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Empowering creative entrepreneurs and organisations to connect and grow




The Colombian Ministry of Culture implemented a strategic pillar with the purpose of strengthening the creative and cultural sector within the country, recognizing it as a significant opportunity for economic growth.

In partnership with the Ministry, the University of Caldas has joined forces to actively contribute to this strategic pillar by establishing a research and development program called ClusterLab, which included the development of a digital platform.

The ask from the Minister was to design and develop a digital platform to bring together academia, creative entrepreneurs, and organisations of Colombia's creative sector fostering collaboration and growth.


University of Caldas

Colombian Ministry of Culture


Product Lead and UX Designer



  • Overseeing the design and development of the platform and working closely with cross-functional teams, including designers, developers, and stakeholders 

  • Organizing workshops to gain users’ insights and co-creation sessions to define the platform's key features

  • Defining the product strategy and roadmap together with my colleagues

  • Pitching the project to external partners

  • UX design (creating user journeys and personas, information architecture, and wireframing)

  • Co-creating the market launch


The creative ecosystem in Colombia is fragmented, and there is a lack of orchestration between the organisations that offer resources and support for creative initiatives and ventures. Many creative entrepreneurs struggle to access funding, learning and networking opportunities, limiting their potential for growth and success.


The challenge was to create a digital platform that could bring together creative entrepreneurs and organisations and provide them with the necessary tools and resources to thrive.

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Design Thinking

The design and development of the ClusterLab platform were shaped by the principles of the design thinking methodology, divided into two parts. The problem space (understand and define) and the solution space (ideate and prototype & develop).



Throughout the whole process, the team collaborated with several stakeholders of the Colombian creative ecosystem, such as the Ministry of Culture, incubators, cultural institutions and spaces, creative markets, universities and entrepreneurs to co-create the platform. 



In the first step, our goal was to understand the needs of the target audience and stakeholders in order to get insights that would guide us to understand the problem. 


We conducted explorative interviews with 15 potential end users aiming at building up an understanding of their needs, fears, motivations, values and ways of working. We visited their office or (creative) studios to learn more about their everyday life and the context in which they act.

Based on the interviews and observations, we created both an empathy map and users insights that synthesised the important findings that really captured the customer problem. The insights drove us in the concept development, prototyping and testing of our solution.



Unclear Growth Opportunities 

Entrepreneurs need to constantly identify new opportunities that can support them in sustaining and scaling their businesses. However, we realised that they find it difficult to know where and when they can access information regarding opportunities such as grants, funding, networking and learning programs.

Limited Multidisciplinary Collaboration 

Entrepreneurs are under growing pressure to create complex and innovative products and services as technology trends and customer demands evolve. However, they often lack the necessary capabilities, knowledge, and resources to meet these demands on their own. As an alternative, they seek collaboration with professionals from other disciplines but frequently face challenges in finding and connecting with potential collaborators.

Limited visibility and market access 

We realised that our target group mainly market their services through word-of-mouth and with their existing networks of family and friends. They find it challenging to have a more visible (online) presence and a higher exposure to their products and services, making it more challenging to connect with potential partners and reach (new) customers and markets.


Balancing Creativity and Business  

Entrepreneurs are usually part of small teams, fulfilling many roles beyond product or service creation. They lack the necessary knowledge on how to run the business and usually struggle to successfully escalate their initiatives. Entrepreneurs need to learn by themselves in a try-and-error manner, which can be time-consuming and take away from their focus on their core products or services.

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During the Define phase, we aimed to establish a common understanding of the problem within the team and with our stakeholders. Based on the insights gathered in the understand phase, we developed a problem statement that encapsulated the core challenge that our digital platform would aim to solve.


To better understand our target group, we identified three user profiles: entrepreneurs, freelancers, and organisation representatives. Using our research, we created user personas representing each of these profiles. These personas helped us visualize the goals, desires, and needs of potential platform users.


We used the personas to put the potential solution into context, facilitating design decisions that effectively addressed the needs of our target group. By referring to the personas throughout the design process, we aimed to ensure that the final platform would meet the specific needs of our users and stakeholders.


How can we design a digital platform for creative entrepreneurs and stakeholders of the Colombian creative industry that supports entrepreneurs to effectively access the relevant opportunities and resources offered by public organisations and enable the connection between entrepreneurs, partners and stakeholders?


During the ideation phase, the team focused on generating and exploring a range of ideas for how the digital platform could meet the needs and solve the problems of creative entrepreneurs and organisations. To facilitate this process, I prepared and led the ideation and co-creation workshops with stakeholders and potential end users.  


These workshops were guided by the insights gathered during the previous phases, which provided a deep understanding of the needs, goals, and pain points of the target users within the creative ecosystem. The team used this information to develop a high-level design solution and features that align with both the objectives established with stakeholders and the identified user's needs and goals. 

During the ideation workshops, we used various ideation techniques, such as brainstorming and reviewing examples of digital products to identify best practices and differentiation opportunities. We generated ideas for design solutions and evaluated and prioritized them based on their viability, feasibility and desirability. As a result of the co-creation sessions, we defined the key features of the digital platform and created mockups to present to users and stakeholders for their feedback. The mockups were refined through several iterations. Based on the mockups and features, we created the information architecture

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A digital platform for entrepreneurs and organisations of the Colombian creative ecosystem to connect, co-create, learn, exchange resources and build a community.


The platform leverages and articulates the knowledge, funding and promotion opportunities offered by cultural and creative organisations and facilitates the connection between both the entrepreneurs and organisations of the creative ecosystem.


The platform's key features include a collaboration space for co-creation, a community forum for networking and discussion and a streaming functionality for live events.


Customizable Website

Users can easily create their own personalized sites within the platform. By selecting the type of initiative, the platform generates a tailored template with relevant fields and features.


The interface streamlines the process of adding services and products, as well as integrating payment functionality, allowing them to sell their products online.


Users can join groups based on their interests and sectors within the creative industries, fostering connections and collaborations through forums that encourage them to share ideas and lessons learned and ask for advice.


Users can search for other users on the platform based on interests and expertise, send messages, and connect with potential collaborators. This way, entrepreneurs and stakeholders can expand their networks and showcase their work to potential clients and partners.


Users can post jobs and co-creation opportunities, which helps entrepreneurs and stakeholders discover emerging talent and potential collaborators. 


The platform offers a co-creation space that enables users to collaborate on projects, form teams and submit project proposals to organisations. With features such as shared project creation, document sharing, and interactive chat and forums, users can connect and collaborate.


The platform provides a streaming functionality that organisations can use to deliver virtual training, webinars and video tutorials.


Organisations can also publish in-person workshops they offer, creating a centralized space for entrepreneurs to access a wide range of learning opportunities with options for self-paced and live courses. Institutions benefit from having a space to promote their offerings to their target audience.


The platform connects entrepreneurs based on their interests and area of expertise with relevant mentors of the organisation's members of ClusterLab, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration.




In this phase, we developed the UI design and created mockups that we used to test the proposed solution with key stakeholders and potential users. We collected feedback and insights to create a clickable prototype.


We developed a functional prototype that was tested with a focus group to gather feedback on the design, functionality and user experience.  


After some iterations, we refined and improved the platform's features, UI/UX design and information architecture. At this stage, we started the development phase with a team of engineers. I proposed implementing an Agile scrum way of working to facilitate communication, collaboration and alignment between the design and development teams. 


After several iterations, we had the Clusterlab platform ready to launch. 



Launch strategy

Together with the Colombian Ministry of Culture, we created and implemented a market launch strategy focusing on:

  • Driving platform adoption 

  • Building the community

  • Promoting platform visibility

  • Forming strategic partnerships

Key Results

The platform was launched successfully and quickly gained traction within the Colombian creative ecosystem. Users highlighted the range of resources and opportunities available.


Clusterlab attracted the attention of several government organizations and incubators, which saw its potential in supporting and maturing the creative ecosystem in the country, including the Colombian Ministry of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), which asked to replicate the platform, targeting the Colombian digital ecosystem. 

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ClusterLab has become an investment objective in Colombian government policy.

Collaborations were formed with several universities, cultural institutions and creative markets to offer content and opportunities to platform users.

Key results after 10 months


Being responsive

Working Agile highly benefits collaboration and communication in multidisciplinary teams. Practices such as regular meetings, progress updates and team retrospectives improved the ways of working, team cohesion and responsiveness to changes.

Testing and learning

Gathering user feedback early on in the process allowed us to refine the platform solution, prioritizing the features that are more relevant for the users before investing additional resources into the full-scale development of the platform

Engaging the audience

Having a moderator who curates and creates relevant and engaging content is crucial to keep the platform's community active and growing. This ensures that users can find valuable information and connect with other entrepreneurs and organisations.

Personalizing the experience

As a recommendation for future releases, the platform could create a personalized experience based on user data, providing relevant content for every specific user and personalized feed. This approach can enhance the user experience and increase engagement on the platform.


Felipe César Londoño - Program Director 

Paula López - Program Manager 

Cristian Camilo Marín - UI Designer

Cristina Sabogal - Researcher 

Carolina Montoya - Researcher 

Juan Herrera - Technical Lead

Nathan Verne - Intern

Camila Hurtado - Product Lead / UX designer

Photo credits: ClusterLab

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