The University of Newcastle, Australia

Industrial designer and entrepreneur shares his story helping founders execute their ideas

Friday, 3 July 2020

Josh Jeffress shares his founder journey building Design Anthology at I2N's Startup Stories

Josh Jeffress has spent most of his professional life helping others execute their ideas. Since 2006, he and his team have carved out a unique space at the nexus of ideas and product development and have translated concepts into practical solutions for startups through to large corporates.

At I2N's Startup Stories virtual webinar on Wednesday 1 July, Josh shared his journey so far having delivered over 100 projects across aeronautics, medical devices, consumer electronics and more. He shared his unique approach to each project and explained, "breaking innovation down into a predictable and explainable method keeps communication flowing and communication is king".

Design Anthology is a design agency that has enjoyed numerous accolades and wins for innovation and design, most recently picking up Hunter Manufacturing’s Excellence in Innovation, and Lake Macquarie’s Excellence in Small Business. Josh regularly contributes to the local ecosystem as a part-time lecturer, speaker and is a valued mentor as part of the University of Newcastle’s Venture Mentor Service.

Catch up on Startup Stories with Josh Jeffress.

Josh Jeffress

Top takeaways:

  • By starting out with little time and money you must be ruthless in your decision making and every cent you spend (but not with people!).
  • Josh expands on this by explaining the importance of having a plan B, C and D so when it comes time to make a decision you can act fast.
  • In the early stages your business requires a lot of sacrifice. You must work hard and that takes up time.
  • Over the years we’ve learned, if you really do listen to your customer and try to understand the pain points you’re able to identify opportunities that enable better solutions.
  • If you don’t understand your customer then your solution isn’t going to be warranted and people aren’t going to want to pay for it which means it will fail.
  • It’s especially hard for a founder to not do everything. It’s vital that you build a team on trust so that when you say to a customer, we’re going to do this, you can be sure it will be done.
  • Josh stresses the need to try and be diverse in the industries you work in and types of customers you work with. “It’s very relevant in the current environment with COVID19 because some businesses have gone from having great revenue to having nothing.” Check out our Creating Value and Emerging from COVID19 video series for practical approaches and tools in times of rapid change.
  • There is no ideal age to found a startup. Josh thinks it’s more about being ready for the sacrifices required and do you have the grit and determination?
  • It’s important to understand that an idea has no value until it’s commercialised.
  • If someone comes to us with a bad idea we aren’t afraid to let them know. It’s vital that our customers don’t waste their resources. I2N Validator is a great opportunity for teams to validate their solution!
  • Josh shares his experience of being a founder with four children, and says, “balancing work, family and life with entrepreneurship is extremely difficult but having a clear plan is the best way to manage that”.
  • Josh describes Newcastle as a great place to build a product. It is full of smart people and has an excellent manufacturing pedigree.
  • He goes on to describe the Hunter region as having a great innovation ecosystem. The one thing we’ve historically not been good at but are improving on is promoting ourselves and promoting our key strengths. The I2N newsletter is a great way to hear more about the great work happening in the region.

The Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) is an initiative of the University of Newcastle aimed at boosting economic growth and diversity through entrepreneurship and innovation in the Hunter region. We fuel the success of innovators and entrepreneurs, regardless of their affiliation to the University, to build great ventures by connecting them to community, coaching, customers and capital through our Innovation Hubs and programs.

Keep up to date with future I2N events, programs and opportunities by subscribing to I2N's monthly newsletter or visit

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