2016: Many Highs, Few Lows, A Few Misses, Lots of Learning, Absolutely No Regret!

2016 Pensaar milestones

That pretty much sums our first year. Punching well above our weights, backed by an unparalleled passion and commitment to our mission to make a difference – one experience, one customer at a time, it’s been a roller coaster ride we want to keep visiting!

As much as we would love to talk about the healthy economics of the year gone by, true to our values we want to talk about the experiences we’ve gathered. Experiences of the kind which builds character.

When we talk of experiences, inevitably, our references are to people. Our year one is riddled with many such superlative experiences, credit for which goes to the people whom we crossed paths with.

We’ve learned that if you truly dare to dream people come together to help make it happen, opening up multiple doors you couldn’t have imagined could be open.

With all humility we were two women that started off in a coffee shop with a big dream and the desire to revolutionize how customers experience our client solutions and services. A year later we look at the year gone by and stand proud of the impact we’ve been able to influence, the wide spectrum of companies we’ve interacted with, the fabulous team we’ve built and most importantly for the number of end-customers we’ve created awesome experiences for. What we’ve learned is that if you truly dare to dream, people come together to help make it happen. Evidence of which is visible in the range of our work.

We’ve helped a total of 22 clients solve their business goals. These clients are across various domains, across countries and set up differently. They either want to understand their customers better and build awesome experiences for them or are looking to invigorate their organizations to be more creative and solve real problems differently and innovatively.

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Design Thinking is a methodical problem solving method, it is a mindset! We’ve used Design Thinking to solve a variety of strategic problems for our clients:

  • In-depth research to understand what customers really wants and discover key customer insights that reveal unmet needs
  • Rebrand a leading IT solutions provider to showcase the essence of the company and what it truly stands for
  • Visioning exercise with a global banking and financial services company to bring about changes in the organisation
  • Developing new strategies for a telecommunications company by re-framing their problem and creating innovative solution approaches
  • Re-imagine the future of connected vehicles and co-create multiple solutions with a global automaker at the forefront of innovation
  • New business strategies & goals for a supply chain solution provider
  • Innovative and differentiated business solutions for an education institution that we ran rapid experiments to test our hypothesis

A lot of 2016’s strategic work has been under wraps because of the nature of it. We definitely hope to be able to point to them soon! Here are the few we can talk about:

  • A boutique leadership training firm, Navgati was looking to scale their business using technology without trading off on their USP- highly qualified trainers. The solution was a gamified learning and assessment platform that allows people to play out scenarios and learn from the outcomes being played out by them and their peers.
  • While working with a fin tech company we co-created an intelligent financial assistant that makes recommendations and manages your money for you based on your preferences. It empowers people to make better investments and create delightful experiences by way of quick, one-click transactions.
  • Co-creating with Flipkart to make the seller support process more efficient was another revelatory experience. Extensive research was conducted to create an optimal reporting portal to monitor the health of the support team and generate reports related to performance and seller satisfaction. Insights gathered here eventually led to us working on their vendor portal too.
  • Redii– a SaaS company in Australia doing fabulous work in rewards and recognition at the workplace. In their search for someone to ask the right questions and also use design thinking to understand the market for their product and understand key messages and drivers for their customers they reached out to us. Read more about their journey with us here.
  • Sustainability is a common theme all of us here at Pensaar feel very passionately about and like a moth to a flame we keep going back to it. Work by way of HasiruDala Innovations and Bee’Ah, both waste management companies has led us down the path of co-creating with their stakeholders to ideate and generate new solutions having understood the pain points of customers.
  • A concept café, Just Be, looking to create lasting, interactive experiences for its customers approached us to help ideate and generate a roadmap of unique ways to engage customers through their space, activities and the overall experience they give their customers.

True to our mission of sharing our knowledge and expertise with design thinking widely, we’ve made the time to try various formats of learning:

  • We launched the design thinking summit in two phases, garnering partnerships with premier organizations like IIM-B, YourStory and Intuit. A gathering that began with 70+ participants learning how to apply design thinking towards their businesses grew into a 200+ gathering in the second phase. We still have a hard time believing we pulled it off but it’s a feeling and an accomplishment that will be held close to our hearts.
  • We had great support and met some wonderful people on this journey. People made the time to evangelize design thinking at the summit and set aside time to discuss design thinking in India and share experiences. Sharing space at industry forums too has been a great way to connect and swap stories with other entrepreneurs and design thinkers.
  • We’ve helped companies like ITC, Flipkart and educational institutions like IIM-B help build the culture of innovation, learn how to articulate customer insight – insights that inspire innovation, creativity, innovation and rapid experimentation skills in their respective organizations.
  • We have taken every opportunity to share our learnings with our partners Zinnov, NASSCOM, TiE, Product Nation, iSpirit- fabulous organizations that share our love for creating awesome customer experiences.

Of course we haven’t left the startups behind. We make time to mentor startups and have worked with accelerators to entrepreneurs to apply design thinking in the way they seek to solve problems.

It is often said that “If you have tried something and it hasn’t worked, then you’re working on the wrong problem”.

Design thinking is a lot about reframing your problem and it can only begin with building empathy and recognizing the pain points and needs of your customer. We’ve adopted these techniques having identified a need for solutions to achieve better product market fit.

It is humbling to believe that only in late 2015 we began as a team of two working out of co-working spaces and cafés and have a now grown into a sizeable organization of 10 with a space to call our own. Having completed a year of meaningful work we have been reflecting on our work, partners and the network of people we have built. People who constantly keep reminding us that we are on the right track and would continue to join us in making an impact through the work we do.

This article was first published on LinkedIn

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