GDD730 Week 9: Industry Insights 1

Image credit: Fabio Bracht

This week’s content included an interview with Hi9 CEO, Wo King (ca. 2020), where he offered insights on business start-up. Listening to the talk, I found myself enthused by the idea of starting a business.

Clearly I have more to reflect on here. As of this moment, I can’t say with confidence whether I am attracted by nature of the work, or by the prestige of being a business owner.

In this post, I’ll make those reflections— and decide whether I should turn Skoobin Design into a limited company.

Wo King drew attention to the importance of looking after your health. Here, I’d like to refer back to the working experience I discussed in week 3, specifically the toll that experience took on my health. As much as writing that post was remarkably therapeutic, I still carry some anxiety about finding myself in an environment like that again. In my mind, being my own boss would mean control over my working environment.

Perhaps it would be more rational to expect better, but not absolute, control over my environment. In a document licensed to AGCAS, Dominic Laing (2011) states that: “[in self employment] It is impossible to escape some pressures, especially those that come from clients and customers, who will often dictate your working hours”.

I should acknowledge that there will always be people that I find are challenging to work with. Though self-employment may aid in navigating difficult working environments, there will likely be times in my future that I still encounter them.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting in Wo King’s talk was his championing of finding a business partner to share the load of a young business. I looked for a start-up incubator in my local area that would offer a network of likeminded individuals and potential business partners. University of Birmingham (UoB) offers the ‘Elevate’ business growth programme, but it is reserved for UoB students. As a Falmouth student, this poses a challenge.

I am required to produce a major project in the final module of this course. If I use that time to produce a concept of particular academic interest, I could present it at UoB as part of an application for a PhD residency. Then, I’d be elligible for the elevate business growth programme.

Wo King also highly recommended gaining knowledge of machine learning:

“There is not going to be one single piece of technology which is not going to be affected by AI. Trust me on that. We’ve seen the early stuff as well as the stuff that’s coming out. The stuff that’s coming out is insane.”

I have found a PhD research programme at UoB, under the supervision of Dr. Max Little, on Causal Machine learning. Garry Kasparov (2017, 87) spoke about an early chess AI that had been fed data on Grandmaster games that would fatally play a queen sacrifice at it’s earliest opportunity.

“When a Grandmaster sacrifices his queen it’s nearly always a brilliant and decisive blow. To the machine, educated on a diet of GM games, giving up its queen was clearly the key to success!”

My knowledge of AI is distinctly limited but, to me, the notion of causal over correlational ML is the stuff of science fiction. I’d love the opportunity to contribute to such a fascinating field.

So, here’s a plan for the long game:

  1. As I mentioned in last week’s post, in UXD740 I’ll produce an academic paper exploring how nursing and compassionate care in medicine might inform UX research practice. With the support of UXD740’s Module leader, Clementine, I’d like to try and get what I produce published.
  2. Applying the insights from my UXD740 paper, in GDD750 I’ll produce an artefact to aid isolated and burnt-out individuals in the creative and tech industries, as I was in my previous employment.
  3. I’ll present my UXD740 paper and GDD750 product at UoB to (hopefully) secure a position in a PhD residency, researching ML. By the time I reach this stage of my plan, the window for application to Dr. Little’s casual machine learning project will likely have passed. I’ll find another interesting ML project at a more appropriate time.
  4. Whilst studying at UoB, I’ll take advantage of the Elevate programme to commercialise my GDD740 product, find a business partner, and launch a tech start-up.

To close this post, I’ll revisit the musings that I opened it with. I am still enthused by the idea of starting a business. I am attracted to both the nature of the work, and the prestige of being a business owner.

And finally, I’m happy to announce I have decided to turn Skoobin Design into a limited company. I’ll see where that takes me in the coming months.


B-ENTERPRISING. 2021. ‘UoB Elevate at The Exchange’. University of Birmingham [online]. Available at: [accessed 23/08/2021].

KASPAROV, G. 2017. Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. London: John Murray, 87.

KING, W. ca. 2020. ‘Week 9: Hi9 & Business Start-Up’. Falmouth University [online]. Available at: [accessed 23/08/2021].

LAING, D. 2011. ‘Self-employment’. AGCAS [online]. Available at: [accessed 23/08/2021].

UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM. 2021. ‘Find A PhD’. University of Birmingham [online]. Available at: [accessed 3/08/2021].

Published by Josh 'Skoob' Brough

Experience enthusiast. UX/UI designer. Father to (little) one. Currently studying MA User Experience Design at Falmouth University. Here’s the chronicle.

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