New Nasscom-Facebook studio helps start-up products meet global standards

In a bid to ensure products built by Indian start-ups can stand up to global standards, IT industry body Nasscom has opened a first-of-its-kind design studio for start-ups to get hand holding from industry mentors to build better products.

The Design4India programme, which has been built in partnership with social network giant Facebook and co-working space provider WeWork, will focus on helping start-ups design better products unlike other labs and accelerators which largely focus only on fine tuning the business models.

“Indian companies are often engineering and product led, but not design led. Data shows that design driven firms outpace others by 200 per cent. Hence, it is important that design is not an afterthought but is embedded in every step of product development,” said Satyajeet Singh, head, strategic product partnerships, Asia and South Asia, Facebook.

Nasscom is seeking to shift the focus to design pitches from the ubiquitous business plan pitches that the start-up community has always seen.

Experts from the industry say start-ups and entrepreneurs often shut down as they fail to realise the importance of good design in their products early on.

“The ‘open for all’ design studio is built to foster a culture of testing, learning, iteration and prototyping of products and services to increase productivity and innovation for entrepreneurs and designers,” said Ravi Gururaj, member, Nasscom executive council.

While Facebook will provide financial aid to run the programme, WeWork has provided the space for the first such design studio in the Koramangala locality of Bengaluru, a hub for young start-ups in the city. The trio also plans to take the initiative to Tier II and Tier III cities.

The programme is looking at bringing about a fundamental shift in the way Indian entrepreneurs and start-ups build products – thinking about design and usability rather than just the technology.

Karan Virwani, general manager, WeWork India, said providing such a workspace for companies and individuals to learn about design and develop products accordingly will help the co-working space giant identify new players who can come onto its platform and will help it expand further.

The studio will provide entrepreneurs access to UX design process, virtual reality tool kits and user testing to enhance their products, identify problems in the product design and help in rapid prototyping of new products for quicker market access. It will also give opportunity to students from design schools from across the country to work with start-ups to get hands on training.