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Ishiyetaa Saxena: Founder-Beyond Design

Interviews
Ishiyetaa Saxena: Founder-Beyond Design

Breaking the norm and innovating experience design landscape

Down the years, women leaders have struggled with glass ceilings, unequal opportunities and whatnot. The world has, at every point reminds women leaders that their journey towards success is not as smooth as that of their male counterparts. In a nutshell, odds are against women in the workforce.

Tired of being marginalized and underrepresented, women are now taking the lead. As more women enter the workforce, steady progress has been observed. Today’s women leaders are more determined and passionate. They are boldly coming together to decide their future and shaping the decisions, that is not only bringing a positive change in their lives, but in their communities, their societies, and the world as well.

Ishiyetaa Saxena is a Service & UX Designer turned entrepreneur. She is the leading lady of Beyond Design – an experience design studio. There’s more to this; she is passionate about social impact, ethical design, human psychology and learning new things. Ishiyetaa symbolizes the tidal change of progress made by women leaders in the corporate world- defining their worth from within. Intrigued by her journey, we speak to Ishiyetaa about her traverse so far, the challenges she faced as a woman in business and any advice she has to offer to those wanting to follow her path.

Here are the edited excerpts

Describe your entrepreneurial venture, Beyond Design.

Beyond is an experience design studio specializing in UX, UI and Service Design. Our skills run deep, not wide. We convert game-changing ideas to usable interfaces and services. We work with big and small business to help them optimize their customer experience (across online and offline channels) and find opportunities to create social impact within their existing frameworks.

Our clients are companies (national and global) in the space of Artisan communities, Care
homes, EdTech, Healthcare, Health-tech, Legal tech, Parent communities, Smart homes and
more.

What was that intrinsic factor that made you realize that you wanted to do this (being an entrepreneur) for the rest of your life?

It didn’t start with wanting to be an entrepreneur; I found my purpose at the crossroads of social impact and service design. Beyond was born so that I could work the job of my dreams and it eventually led to building a team whose passion aligned with mine. Every team member at Beyond is driven by social impact. We stopped waiting to get “social impact-driven” projects and started finding possibilities of designing for social good in every project that came our way.

Can you give an example of what you mean by designing for social good in everything you do?

Sure! It’s a mindset. Hypothetical situation- imagine you’re designing for a company that organizes cycling marathons. On paper, you’re designing for a community event but you can use this opportunity to also design for the Safety of Women in public places and/or, find ways to ensure that women feel safe to cycle alone at night.

What’s next in the pipeline at Beyond?

Beyond is turning one year old this month and we’re looking forward to announcing an offering that has been extremely close to my heart for a long time now — Pro bono design services. At the end of every financial year, we will dedicate the equivalent of 5% of our profit amount to offering design services to social innovators or organizations that are not funded or backed by a profit-making company. Design services are very expensive to procure and this is our tiny effort at making them more accessible. We will chart out details in our newsletter and social media on 20th March.

How important it is to promote the term Women Entrepreneurship specifically?

It depends on the context you promote it in. Are you using it to motivate women to take a leap of faith and follow their dreams? – Sure, shout it out loud, repetitively. Are you using it as a buzzword to skillfully section women out and block access to an opportunity? Please do not use it.

Read our 20 Innovative Women Entrepreneurs In India Here

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a woman entrepreneur? What would you like to say to other women entrepreneurs?

I know that we have had to sit on tables that had no other women, juggle home with work and hustle when no one was watching, sometimes dress up to look older than our age to be taken seriously and even start the same sentence six times cause of being mansplained. This doesn’t happen every time but it happens enough number of times. But we didn’t stop, we’re here now, we’re making our place and we’re growing in numbers. When women support women, society grows as a whole.

Have you worked on projects that support women empowerment? Which one’s the closest to your heart?

Yes! I’ve worked on designing modules that optimize processes and set structures for women-led business in rural India. The aim was to promote financial independence. This has been one of the projects that have been the closest to my heart. We lived with women who had their own small businesses like tea stalls or pickle production, experienced their everyday life and co-designed a system that enables entrepreneurship to help them monetize their existing skillsets.

What has been your biggest challenge and subsequent learning from growing the company?

  • Things that you think you’re incapable of, are just things that you’re yet to learn. And the good news here is that you’re capable of learning things on the go – when you need to!
  • You have to adapt hard and fast. At Beyond, 2020 opened doors to the talent that might’ve not been onboarded due to geographical constraints and they’re some of our best hires now. Our portfolio in the space of social impact grew 3x faster than we had predicted.
  • Hiring people who unite, not divide. I was cognizant of the fact that the first ten hires will set the performance standards and culture at Beyond.

To every woman out there who aspires to be an entrepreneur this decade, what would be your advice to them, especially after this pandemic?

Bet on yourself, every waking moment of your life. You don’t have to start a company to exercise entrepreneurial skills. You can be entrepreneurial without being an entrepreneur. It’s a mindset. Start where you are. As Sophia Amuroso says, “Entrepreneurial people are passionate about what they do, comfortable taking risks and quick at moving on from failures.” Find your purpose, chase it hard and leave a trail that makes it easier for the next woman who wants to follow the same path.

Ishiyetaa spends her time designing experiences, growing the company, running and working remotely from time to time.

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