My friends and family members often approached me to make artwork for them, a pattern that most people in my circle who come from an art background experienced. On special occasions, gifting portraits was something everyone loves to do because it offers a certain customization level. Personalized gifts and paintings are not specific to gifting; they can also be something you put up in your bedroom and be proud of. However, painting is a skill that takes multiple years to master, let alone paint a portrait, and get consistent results every time.
The idea of coloring books used for kids was a simple yet effective solution to this problem. We just had to have a system in place to enable adults to do this. This concept was already existing in the market with people across the world, selling various pre-made kits. We wanted to maintain the customizability aspect of it and, at the same time, offer a product that generates consistent results without much skills required on the users' end. The idea got me hooked, but then the big question arose: what should I do now? And how can I, as a designer, plan the launch of an entire product that will be commercially viable and satisfy the needs of the consumer.
I used the K-mean Clustering Algorithm to gather clusters of images and make vectored objects from them. Now customers send us a photo, and the program processes that and outputs the necessary printable file to be included in the kit.
As a product designer, this was a role I played the entire time. The main question I tried to answer with this was, Why would someone buy our product?
My co-founder and I spent much time figuring out and narrowing down the problem we were trying to solve with our product. This would serve as a guide for our product journey, validate our idea, and at the same time help us plan out or promotion strategy.
Although many applications like photoshop and Illustrator help us achieve an outlined document, the entire process would be too repetitive and time-consuming. We also would have to hire someone to do it for us full time. This is where I decided to develop a program that does the same for us. I started studying algorithms to convert images into vector clusters and landed up with the K-Mean Clustering Algorithm. With a few code lines, I could input the photo and have the algorithm cluster the colors from the images into a predefined number of colors and create an outlined result.
The process involved cold calling multiple manufacturers and frequent visits to the local markets in search of supplies for the product. Working with limited resources, we could not afford to pile up a large inventory. At the same time, we wanted suppliers who could lend us samples and offer us limited quantities at affordable prices to keep the product profitable. We ran through testing the products and tweaking our code to get better results. When we exhausted this process, only then were we ready to move towards testing our products with other users.
With our products sent out to a small batch of customers, we gained some valuable feedback about how we could tone down the opacity of the outlines and at the same time make the outlined patches bigger and make it easier to paint. We also received feedback about the outlines themselves being very detailed and challenging to fill in, accurately.
Refactoring the code, I incorporated the feedback of our initial customers. These changes, although subtle, made a world of difference to our customers. We even managed to squeeze in better quality components and enhanced their experience with the kit. Adding attractive packaging and hidden surprises to the kit, we managed to move from a product that customers needed to something people wanted.
Having a good product wasn't enough. Surviving in a price-conscious market like India requires you to have a competitive price. Partnering up with local manufacturers allowed us to interact with them, and we managed to buy limited quantities while keeping the costs low. Thus we managed to create a supply chain that suited our needs well and at the same time didn't require us to invest a hefty sum for inventory. We could now afford to offer the highest quality customizable products at prices almost half of our competitors'.
Any successful product requires a good marketing strategy. We decided to sell products using an Instagram Store to avoid allocating resources into developing a website.
Branding the product well and having a well-defined pre-marketing strategy helped us generate awareness about the product and helped drive more sales upon launch
With our pre-orders rising, we had to build a supply chain that would deliver these products to our customers on time. We partnered with a delivery service that would offer us fast shipping speeds and affordable pricing.
Each Package contains :