Aakash, Artha and Designer-as-a-Service

YourStory did a profile on one of Artha’s in-house companies Artha Creative Studio, led by Aakash Jethwani. He is a thought leader in the design thinking space and his thoughts were covered today in this ADC article.

I have known Aakash for almost 5 years since he first sent me a funding proposal for his EdTech start-up that taught ethical hacking to coders. I asked him to provide a hacker’s analysis  for one of the start-ups I was leading a round of investment in. His report was so thorough (and shocking) that I recruited him as the CTO for the company he had analysed!

As the CTO, he taught himself web design and built a fantastic website at only a fraction of the market cost. During the process, he experienced the limitations of an in-house designer first hand and saw a niche in creating innovative web and app designs for start-ups. He reached out to me saying that his work with our investee company was done and that he was ready for a bigger challenge.

Around the same time, I noticed that although many of our investee companies had in-house staff to help them with designs, most of them were mediocre. This did not make any sense and I learnt that:

  1. Start-ups cannot afford experienced designers as they are very expensive
  2. In-house designers that start-ups can afford are juniors with little experience, who need access to several tools to produce unique & innovative designs. Those tools could cost as much as ₹25-40,000 per month – as much or higher than an experienced designer’s salary!
  3. The in-house designer’s design suggestions are overridden by the tech heads because they lead to extra development work. Therefore, designers are instructed to build designs that cater to the needs of the tech team rather than the company’s target customer.  When this design fails, as it should, who gets blamed for it? You guessed right – the designer!
  4. Designers suffer from tunnel vision as they are only working on a single project within limited boundaries drawn by the tech team. Over a period, their enthusiasm dies down or they leave for greener pastures. The new designer that comes, brings in new energy but that dies again soon.

When Aakash proposed creating a design studio where he would…

  • create innovative web/app designs for start-ups
  • work with the tech development team to implement the design
  • monitor the audience’s interaction and make incremental changes

 it was music to my ears.

I asked him to test this thesis by working on in-house projects first. He provided the designs for:

Next, I introduced him to my close network who raved about the design as well as the results they received from his work.

I could see that he was onto something big so after all the tests we decided to induct him as the CEO of an Artha brand. Aakash has been baked over hot coals to get this job but I am happy to have him on board.

If you are looking for an innovative design for your company, I would strongly recommend that you reach out to aakash@artha.studio.  

11/2019

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