Divami Design Labs: The Roller Coaster Ride

It was while working on their product idea that the founding team of Divami discovered their calling in the niche market space of UX & UI Design. Around 2008, the startup bubble was just appearing and new products and apps were being announced and launched into the market every other day. For any product’s success, User Experience and Design is a key ingredient – UX/UI was the need of the moment, but there were not many in the market to fulfill it. The team quickly realized there was a gap in the market that they could fill from the existing product team. And voila! Divami was born. They have come a long way since then – Divami now offers a comprehensive set of UX & Design services for both consumer centric and enterprise application providers. They have established market presence in US and India and have successfully executed projects numbering in the hundreds, also counting dozens of marquee companies in their customer roster.

So, what started off initially as a product startup has transitioned into a successful service organization providing the best in class UX and UI Designs. And ever since, their brand, passion and commitment to work has grown by leaps and bounds. “We have seen this success because of our willingness to go to any lengths to do the right thing for the customer. They recognize this fairly quickly when we start working with them and it is this factor that makes them respect us even when we disagree with them. They realize that we always have their best interests at heart.” asserts Naveen, Co-founder & CEO of Divami.

The Path

In the present day scenario, where design projects are short lived and even the largest projects lasting up to 6 months; building a long term relationship takes a lot more effort than just delivering well. And for this, Divami plays a myriad number of roles with the foremost being a trusted advisor to the client; sometimes as the voice of the user, and at times, as the devil’s advocate, to ensure changes are not made hastily to the product. Occasionally, they are also a  reviewer who continuously monitors the progress of the project throughout its development cycle and even after it is delivered to ensure the user experience is at its best. User behavior is also examined through usability testing or instrumented analytics to help identify problem areas and continuously advise the client on future plans.

Note what one of their steady clients has to say about working with them. “I met Prathima (Chief Designer & Executive Director) from Divami at a startup accelerator as part of their mentor startups program. We just completed the MVP of our SaaS platform and had a few demo clients using the platform. We developed the MVP UI/UX using standard templates and “an engineer’s UI/UX”. We needed some professional help at that time. Few minutes into our first meeting, I knew that the level of UI/UX expertise Prathima was showing was on par with some design firms I dealt with in the US” says Mr Ananth Reddy, Founder of Incentives Software and SavingNest.com brand.

How The Magic is Woven

Firstly, their emphasis on user research and analysis ensures that they truly understand the challenges that need to be solved and are able to empathise with the user during the design process. Ananth wholeheartedly agrees, “When we picked Divami to design our Logo and the UI/UX of our new brand, SavingNest.com,  Divami team was able to understand our business quickly and deliver a few alternative designs and guide us through the process in picking the right design. They understand the psyche of Indian e-commerce consumer to make proper designs and meet their needs”.

Secondly, Divami approaches each project as a team project driving up reliability and accountability. They bring the strength and diversity to the team through their individuals, ensuring leveraging of ideas from different backgrounds and industry segments. Mr. Raghu Bathina, Co-Founder & CEO of Celes Care chips in to assure that they are very systematic and it was indeed a team activity by Divami to fully understand and execute what he wanted to achieve. He further adds “The Divami team was committed to satisfy us throughout the project. Always open to our ideas and ensuring completeness.”

Finally it is their time-tested process and attention to detail that truly sets them apart from several others in the field. Prathima feels that the strength of the process ensures that individual designer bias is eliminated from the designs, and the result is truly a user-centric design. Mr. Chandra, Founder & CEO of Fluid Delta Solutions Inc., readily agrees. Apart from asking the right questions and ensuring the designs reflected their true needs, he feels that Divami’s “Standout feature was the process their team followed and the extensive documentation that they provided.”

So principally, Divami’s strong belief in “We are only as successful as our work is,” ensures customers come back repeatedly and only because their designs have made the clients and their products successful. It is such drive for perfection and quality that has become the hallmark of their work.

The People of Divami

“People with talent are tough to find, tougher to keep motivated and toughest to retain. Nothing can best describe the current challenges faced by an HR like me, better than that statement” quips Vidya, HR at Divami.

And Divami strongly believes in moulding young minds into a culture and work ethic that they value, so most of the employees over the last several years have been hired straight from colleges, mentored and trained into their current roles. A comprehensive training program, designed and managed in-house is carried out to ensure they are ready to take on the real world design problems and challenges. Owing to the untiring efforts of both the Design and Development Teams along with their respective mentors, they always manage to execute their projects successfully and to the customer’s satisfaction. Take note of what Mr Chandra is glad to say, “Their commitment was very high!. The people working on the project were very responsive, and attuned to the success of the larger project. An example of commitment was that their people went above and beyond the norm in meeting and working with me during a popular holiday weekend – because that was the only time I was going to be in town (from the US). Similarly, they also designed and provided me with a logo, which was not in the scope, because the team felt it was a critical element for look and appeal of the overall application as well as the overall branding of the application.”

So, whether it is persevering through the nth iteration of a design or arguing with a client until there is  a consensus about what is right for the product; it is this positive attitude amongst Divami’s team members that impresses their clients and makes them respect the company. “There isn’t a rigid hierarchy at our place. Everyone is an integral part of this company, which is why we have the whole team including the housekeeping staff on our website” says Vidya proudly.

Divami is now a bustling company with a vibrant workforce of almost 50, based in Hyderabad spearheaded by the enterprising duo:

Naveen Puttagunta, Co-Founder & CEO, has well over 20 years of experience in the software industry spanning User Experience, Databases, and Availability domains. Prior to founding Divami, he spent several years at Sybase (now an SAP subsidiary) and GoldenGate Software (now Oracle) with senior roles in Product Management and Development. He holds a business degree from the prestigious Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, along with a Masters degree in Computer Science from University of Houston  and a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani.

Between managing Divami and talking to and advising customers, Naveen enjoys reading – mostly science fiction, fantasy and business titles, and  these days,  middle school grade books, to help with his children’s schoolwork.

Prathima Inolu, Chief Designer & Executive Director – In a career spanning over 15 years, Prathima has held various positions in Software Development and Design. Starting with a short stint at Peoplesoft (now part of Oracle) as a QA Engineer, Prathima spent several years developing and managing software for Synopsys’s IT group. And for the last 7+ years she has been an integral part of Divami’s journey and is their guiding light in providing the vision and design direction for Divami.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Siddhartha Engineering College, and a Masters in Computer Science from California State University. She perfectly balances the beam of work-life as she juggles her time between Divami, dabbling with her Yamaha keyboard and caring for her 3 energetic boys (a tan German Shepherd named Simba being one of them).

The Road Taken

“If there is abundance of anything in life, it is the challenges” says Naveen with a smile, on the rocky path Divami had to tread in the earlier days. The company went through a major upheaval when it expanded beyond its original US market into the Indian market. However, given the dozens of successful projects they delivered across US and India, they seem to have figured out the right formula. The words of Mr. Chandra could be the validation that they have indeed found their footing – “Our first interaction was very professional. It also demonstrated that Divami had the competence – skills, people and processes – to do the job if they were to get it. I was really impressed with Naveen’s ability to ask the right questions and understand the job requirements.”

So, what about competition?  “I think the design companies compete more for good talent, rather than for projects directly”, Naveen says. “There is always pricing pressure when prospects try to compare established design firms and small outfits which have much greater pricing flexibility. We try to work with people and organizations that really need the stability, reliability, process & methodology that we alone can provide.”

On the whole, Divami’s project execution model, team strength, commitment to quality, unending desire for perfection, and above all the willingness to walk an extra mile to do the right thing for the project is what eventually wins the day for them.

The View Ahead

The world of Design is always evolving & highly volatile. Recent years have seen a lot of new concepts take the spotlight, thereby increasing awareness about UX & Design in every field. Divami believes that AR/VR, IoT and AI are the going buzzwords, especially from a design perspective, as they will effect a paradigm shift in the way the industry approaches interaction with technology. However, it is these shifts that provide significant opportunities for small-sized companies like Divami to go up against industry giants, be ahead of them and establish themselves as recognized leaders early in the cycle. Divami, for instance, is actively pursuing a few of these technologies, investing their R&D resources to create opportunities in new spaces.

So as a last note; what had always kept them together earlier and is making them stronger?  “Mutual trust and respect amongst the team is what makes us stronger and allows us to ride out the tough times. No project is devoid of crunch times, and for us, every project is a team project. Our absolute trust and reliance on one another is what sees us through these times and drives us towards that proverbial light at the end” asserts a confident Prathima.

For after all, what is life if it isn’t a roller coaster ride….

Source :- The 10 Most Innovative UX/UI Designing Companies