Jeremy C. Agnew, Design Management Certificate '12, Talks about his Latest Projects

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We recently caught up with Jeremy who completed his Certificate in Design Management in 2012.

In a few sentences, tell us what you’ve been up to since graduating?
I worked for a wonderful family run branding agency in Paris called Piaton Associes. They taught me a lot about good design and I was able to apply what I had learnt at PCA. All the while I was hatching a plan I had had during a class on innovation. I then quit a few years ago to start Anew Mission. Now we are a team of 3 co-founders and 3 junior developers creating an app for collaborative innovation. The aim is to connect citizens to social causes and solve world challenges together.

Tell us about this new chapter in your life, and the inspiration behind it.
The inspiration came about while learning methodologies for innovation from Philippe Van Caenegem, an ex-professor at PCA, and now the Chief of Innovation at Salesforce (the world’s tenth biggest tech company) and our founder advisor. I saw how easy it was to increase your chances for innovation by collaboration, and thought, what if we could scale this up and link all the minds in the world together as one big brain! The challenges in doing this have been immense, but after 2 years of R&D, we’ve got our first version to beta test. We are incredibly excited to see it’s potential and how it might grow.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced?
The hardest part was finding two co-founders who I really wanted to work with. It’s like a marriage, so you really have to make the right match. One of them is a friend from Paris, and the other a friend of a friend in New York. I am now based in London. And our developers are in Brazil, India, and Lebanon. Which makes it hard to work remotely with the different time zones. But we use different tech platforms for communicating (Slack) and project management (Trello) so it is working well.

What classes or projects in school have helped you prepare/overcome some of these challenges?
Taylor Holland’s class on data visualisation was one of my favourites. He really pushed me to think how I might radically represent data from it’s most boring confines to something engaging and even beautiful. I was perhaps most proud of my work in that class as it was the most alien to me. I was also extremely proud of winning the EDFSustainable Design Awards in 2012 with my team during Romaric Le Tiec’s class. I worked really hard on that, and it touched a chord personally as we totally transformed the Paris Metro and offered up cutting edge, but feasible technologies to make the metro more sustainable and user friendly.

Philippe, Taylor, Romaric and all my teachers taught me very valuable skills. They gave me the confidence I need to believe in my work, and I am incredibly grateful for their guidance.

How did/does Paris inspire you as a designer/artist?
Paris itself is such a wonderful city. I miss it greatly. It is beautiful, elegant, and overflowing with culture and history. It inspires everyone. To study there was utterly perfect and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. However, for all the millions of reasons I love it, I don’t believe it was the right place for a fledgling tech company. And so I am in London where people are generally more open and sharing. You learn to love the Parisian grumpiness, however it isn’t conducive to work as a tech startup!

What advice would you give to people thinking of going into art and design in higher education?
I’d say don’t do it if you are unsure. In fact, don’t do any course if it isn’t calling out to you. I first studied economics in my early 20s and hated it. It wasn’t until I was 30, had experience, had learnt what I really wanted to do, and then went back to university that I got so much more out of it. I loved studying. Not something I could have ever said before! So unless it is already your calling, you’d do better to go out into the real world, do 10 different jobs, and go and study when you really know what inspires you. That way you’ll get much more out of life.

Where do you get your inspiration or motivation from?
Having found what I love, innovation, collaboration, helping people and society – I read about all these things. Mostly online. I no longer read newspapers, magazines, or watch TV. It is all loaded with mind numbing crap. I subscribe to The Conversation where all articles are referenced and factual. I listen to podcasts everywhere I go. I read books that teach me new things. I go to conferences, lectures. A whole new world opened up to me after PCA, and I am now hungry for more!

What advice would you give to students thinking of starting their own businesses/projects/further studies?
– Find the right business partner. It makes life so much easier than trying to go it alone. Having someone to bounce ideas off is invaluable.
– Don’t be afraid to go live in different countries whenever you get the opportunity. Where there isn’t one, make it. You will learn more than you can imagine, make friends that will inspire you, and open your world up to become a truly global citizen. I try to change countries every 3 years, having lived in London, New York, Paris, Mexico, Argentina, and who knows where next.
– Don’t be selfish to yourself or to others. Give. Give everything you have – the rewards are innumerable.
– Join our platform Anew Mission (we go live in a month) – you’ll learn how to be more innovative, and you can take this with you wherever you go in life.

www.anewmission.org