on these perspectives. You will be updated with all the outcomes here on this website.

Design efficacy

Efficacy and effectivity that design has for businesses and potential of design to grow businesses

Design theories and practices

Theories to solve the gaps in business phases and practices to carry them out

Design and investment

Application of fund-raising, business value and valuation, uplifted by design

Our Aim

While we continue our best efforts in creating the market where design-driven businesses receive aggressive investment, we hope that there will be more successful startups in the market. This drives us to involve ourselves in healthy improvement of the entire ecosystem of startup and design.

“We want to raise the number of startups by spreading correct understanding of design and encouraging investment.”

Please look forward to our upcoming insights.

July 2021,
Sony Design Consulting Inc.
Final Aim, Inc.

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