Startup Mantra: Weaving design solutions into biz strategy to draw success

BySalil Urunkar
May 27, 2023 12:21 AM IST

Zazzy helps brands build and scale their products, gain profit through innovative and creative ideas

Design is an essential aspect of any product, be it a candy or a website. It is the design that creates a user’s first impression and helps establish a connection with the brand. Design for familiarity and not for innovation is the underlying thought behind such design strategies. However, many brands struggle to create products that are visually stunning, user-friendly, and effective. They often lack the expertise and resources to design and develop transformative user experiences that capture the mood of their products and communicate brand values.

Jay Mistry (3rd from L) and his team. (HT PHOTO)
Jay Mistry (3rd from L) and his team. (HT PHOTO)

As a result, they fail to engage their target audience and achieve their desired business outcomes. To bridge this market gap, Zazzy, a Pune-based design startup founded by Jay Mistry in July 2020, is leveraging innovative strategies in branding, UI (user interface), UX (user experience), and marketing to help brands elevate digital experiences and craft human-centered digital products people love; and establish them as forward-thinking brands. Prioritising user experience over flashy design trends, Zazzy’s approach involves weaving interaction design (IxD), visual design, information architecture elements, and other elements of interface design intricately to capture the mood of products and communicate brand values.

Starting point

Originally from a middle-class family in Gujarat, Jay studied computer science from Visvesvaraya Technological University at Hospet near Hampi. He began his career as an engineer, but his passion for design eventually led him to transition into that field. Jay has 10+ years of design experience, having previously held leadership positions at Embibe, Reliance Jio, and a Silicon Valley-based health tech startup funded by Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator.

Jay said, “I started Zazzy with a desire to see an Indian digital startup rise to the top five globally and solve significant problems for global brands that impact billions of people. With this strong motivation, I made the decision to start the brand and pursue the vision. I am proud of my journey and excited for what the future holds.”

Experimenting

“We are a bunch of creative weirdos who thrive on turning boring briefs into eye-popping masterpieces. Our team comprises both young and experienced individuals who constantly experiment and innovate. Comprehending user behaviour and psychology is essential in achieving business objectives and we prioritise this approach to tackle pressing business problems effectively and ensure maximum value for our clients,” Jay said.

“We have come a long way since our inception back in August 2020. As a pandemic baby, Zazzy has faced its fair share of challenges, but we are proud to say that we have recently hit a major milestone by completing our 75th project. Our team has grown considerably over the last year and we have recently welcomed our 25th employee,” he said.

“We have been able to optimise our processes internally while keeping our 20-person team in mind. However, we are currently facing a challenge as we expand rapidly across all departments. Currently, we are trying to figure out the right process and mechanism to work across different time zones with team members. Although we have worked across the globe in different time zones with clients, the dynamics change slightly when working with internal teams,” Jay said.

“By the end of this financial year, we are expected to have a 50-person team, and we are optimising our internal processes with this in mind. Additionally, we are going global with offices in the US and Germany,” he added.

Team building, work culture

“Being a young startup, our business is culture oriented. It is very important to us that we maintain an open, exciting, and inclusive culture. We welcome suggestions from all members of the team. Our office does not have any cabins, partitions, etc that will create hierarchy. We firmly believe in mixing with the people we work with. We have team lunches and coffee breaks where we talk about our life and things happening outside of work. We as a business are a people-oriented company. We offer perks such as book clubs, skill growth seminars, etc. We also believe in instant recognition, where outstanding work is instantly rewarded. Additionally, our unlimited leave policy does not tie down our team in case of any emergency they have,” Jay said.

“Our team consists of a diverse group of individuals with varying levels of experience. Our department heads bring at least eight years of relevant industry experience to the table, while our UI and UX designers range from 1 to 4 years of experience. We also have a few freshers and interns who are eager to learn and grow with our team. We are always on the lookout for talented individuals to fill in any open positions we might have to offer. Additionally, we are always exploring new opportunities, for which we tend to hire people with specific skills,” he said.

Zazzy’s hiring process is compatible with the new-age work culture. Jay said, “Our hiring process consists of an alignment round where we check whether the skills match with our level of work, followed by a technical round where a task is assigned to the candidate to assess work and creativity. After cracking the technical round, an interview with the department lead is set up and the final interview and cultural round is conducted. In case of remote working, we also include a compatibility test which includes system compatibility, time compatibility, skill compatibility, and internet compatibility.”

Business model

Zazzy’s business model primarily revolves around providing design services to clients. Jay said, “A large portion (around 85 per cent) of our revenue comes from monthly retainers, where we work closely with clients as an extension of their design team. This enables us to build a long-term relationship with clients and provide ongoing support for their design needs. Additionally, we also take project-based work for clients (15 per cent) who require a more specific design solution. Overall, our goal is to provide high-quality design services to clients while establishing lasting partnerships that benefit both parties.”

“Our team ensures that every brand we work with not only meets but exceeds their goals. We take pride in delivering digital solutions that captivate and engage audiences in unique and exciting ways. We take pride in the fact that, to date, we have provided value to more than 60 companies and assisted them in achieving their commercial objectives through sound design strategies. In a variety of domains, we have worked with brands in Australia, the UAE, Europe, and India. We are helping brands build and scale their products and have helped many companies to positively impact their ROI (return in investment) through strategic UX,” he said.

Collaboration

Zazzy recently collaborated with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar to launch a new website for the agricultural and water technology startups under AWaDH (Agriculture and Water Technology Development Hub). Jay said, “Zazzy’s contribution has helped to create an innovative platform for these startups to grow and attract investment. We have also worked with Mapro to develop a creative direction for their many brands and products, including the popular Falero candy. Additionally, Tyke, another startup that Zazzy has worked with, has made it possible for ordinary people to invest in startups with as little as 5,000.”

“We have accomplished all of this without a dedicated sales or marketing team until recently. We have relied mostly on referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations. But now we are expanding our sales and marketing efforts to achieve greater success,” he said.

Profitability

“Zazzy has been a profitable company since the first month,” said Jay.

“Zazzy has worked with over 75 brands in just 2.5 years. As we look to scale our business, we are focusing on several growth levers that we believe will drive profitability. One key area of focus is expanding our customer base through targeted marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships. Additionally, we are optimising our unit economics to ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible. This includes evaluating our pricing strategy, streamlining operations, and implementing cost-saving measures,” Jay said.

“We track customer engagement, website traffic, conversion rates, and revenue growth, and utilise a variety of top-tier tools to track and analyse these metrics, such as Google Analytics, social media analytics, and customer surveys to make informed decisions and adjustments to our strategy to ensure that we consistently meet our goals and provide value to customers,” he said.

Explaining the importance of providing personalised attention to client, Jay said, “We assign a dedicated account manager to work closely with clients on every project. We focus on the needs and preferences of the individual customer and tailor the services to meet the specific needs by using data analytics and customer feedback. This results in higher satisfaction rates and stronger customer loyalty. Various agency listing platforms have rated us above 4.8 stars based on direct and verified reviews.

“We mostly acquire customers as inbound leads through our website and referrals from past clients. Hence, we do not have a specific customer acquisition cost. Our repeat customer rate currently stands at 42 per cent. It is a testament to the quality of our work and the satisfaction of clients,” claims Jay.

“In the earlier days of Zazzy, the conversion rate was 95 per cent plus due to all inbound and referrals. We recently started outbound by implementing sales division and current conversion rate is around 19 per cent through outbound strategies. Our current burn rate varies between 20 lakh and 24 lakh per month, including direct and indirect expenses. To ensure financial stability, we focus on cost consciousness and rely on creative methods to incur minimal cost,” Jay said.

Moat

Jay said, “We are in a market of cut-throat competition and usually try to mitigate them by delivering constant value to clients. Our method of presenting the proposal, combined with our design experience and ideas, is what makes us stand apart from our competitors. The services we offer are always in line with the ongoing trend and the combination of best platforms and software which will provide ease to the client.”

Commenting on data privacy, Jay said, “To ensure data privacy, we have strict non-disclosure agreement (NDAs) and contract agreements for our employees and clients.”

Plans

Sharing his future moves, Jay said, “We are a bootstrap, independent agency, and have a healthy runway of next six months. Our plan is to grow Zazzy to such a level that it becomes a standard in the field of design and branding. We have not devised an exit strategy as we do not intend to leave this field. The standard of design we will create for clients will be the way to monetise our brand and company. We are in the process to disburse ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) to employees which will entitle them to a profit sharing of the organisation. We see ourselves in top Indian agency list in the next five years with a global workforce presence across a globe with 500 people-strong team. We see us in among top global agency list in next 10 years.”

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