For the DSM Innovation Center, we did ethnographic design research in rural India. We mapped the daily lives of farmers in rural India (Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat) to determine market viability and to design a business model for livestock feed supplements.






6 months


Service Designer

A photo of a workshop in rural India

We spent 2 months across India in three different states (Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat) to interview rural farmers, local NGOs, and livestock stakeholders to identify opportunities. DSM was developing a new, but expensive livestock feed supplement, which required a new business model to be viable.

Photo of an interview, taken place in rural India.

Interviewing local farmers, talking about their daily lives

The field research focused on three stakeholders: the local farmers (livestock), local farm related stakeholders (the milk-man, veterinarian practices, etc.), and local NGOs that focused on improving farmer's lives.

Local farmers in India, looking at a conversation starter card

Conversation starter cards, to start and engage conversations

We designed several tools to conduct our research. We createc conversation starter cards, that helped introduce ourselves, break the ice, and start conversations around the topics we were interested at: farming, livestock, spending patterns, and their general needs and aspirations.

More photos of business model workshops in rural India. People drawing on whiteboards to map out potential business models.

Business model workshops with different stakeholders across India

We also facilitated several workshops to create and explore new business models with different stakeholders. By designing specific cards based on our research and using a whiteboard, we could create new business models directly with stakeholders, identify their needs, and come up with strategies to implement them.

Photo of a business model workshop with stakeholders in rural India
Business model workshop to determine priorities
For local farmers, we also created a finance-based tool to identify their spending patterns and priorities around livestock. This also provided vital information about how much they were willing to spend on livestock feed supplements, like the one from DSM.
Photo of a workshop to identify farmer's spending patterns, taken in rural India

A workshop with farmers to talk about spending patterns for livestock

At the DSM office in Delhi (Gurgaon), we also organized workshops with internal stakeholders to determine priorities, gather input on our different concepts, and let everybody have a voice in the discussion. One of the main findings was that the feed supplement was too expensive for the farmers. The way forward was to find a way to subsidize the (too expensive) feed supplement.

Workshop at the DSM office in India, discussing different concepts
Internal workshop at DSM India

We found a way to subsidize the feed supplement by collaborating with other companies that were highly interested in rural livestock data, which is hard to gather in rural India. Other companies would subsidize DSM's  livestock feed to the farmers, in return of getting access to rural data. 

A visual diagram of a local business model in India.
A visual diagram of a local business model in India.
The new platform KISAN.DAT (Hindi for farmer's data) enables a win scenario for every involved stakeholder (for the farmer, DSM, and for third parties). Finally, we designed a tool that facilitates discussions and helps onboarding new members to KISAN.DAT.
A toolkit to onboard new partners in the KISAN.DAT project

Business model tool to onboard new stakeholders to KISAN.DAT


Arne Kranenburg
Isabelle Garcia van Gool
Miquel Ballester Salvà