What is Kazi Studios Doing Right?

Its been only three years since Kazi Studios entry into the Nepali market and they are already coming across as serious competitors in the design sector. With a clear focus on design and a cool office, for effect Kazi is in the news for all the right reasons.

After seven odd years of working in the US in the advertisement and design sector respectively, Manish Shrestha and Kreeti Shakya returned to Nepal because they wanted to set up their own design firm. This was the birth of Kazi Studios. Poojan Shrestha who had a good understanding of the local market, especially the technical landscape, joined them. In a market where a plethora of creative agencies clamor for a limited clientele, they seem to be putting together quite an impressive portfolio and even diversifying into a variety of design and technical projects. Before even hearing about their work I had heard about their creative and bright office space with a table-tennis table taking center stage. They seem to be playing by a different set of rules when it comes to work and it looks like it’s working for them. I tried to find out what Kazi Studios is doing right.

It’s only been three years that you’ve come into the Nepali design landscape and already your website boasts of big clients. What brought you this far this fast?

Manish: I can’t point to a particular thing as the key to success, but one thing that’s core to our work is we make sure our designs are valued. When we returned from the States and interacted with companies here, we found out that design was looked at as secondary – a lot of designers were earning from the printing charge through a markup, while the design was charged for minimally. We felt like there wasn’t really a company with a focus on just design, and that’s exactly what we wanted to be. We made it clear right at the beginning to our clients we just design and you can use your own printers if you like; what we charge for is our design.

What is the most effective part of your work model?

Kreeti: I’d say the openness. The sprawling space lets the creative energy flow, and helps practically as well when working under pressure, everyone is a shout away and it’s easier to synergize ideas that way since everyone is accessible.

Manish: I’d say openness also in terms of the environment. The work environment is friendly with no imposed hierarchies and titles. We try and make every one as enterprising, and we encourage everyone’s ideas. We don’t have a clock-in-and-out type of work policy. The employees have work set out for them that they need to be responsible for and have it done on time. That’s the only thing we emphasize on; how many hours they put in isn’t important. And as a reminder of this policy we have the ping-pong table right in the middle of the office space so people can take time off if that’s what they need to get their creative juices flowing.

Is there a gap you see in the market that you’re exploring?

Poojan: We are focusing on the cross-section of design and technology. I became part of Kazi Studio for this very reason. Kreeti’s skills with design really impressed me and we thought that we could put together our strengths to fuse design with technology. We are exploring mobile apps, interactive casino games, and websites among others, and for all of that design and technology need to come together.

So who keeps tabs on the trends to cash in on? What keeps the ideas flowing?

Kreeti: Each of us suggests ideas and explores trends from our own fields. And no one is left out of the brainstorming sessions. The entire company comes together for brainstorming because everyone has a different perspective to add to an idea and that way many more possibilities are discovered.

Manish: We are constantly coming up with crazy ideas, some of which we actually go on to implement. Like Kreeti came up with a project involving children’s toys, and we thought it was a great idea and we begun brainstorming about the technology that we can mix with that. And Poojan suggested a cool mobile app for the local market so Kreeti gave her design inputs. We’re always brainstorming to see what’s missing in the market and what we can come up with.

One rule that you play by that makes everyone efficient?

Manish: We charge by the hour – that makes it clear to the clients that it is the design that the effort is going into and that’s what we charge for. Also it keeps us efficient as we can estimate the time it takes on projects and deliver on time while determining how much workload we can handle.

Is the field of design getting more progressive? And what elements do you see bringing this progressive change?

Kreeti: It is definitely getting more progressive. The smaller businesses are spurring the design landscape because a lot of entrepreneurs starting out today are young, energetic people who are happy to experiment and try out new ideas.

Advice to other design entrepreneurs:

Kreeti: Please don’t sell yourself low because design carries a lot of importance; much more than the production material. So don’t be afraid to charge for your work.

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