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Design at C4E

Design at C4E

Each thing we see around us is impacted by the design that we do. My sense is that in the near future, people who can design well will have a lot of impact in the way things run in the world around us. From building for those at the bottom of the pyramid to allowing the uber-rich to splurge their wealth on experiences, design will become central to how we live, work and play. Especially in the age of large data models, seas of sameness and global corporations that are standardising and templating things. 

In fact, at C4E, I often lament that I haven’t been able to inspire a design leader to help us do more. More than just the designs we do for our clients (where we do a great job), we still do not think with a design-first approach. And that I think would become a limiting factor for us as we prepare for our Mahabharata

This post is an attempt to find someone who’d want to help us navigate the design world. 

So, what is design for us? 

Well, design is design. 

From the way you arrange furniture in your house to the choice you make when you get your wardrobe to the font you use when you write emails to posters you make for an event to an emailer for a client to a pitch deck about your world-changing idea to doodles that no one ever makes sense of and to everything else – everything is design. It is all around us. It’s all-pervasive. To a point that you don’t even imagine its design. The way you open up a wrapper on a candy to a perforated page on a notepad to a stand of your iPad to a keychain you carry to a website you doom scroll through. Ok, there’s no end to this. 

Lemme try to talk shop.

In terms of what design means to C4E and what we do. 

1/ Graphic design – this means content, marketing, communication, websites, UI et al. We need this for our clients and for ourselves. I mean look at our website. It’s a WordPress template that we downloaded from the internet and got a student to hack together into a workable website. For all the cool things we do, is that what we wish to have on our website? 

For our clients, I would rate our design chops at 6 on 10. And it sucks. We have been able to survive and do well only because we are 11 on 10 on reliability and we find ourselves standing two steps behind each time a client has needed someone to be reliable. 

At some point, I want to push our design capability to 11 on 10. I know it’s a long, tough road but I am willing to make the effort to walk on it. 

2/ Product design – we don’t do this at this time but we do have the ambition of building things that, well, make a ding in the universe. And we know that we can’t build anything without knowing design. So that. 

3/ Thinking with design-first thoughts – no, not the “design thinking” buzzword that everyone throws around like we sprinkle salt and pepper around us. But in the sense that we need to start with design first. This may or may not entail design thinking but it would mean that before we think of a solution to a problem, we would think of design first and then others. Design first means that we may think of a solution as a poster, as a film, as an insight, as whatever makes the end user, the customer a delightful path to the solution.

So that. 

So, who do we seek?

A design leader.
 design partner.
A design doer.
A design everything. I know I am asking for a lot but that is what we need at this time. 

You would come in and fix our house. This means you would be the voice of design at C4E and at all our clients. You would get more designers onboard. You would teach all of us about good design. You would help us grow an eye for design. 

You would be a partner in the business (and this is new to us – we have never got a partner directly but desperate times call for desperate measures). You would have a seat at the table. You would affect the direction that C4E moves into. You would help us make the C4E village larger, stronger, and richer. 

You would have strong opinions loosely held. Each person at C4E is encouraged to question everything. And no one is spared. You will face more questions than you can imagine and you will have to be patient and open-minded to have that conversation. 

My sense is that this would be ideal for someone who’s been in the design space for 15-20 years now and is looking for their next adventure. This could also be for someone sharp who may not have the requisite years but believes they’d like to take a shot at something like this.

Of course, all of the above is my wish list. If this post, our vibes and the narrative look ok to you, let’s talk and see where we reach. Each thing that I have mentioned is negotiable. 

Oh, and there is one thing that’s non-negotiable – we need you to be a doer. We want someone who would roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and do things.

What do we not want?

Lemme also write what do we not want. 

We don’t want anyone who doesn’t hold our values dear. This is THE most important thing at C4E. 

While there is a long list of our values, if I were to summarise, I would say we want to treat EVERYone with respect, do good work, learn everyday, take it easy and attempt to leave the world in a better shape than when we arrived. We are and we generally like people who are very high on reliability, very high energy, very high on enthusiasm, exhibit very high agency, need little supervision and all of us almost always get things done. 

The keyword is generally like. 

Some of these are negotiable 🙂

Oh, to give you context, our current chieftain is 41. CEO-in-training is 22. Our Future is, well, still in college. 

We don’t want a consultant to give us gyaan. I can give as much gyaan as needed. So can the youngest member of the C4E Village. No I am not discounting your experience as a design leader – just that at our stage we may not be able to afford gyaan. 

We don’t want people who don’t want to do. We are a small company and truth be told, that is by, well, design. And at a small company, no job is “not my job”. You see something broken, you pick up the screwdriver and start screwing. You see some trash on the floor and you buy a mop. Even if you have to use your own money. You see our website as an uninspiring corner of the internet and you would take it upon yourself to make the corner boujee and hang up fairy lights and play some nice music. It better not be Taylor. We are ok with Punjabi. 

What can I offer? What do you get? 

I would ideally like you to come on board and build a business with the village at C4E. 

And I can give a combination of cash, equity and profits. I can chat on numbers but whatever I offer, will never be comparable to a VC-funded startup, a large agency or a large company. However, for the right person, we would find a way. Or we would make one. 

Also, it would depend a lot on your hunger and your ambition. Remember I am hoping to find a partner and not an employee. And this means you would have to sort of earn it for yourself. And for us. 

In the end 

We have to grow as a business and design has been our Achilles Heel. And now that I’ve decided to expand C4E, I will do whatever it takes to fix it. If this text excites you, come let’s prove to the world that people create magic. 

Interested? I am sg@c4e.in.

Over and out.

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