Startup Studio

COGS 122 Startup Studio (Spring 2024)

Attention entrepreneurs, designers, scientists and engineers!  In this course, students will learn tools and processes for innovating novel business concepts to solve problems involving the interaction between humans and technology. Students will work with an interdisciplinary team to understand unmet user needs and to create a value proposition that balances technical feasibility, financial viability, and desirability. Ultimately, student teams will prototype a novel product or service, write a business plan, and produce a video suitable for launching a crowdfunding campaign. To inform the innovation process, students will learn new techniques for leveraging social media and crowdsourcing to discover users' needs and to obtain feedback on preliminary concepts. Selected readings will cover ubiquitous computing, service design, business modeling, creativity methods, crowdsourcing, and crowdfunding.

Instructor: Prof. Steven Dow (office hours 12-1pm on Fridays in DIB 365 or zoom)

TA: Lu Sun (office hours TBD)

IAs: Bella Hardy, Cindy Peng, and Sina Radi

Lectures: Tu/Th from 11:00-12:20pm (DIB 122)

Studio:  Fridays at 9-9:50pm (DIB 121)

Final showcase: Tues June 11 at 11:30am-2:30pm (DIB 122)

Learning Objectives

Course Topics

Course History

Startup Studio originated as a course called Mobile Service Innovation developed by Prof. Steven Dow, Prof. Jim Morris, and Prof. John Zimmerman at Carnegie Mellon University. Prof. Dow taught this course for several years CMU on the semester system and has now adopted it for UC's quarter system. 

Teaching Team

Prof. Steven Dow ( is Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego where he researches human-computer interaction, social computing, and creativity. Steven received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 for research on "advancing collective innovation." He was co-PI on five other National Science Foundation grants, a Google Faculty Grant, Stanford's Postdoctoral Research Award, and the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant. Before UCSD, Steven was an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.

TA Lu Sun is a PhD candidate in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego. Her research focuses on human-AI interaction and social computing. She received her master’s degree from the HCI Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor degree in Telecommunication Engineering from China. She enjoys playing the violin and dancing. She is excited to TA this quarter and she is looking forward to meeting everyone in this fascinating class!

IA Bella Hardy is pursuing a major in Cognitive Science with a Design, and Interaction specialization, with a minor in Computer Science. I thoroughly enjoy designing and constructing websites for small businesses, and I eagerly anticipate entering the industry in the near future. In my spare time, I operate a photography business and volunteer for CSForeach, a club dedicated to providing equal opportunities to underrepresented communities in the San Diego area.

IA Cindy Peng is a 4th-year student majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Design and Interaction and Business Psychology. In my free time, I enjoy painting, drawing, reading, playing piano, and hanging out with my cat (a 3 yr old Tabby shorthair). Ask me anything about research, internships w/ Startups, recommended COGS/PSYC/MGT classes, or grad school applications, and more!

IA Sina Radi is an undergraduate alumni of Cognitive Science, Design & Interaction. He has experience with multiple startups, leading large teams, having had great guidance from the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur’s NSF/MedTech. He enjoys reading about new technology news, and loves keeping up with online design communities as well as with biophilic architecture.

Past Startup Studio Projects

Spring 2024 Projects

Transform aspirations into actions with Hobbee, an app that leverages community support, progress tracking, and professional guidance to cultivate hobbies.

Roleplay financial futures with Gold Leaf. Play to learn how to make millions and be smarter with money.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Size Studio offers personalized 3D body measurements at retail stores, guaranteeing flawless fits for future online orders.

SkillNest supports intergenerational bonds through life-skill workshops hosted by seniors for younger people.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Skip the layover snooze. Pivotour offers personalized local tours from the airport and back in time for the next flight.

EdVenture is a VR learning platform where users learn skills through interactive, immersive classes taught by live instructors.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Figma Prototype

VR Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Linksphere is a crowdfunding platform that helps homeless individuals get back on their feet, while ensuring accountability and transparency for donors.

Connect globally, thrive locally. i-Hub helps international students seamlessly transition to life in a new country through cultural training and mentorship.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

SummitSphere revolutionizes the conference experience by offering dynamic recommendations powered by indoor location sensing.

Pupal AI generates visual representations of complex academic papers, enhancing accessibility for students and researchers.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Spring 2023 Projects

The Bijoux Digital Locket combines elegance, technology, and heartfelt communication to help loved ones stay connected, no matter the distance.

This Clover connects locals with a curated selection of eco-conscious vendors, fostering sustainable living and encouraging active community engagement.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Jimoto, a travel planning and social networking app that brings together people, places, and endless possibilities.

Looking For Team: Your path to Esports success; the first social networking platform for Esports.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Green To Go is an online marketplace for food enterprises that provides sustainable packaging recommendations and climate score cards to better inform eco-conscious customers.

Reinventing Digital Identity with Avatire: a cross-platform, AI-powered avatar creator

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

PlanetPal, an AI assistant that helps people make sustainable lifestyle changes by generating personalized action plans, tracking progress over time, and visualizing the collective impact.

oowls connects families with verified gig-workers for personalized, on-demand senior care – empowering loved ones to support the health, safety, and social well-being of aging family members.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Munch is an advanced AI powered nutrition app that utilizes real-time health biometrics and pantry inventory to suggest recipes for nourishment and well-being.

Plauto: Streamline project scheduling with AI language models, enabling dynamic and personalized planning with ease.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

TeamFactor helps exemplary interview candidates get discovered by employers based on automated assessments of online small group problem-solving sessions.

Optimize workouts with Activaband, the first smart wristband system that leverages AI to evaluate real-time performance and generate personalized workout plans.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Spring 2022 Projects

Leverages AI assistance to help form supportive friendships and to provide interactive, science-based, personalized lessons about mental health.

Scans websites and prototypes to identify accessibility issues in order for businesses to reach a larger customer base.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Centralizes the immigration process by providing a collection of resources, connections to immigration lawyers, and access to an online community.

Be Canny! Find places to eat out with friends or by yourself within your budget. Never be afraid of losing out on social events due to cost with our money management app.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder  

Helps you crowdfund your healthcare and housing needs anonymously. Protect your identity, while telling your story.

Make use of deals and plan activities with our app to stay tight knit with friends.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype   Presentation  Team Folder

Provides up-to-date, verified accessibility information about local businesses and public institutions.

Stay safe with WalkBuddy, a personal safety app providing instant help from crisis responders, AI-generated safe routes, and walking companions.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype  Presentation  Team Folder

Set goals, learn green habits, and connect with your community to contribute to a thriving biome and witness your impact with Habit@.

Connects professionals with interviewees to help them prepare for upcoming job interviews through mock interviews and career coaching.

Video Pitch  Kickstarter  Prototype   Presentation  Team Folder

Collaboratively plan trips using our easy-to-use editor and meet new friends along the way.

Fall 2020 Projects

Curates smart matches for small business collaborations to increase exposure, drive sales, and build your network.

Provides personalized ergonomic assessments and product recommendations to create a better workspace at home.  

Kickstarter  Prototype  Team Folder  Video

Be SAVVY. Save money by discovering fun and COVID-safe experiences with your friends or colleagues

Transforms the online grocery shopping experience to help consumers reduce food waste by tracking expiration dates and recommending recipes to avoid excess.

A free video chat and casual gaming experience that helps you meet friends and fellow gamers.

A virtual dating experience that help singles safely move towards in-person dates.

Guides junior designers in their career through online portfolio critiques and industry mentorship.

Allows businesses to better serve disabled customers and avoid lawsuits by providing resources to quickly report and solve ADA violations

Walk n’ Learn. Learn geography, history, and culture through an augmented reality walking experience that rewards exploration!

Kickstarter  Prototype  Team Folder  Video

Winter 2018

A peer-to-peer valet service where drivers can get their car parked at any location and valets can earn money parking cars.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Connects customers with local woodworkers to design and make custom wooden furniture.  

Kickstarter  Prototype  Team Folder  Video

QuickCare provides personalized care-package delivery services for people in a friendly environment so that they can feel the love of home, away from home. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

An ultimate team finding application that allows video gamers to connect with other video gamers that they desire.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Helps refugees share their hardships and hopes, and allows donors to send money directly to families in need.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video 

Utilizes local resources to create a rapid-response network in communities by connecting those who want to help with those who need help during natural disasters. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video 

A platform that aims to leverage the unique talents of individuals skilled in a particular field and other businesses looking to collaborate on cohesively developed products and services. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Connects patients with mental health professionals working independently to provide on-demand care.

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Helps travelers plan their trips by generating custom itineraries within a set budget, which they can then order as a packaged deal.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

A peer-to-peer storage solution that will allow you to find cheap, convenient storage so you don't have to lug your stuff around.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Spring 2017

Don't have the time for an oil change? Sends mechanics to your door at the convenience of your schedule. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Why go out alone? Meet other people through events. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Quickly discover and schedule photographers at your convenience, whether you're out and about or setting up an event. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  

A premium water bottle service which provides quality vacuum sealed bottles as alternatives to disposable plastic bottles. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Transforms movie ticket purchasing, where ticket prices get cheaper as more people purchase them. Let's experience movies again. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

An emporium where fans can sell and purchase fan crafted goods. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Wamé works with businesses with long lines to provide customers location-themed games to play with others in line to win discounts. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

A smart savings service that doesn't sacrifice your lifestyle. Effortlessly save by integrating your daily habits. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

A travel planning tool that helps you design an itinerary and discover the local culture and flavors. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Immerse yourself in a new culture with food and facts. A world of cuisine at your doorstep. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Spring 2016

No one knows a university better than students. Helps mid-sized companies establish an on-campus presence by training student ambassadors that can grow your brand and discover talent. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Connects travelers with cool locals so they get to see offbeat places and have an authentic and personal experience. Locals earn cash! 

Kickstarter  Home Page Team Folder  Video

It’s time to reinvent the way we shop for clothes. Introducing an innovative system that provides personalized sizing recommendations at your fingertips. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

An interactive lecture supplement for both students and professors. Facilitate collaborative learning through in-class activities and generates comprehensive study materials. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Delivers top-notched evidence-based UX research and design by recruiting and mentoring talented young designers in your area. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Feeling stressed or down? Helps you find a therapist you can truly trust, and talk to immediately, whenever you need. 

Kickstarter  Prototype Team Folder  Video

Our service seeks to bridge the gap between you and your doctor. Our personal help bots will keep track of your recovery in between visits. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Saving money with those closest to you can be stressful. A fun and easy way to team up with friends and family to work towards a common financial goal. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Spring 2015 and earlier

Connects individuals who need help learning new technologies with tech savvy mentors through community workshops.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Missing a great event because no one wants to go? Create new social connections around events! Find new friends and buy tickets for concerts, sports, and shows. Kickstarter  Team Folder   Video

Discover where your creativity unfolds with an app that helps creative individuals find inspiring places to innovate.

Kickstarter  Prototype  Team Folder  Video

Makes travel planning fun and easy by allowing globetrotters to collaboratively discover and adopt travel itineraries from others.

 Team Folder  Video

Makes gift giving less stressful, less time consuming, and more fun by helping you find inspired and highly personalized gift ideas for friends and family. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder   Video

Helps foodies connect with local chefs for unique personalized cooking experiences, from choosing the freshest ingredients to mastering the kitchen. 

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Helps runners and other athletes connect with new workout partners, enter challenges together, and motivate active lifestyles.

Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

Offers fast and cheap shipping from local retailers by opportunistically enlisting other shoppers as delivery drivers.

Kickstarter   Team Folder 

Offers convenient, affordable breakfast delivery to working professionals.

 Kickstarter  Team Folder  Video

An online marketplace for homemade food that allows urbanites to buy home cooked meals and sell their own dishes to others. 

Kickstarter  All deliverables

A social mobile app that offers themed scavenger hunts in multiple locations and allows users to explore and learn about their cities. 

Kickstarter  All deliverables

An e-commerce service that provides a seamless shopping with multiple brands and allows shoppers to create and visualize outfits with different looks. 

Kickstarter  All deliverables

An app that helps drivers easily find parking spots by providing information on public parking spot availability and letting users rent out their personal parking spots. 

Kickstarter  All deliverables

Allows people to pay for parking through their mobile phone. It works by scanning a QR code that would automatically pair their car to the spot until they returned....more

Has two main functions: polling and betting. The user purchases a team's season that he wishes to follow and participate in polls and bets happening throughout the game. ...more

Rwanda Headlines provides news items to cell phone users in a place where newspapers are expensive and television rare. ...more

Real Aware is a website service and certification board to help consumers identify restaurants that responsibly recycle their food waste....more

A service designed to help disabled voters learn about voting locations and to arrange carpools on voting day....more