Startup of the Week: Ritesh Rathi’s Designaren

Start1Ritesh Rathi and Nirali Parekh Rathi returned to India from US after 10 years. The couple decided to focus on their dream of being a part of the designing industry in India thereby contributing not only with great designs, but also with great work ethic.

Here is Ritesh Rathi, Co-Founder, Designaren sharing with IndianMediaBook his journey and way forward for Designaren.

How long did it take to put up Designaren?

Designaren started at the local bars and coffee shops around Mumbai. We started with only two principals in the beginning and we felt established only once we moved into our offices a year later. Designaren as such was not put together, but we were taking any and all projects that came our way. I would go as far as saying that Designaren is still not put together. We are constantly changing, and adapting to the dynamic design and tech space and this desire to be agile, we are hoping, will always keep us on our toes.

What is the scope of creative design companies in India? How is the situation for start-ups in this space?

The space is vibrant. There is a huge demand for good designs especially in the mobile and web space. India has always had designers, many who were earlier involved in DTP tasks or Illustrations, but not necessarily for their thinking. This has now changed. Designers have become essential for new businesses as well as older companies looking to rebrand and revisit the market.

If you can provide good design, while understanding your clients needs and providing your services in a timely and professional manner, there is a huge chance of tasting success as a start-up.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Communication between designers and business has been a key problem. Many clients have come to us with the idea strongly embedded in their head, and often we try to break that preconceived notion. A good designer will always challenge what the expectation is because they must believe in themselves and point out if a client is making an unwise decision. Thus, we had to also learn the mindset of the Indian businessman.

Similarly we have to convince our clients that as designers we are not just aestheticians who are going to be putting a coat of paint on their project. We want to be involved and want to put our name on projects that we can be proud of ourselves.

Please take us through your funding journey?

We are basically self funded.

Please shed light on your revenue model.

We work differently as compared to most design and advertising agencies and we do not have a rate card. We always look at the quantum of work that is in front of us, and use a model to judge which of our designers will be working on what part of the project. We follow the model that consultancies such as KPMG, Deloitte and McKenzie follow.

For instance, an app with gestural interactions cannot be at the same cost as a static page with static content. This practice does take longer, but in the end we feel that we are giving our clients an honest quotation.

How have you marketed Designaren? Which tools and techniques have been most successful?

We have almost entirely relied on word of mouth as our biggest marketing tool. We realized early on that a pitch from a satisfied customer is the best kind of advertising that money can’t buy.

What things you keep in mind while dealing with your clients?

Each client is different. And each industry is different. Designaren is industry agnostic because we know that the needs of each client are different. Also, clients thoroughly appreciate honesty.

We have to also convince our clients that you are not the user of your product. We try to paint scenarios where we like to place our client in their users/customers shoes and ask them questions like “Do you think a 38 year old mother of two will use your product?”

The practice of persona and scenario based design is a common interaction design tool, and it helps the client understand why we have made certain design decisions.

Has Designaren got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

Yes. In fact we were surprised with the growth we have seen and the type of clients that we are attracting. We always intended to follow a simple mantra of do your work diligently and good things will happen. And thus far, that seems to have worked out pretty well.

Are there any plans of launching a Designaren app?

No we are primarily a services based company, but we are in the middle of creating our own product not related to design which will be shortly launched.

What are your future plans? Where do you see Designaren in next two years?

As principals of Designaren, besides working on great projects, we want to be knowledge sharers. We would like to contribute to the design dialogue that is taking place around India.

We would also like to be more selective of the projects we take as we would like to really maintain and manage the quality of work that is coming out of our offices. This is not to say we want to work with certain types of companies, but to say that we want to work with like minded clients who are also passionate of their projects and will make sure that they put out the best product or service they can.

Edited and Compiled by Lubna Surti