Mumbai-based Artha Creative Studio combines user interface design with lean methodology to help startups focus on creating and testing an MVP.
Our country sees young entrepreneurs coming up every day. With stars in their eyes and wearing their passion on their sleeve, they are confident of becoming the next Flipkart, OYO or redBus. But many fail without making a mark owing to the fact that they don’t really know how to develop a product or a service even if their idea is solid.
At the beginning, when there is not much money and resources, it is best to adopt ‘lean methodology’. It is no longer just a buzzword; several startups and companies are increasingly deriving benefit from using lean methodology--going about product development, marketing and sales with as little waste as possible before scaling--to trim the fat and get the product-market fit right from the start.
And Mumbai-based Artha Creative Studio, a user experience (UX) and user interface consultancy startup, is helping startups on their lean journey to create a minimal viable product (MVP).
Artha interacts with the various departments of a startup, understands their problems and provides solutions applying lean methodology.
"Once the MVP is established, a startup can collect data, analyse it and work on growing the business further," says Aakash Jethwani, Founder, Artha Creative Studio.
How does the platform work?
Artha Creative Studio’s team--consisting of creative, technology and management experts--collaborates with the various departments of a company to understand the technical and marketing goals and requirements and skill sets of the organisation or startup.
"We collaborate with the client from conceptualisation of an idea to its production," Aakash says.
Artha’s focus is to ensure the startup works with, follows and adopts the lean methodology as it is easy to get distracted while in the process of creating a sound MVP. Once an MVP is discovered, defined or made, Artha plans and creates the architecture by considering aspects like technology, marketing, creativity and process optimisation.
"We make sure the brand strategy is used to its fullest in the future for communication, design, technology and in driving growth," the founder says.
It is then that they experiment with the prototype. They incorporate various testing activities and get the feedback of the prospective target audience on the prototype. "If it’s an ecommerce platform, we go ahead and interview the target audience based on their demography," Aakash says.
For enterprise resource planning (ERP) of, say, a logistics platform, Artha Creative Studio goes to their end user - the delivery executives, to get inputs and test the product.
"At different phases, we test the prototypes, improve them and then only go ahead," Aakash adds.
Given the nature of their involvement in the startup’s journey, Artha works with a maximum of six startups at a given point of time.
So, how are they ‘leaning’ it?
For an event booking platform, Artha Creative Studio helped improve their product by adopting a strategy of listing events and costs on the website two days before the bookings opened. “The seats were allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and the booking for all the seats were opened at the same time. This drove traction and all the seats filled up within an hour,” Aakash explains.
Similarly, Artha Creative Studio helped in the product launch of an ecommerce platform selling designer flexible lights. "They were just starting out their brand and we came up with a strategy for their product to analyse user interest as well as test their product-market fit. We asked them to simplify the process by taking customer orders before getting into production stage and asking the users for payment during order fulfilment," he adds. The strategy was a success and the company went on to launch more products later, following this same strategy for selling.
A lean team
Aakash (28) studied Computer Software Engineering from Rajasthan Technical University and started his own educational platform with a team of 22 people. After graduation, he went on to join FindUrClass, as the technical head and CTO in 2014.
Having a knack for design and driven by passion, Aakash left the educational platform and worked as a tech head at Cyber Octet before starting Artha Creative Studio in April 2017.
"Following the lean methodology in UI/UX design is not easy. We had to build a cross-function team having a unique combination of technological know-how, strong market skills, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and experience," Aakash explains. Artha is seven-member strong, including three experts from the technology, creative and management domains.
The design startup has angel investor Anirudh A Damani, Managing Partner of Artha Venture Fund, as its mentor and investor. Anirudh has invested in 60 startups including Oyo Rooms, Purplle, BabyChakra and NowFloats. He has been an Advisory Board Member of Venture Catalyst.
Traction so far
Artha Creative Studio has worked with B2B businesses across sectors including education, enterprise, finance, healthcare, and information technology (including SaaS). Their portfolio boasts of 27 startups and four MNCs. Most of their clients are from Tier I cities - Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Some of them are Synergy Power Solutions, Active Intelligence, Home Side Kick, Cloud Force and Platinum Hotels.
Artha Creative Studio charges clients on an hourly basis for the effort the team puts in. The startup has grown by 7x in 2018, as compared to 2017. Their list of clients has gone up by 5x in the last year.
With digitisation entering the startup environment, it is very important to have innovation and effective UX and User Interface designs to stay ahead in the game. According to Siliconindia, the 'Top 5 UX/UI Designing Companies in India 2018' are Bridge UX Design Studios, Divami, INKONIQ, UX Interface and ZEUX. Besides these, the Indian design market also has startup players like Bengaluru-based design startup Redd, Lucid Designs and Perdix.
What makes Artha Creative Studio stand apart is its unique way of incorporating lean methodology in its UI/UX consulting, after doing extensive research on the business and their target customers.
"We craft designs and monitor them continuously to ensure intuitive experience, usability, and make sure business goals are met," Aakash adds.
In the near future, the startup plans to build a framework and tools for startups around this process.