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[Awesome Startup Employee] Design on her mind - Shruti Gupta of Shifu

Tanvi Dubey
14th Mar 2015
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Shifu is a personal management tool with varied features that range from suggesting whom you might want to call at a particular moment to anticipating the battery usage in the next couple of hours so that you can be better equipped to deal with it. In the scheme of things Awesome Startup Employee, Shruti Gupta, who is a UI/UX and Visual designer at Shifu, has a crucial role to play.

Deepansh Jain, Co-founder of Shifu, who nominated Shruti, says, “Looking back after having run our startup for a year and half there are many things I would do differently but choosing the designer is not one of them. She is one of our early hires and has played a very important role in our journey so far. We are a startup in the consumer mobile app space and it is critically important for us to get design and UX right. We have trusted her with this and she is doing an excellent job.”

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Drawing as a child

Born and brought up in Moradabad, Shruti remembers drawing on everything starting from her mom’s recipe books to her school textbooks.

With her inclination towards biotechnology, she never considered design as a profession till her final year in school. That is when the realization that she wanted to pursue design as a career dawned.

She studied design at BIT Mesra and has worked in different sectors, from book publishers to event managers.

At Shifu

Deepesh says, “We don’t have a big team but we are a geek heavy team. Our thought process is dominated by data and logic, and sometime we lack the sensitivity and awareness of end user prespective and softer side of product design. Shruti being a designer fills that gap."

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For Shruti, Shifu happened by chance. Prashant Singh, the other Co-founder of Shifu, was looking for someone to design Shifu’s interface asked Shruti to not only to refer someone for the role but also to give it a shot herself. Shruti followed the advice and was accepted. This was her first stint at mobile application interface design. After working on the product for six months as a freelancer she finally decided to join the team full time.

Shruti’s role is to keep the design rolling for the application and the social media channels. She has to keep switching the gears -- if she is designing the interface for a new feature in the morning, in the afternoon she may be occupied with a social post and perhaps writing a functional spec in the evening. It is difficult but she loves that, “everyday brings with it a new milestone to achieve.”

When asked what she likes the most about her role, Shruti had this interesting response to share. “Creating things that previously did not exist gives you a rush like no other thing can. That God like feeling that you get when you set out to make a whole new universe in seven days is simply exhilarating. On the seventh day when you miss the target and you come up with the excuse that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is the thing I love the most about my role.”

Approach to design

To get the message across to the user in the best possible manner is what design means to me,

she says. Her approach to every design decision is driven with the following question: "What is it that we are trying to do for the user and what do we want him to take away?"

Once the goal is clear she explores ways for reaching the desired end and discounts the

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pros and cons of each option to arrive at the one best suited to her purpose. At this point the design is discussed with the team enabling a critical evaluation of the merits of the design to ensure that any suggestions that can further strengthen the design can be implemented before pushing the product to the user.Deepansh shares that Shruti’s approach to design is unique. “She works by first looking at the user data, seeing the patterns and then converting it into design. She has made some subtle tweaks in design over the various versions of Shifu which we could not have done otherwise.”

Team

The team at Shifu is small but close knit. Shruti demands a lot from her colleagues and at times is not an easy person to work with reveals Deepansh. Heated debates ensue on all aspects of work and Shruti strongly defends her choices and more than once she has overruled suggestions by founders. The latter in the long run have discovered that she was right.

Deepansh further adds, “Her attention to detail and commitment to deadlines is commendable. She has this ability to take a smilingly mundane task with little room for creative freedom and produce result which will be refreshing and delightful. For instance, when we asked her to design our business cards she came with this awesome design with the caricature of a person on the flip side. It gets noticed every time we hand out the card.”

Shruti has one message for her team: ‘Life is short. Let’s do this.

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