Although people in the startup world would talk breathlessly about design thinking, great design and designers are a scarce commodity. Meet Srinivas Kumar, one of the few design guys in town who think and act differently.
At Wizardry Studios, his design firm, he has decided to spend a third of his time on startups, a third for inclusive design and the rest on corporate clients.
Schooled in a vedic school at the outskirts of Bangalore, Srinivas taught himself product design the hard way. First as a toolmaker at Toyota he learned much about automotive design. Then as a designer at Titan Industries, working for Michael Foley.
Startups and inclusive design are two themes that he is obsessed with. Recently, his studio designed Gecko, the low powered bluetooth device which caught the attention of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniack & went on to raise over $100k on Indiegogo.
“Entrepreneurs , small businesses and even startups have realized the difference Design Can bring to their products and services,” says Srinivas who is now working with a few startups.
Besides Gecko, last year, his studio built a few innovative products including a mixer-grinder for the Indian market. Their Duroware oral hygiene product won design awards but ran into distribution challenges. “I’m more of a problem solver so it was inevitable for me to move on and solve other problems,” he says.
The idea is to help startups build a product that is as close to what he calls the ideal final result. “A good product or service will never come with a user manual,” he says.
Srinivas is also a big proponent of inclusive design. Simply put, he wants disabled people, like the blind, to be able to use a product which is used by other people as well. “It doesn’t cost much to build inclusivity into a product,” he says. “All you need to do is to think about them when you are designing one. You shouldn’t have to build a separate product for them,” he says.
In fact, with most clients, he insists on making his designs inclusive.
Srinivas looks at design as problem solving in a creative and efficient way. Here’s a quick take by him on design thinking for startups.
1. A great idea does not make a great product or service. A dire need makes a great product or service
2 .Be the Customer: Be the person who is going to use your service or product. See how the product/ service excites them. Or helps them or even give a sense of pride of owning. Remember, your product would never be in isolation,It would always be in a environment of use.
3. Always try to find the IFR – The Ideal final result. The Ideality of any product is No Product ! So whatever you do, people need to put in an extra effort/ or a new way to use it. Make it as easy for them to fulfill that need. A good product or service would never come with a user manual !
4. Test , Test , Test and Test more. Put it through a rigorous use case testing. When done.. test more. You can always afford more time testing and redesigning before production. Once it is in the customer’s hands, you will have very little control to convince a second better buy. And of course the cost multiplies.
5. Value for money – does not mean cheap. it means the value derived is equal to the money paid. Do not aim for the lowest cost aim for the best product to suit the need.
6. Be humble- be receptive. I couldn’t agree to this point more. You will always want feedback, multiple brains are better than one. If you get a feedback graciously accept it think through and if you feel its right adapt it. Its your product that’s getting better.