DesignCoz: A digital agency with the mind of an entrepreneur and the heart of a designer

DesignCoz is a UI-UX Design agency that helps businesses transform their ideas into products. They started in 2015 in Mumbai and are now a 12-member design team with recent expansion in the Middle East. Their expertise lies in designing enterprise apps, websites, web portals, mobile apps and software for both B2C and B2B products.

They specialize in domains like Banking, Financial Services, Healthcare, E-commerce, Supply Chain Management, Sourcing, and Childcare to name a few. By following design methodologies like ethnographic research, user testing, customer journey mapping, task flow analysis, information architecture, wireframing, responsive design, etc they have been able to deliver engaging products.

How it all started?

Rewind the tape to 2015. Devina Coutinho, the CoFounder at DesignCoz was then working with Adobe Systems. After her 4-year stint in Bangalore, she wanted to relocate to Mumbai and was looking out for a UX Design job. The start-up scene was booming at the time and she received a couple of offers. While negotiating, one of the startups that was cash-strapped but keen on hiring her, made an interesting offer.

They offered to pay within their budget, but reduced the working days in a week to 2. This gave a lot of flexibility and Devina decided to approach other start-ups with the same concept. To her pleasant surprise, the other start-ups also agreed and by the end of the 1st month there were 4 start-ups that she had to visit 1-2 times a week and work out of their offices.

Around the same time, her sister Althea Coutinho also graduated from Symbiosis Institute of Design and was contemplating her next step. Althea had worked previously with June Software for 2 years as a Game and UI-UX Designer. As there was more than enough work coming from these 4 start-ups, the sister duo came together and DesignCoz was formed. At this point, they neither had a website nor any connections -Just the desire to do good work.

As Devina puts it, “Maybe doing a regular job would have been easier than visiting different offices on different days. However, in a consulting role where one can be fired with no notice, no questions asked, you need to generate value for your clients and their business every day. You suddenly grow up overnight and become more accountable for your designs and decisions. It’s no longer just about how good your mock-ups are. The bottom line is that the product either gets shipped or not. And your payments are tied to the success of the product in the market.”

Working with clients in-house as their extended team in a cross-functional environment helps improve business thinking. It wasn’t only about user needs anymore, it is about everyone’s needs – marketing, sales, business development, product management and technology. Everyone had to be satisfied to run the business and execute strategies successfully.

Since they visited their client’s office only once a week and had to make the best use of time, they got better organized, efficiency and improved their communication skills. The soft skills learned in dealing with almost 60-90 people at a time across companies helped them develop techniques that fueled future growth.

The sister duo worked as consultants to start-ups for over a year. They eventually decided to stop working on-site to free up their bandwidth to take up more projects. After that, they moved into their own office space in 2016 and recruited their first batch of full-time employees. Since then, they have grown rapidly and never looked back.

The difference between delivering merely good design mock-ups, and actually shipping successful products is Accountability.

In 2011 when Devina passed out of IDC, IIT Bombay, designers were recruited at engineering designations in companies. The word UI or UX Design was not commonly used. There were only 3 institutes in India offering UI-UX Design courses. Now, the number has almost increased 10 times in 8 years. Learning and practising design has become very easy. However, the accountability is still missing somewhere. Just submitting design mockups to developers is not enough. Designers need to take complete ownership until their designs reach the market and real users actually use the products.

Good customer service is sales on autopilot

 People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~Teddy Roosevelt

DesignCoz have worked with many companies of different sizes, across different geographies and across varied domains. Coverfox, Aster Pharmacies, Timesaverz, Craftsvilla, Instarem, Adobe Systems, Edelweiss, Homelane, ICICI Securities, Oro wealth, etc. are some of their clients.

They genuinely want the products designed to succeed in the market. The client notices this care and craftsmanship and in turn, rewards them with repeat business and client referrals. Their designers are tech savvy, detail-oriented and ownership driven. They are a 12-member company and all 12 employees are designers only. They have managed to grow organically without any budget or resources allocated for sales or marketing. Their biggest achievement is that clients are happy with their work and have supported their growth.

Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.

Today many designers are quitting conventional jobs to work independently for themselves and only do work they enjoy. Thus it’s important to encourage intrapreneurship within a company to ensure that a designer learns and grows constantly. At DesignCoz, there is a firm belief that the only way to grow is to grow together. They know the strengths and weaknesses of every employee in the company and a customized growth path is defined for everyone. Apart from that, they have weekly workshops and talks from industry experts to ensure that they are constantly upgrading their skill sets and awareness on market trends.

 The key to success is to focus on goals and not on obstacles

DesignCoz has been 100% bootstrapped and self-sufficient since its inception. During the initial years, the focus was on mastering the trade. This year the focus is on operational efficiency and automating the project delivery pipeline. Other functions like sales, marketing, project delivery, accounts, HR, etc. are being set up to take DesignCoz to the next level. The CoFounders are determined to transfer their passion into a full-fledged digital service provider with global focus. So every day is a new challenge with new milestones to achieve.

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