When Creativity Leads To Design And Market-Awareness

Creator, innovator, startup founder, and now a self-published poet. Meet Poorna Chandra Danamaraju, student of the inaugural post-graduate course in Product Design and Management

Boredom and frustration are two of the biggest drivers of innovation. Ask Poorna Chandra Danamaraju, who’s currently pursuing the Product Design and Management course at IIITH. It was while preparing for the Civil Services after graduating as a Mechanical Engineer that he took to writing. “I needed a medium to vent my thoughts,” he says, explaining how he sought poetry as a coping mechanism. In order to record his musings, he tried out various note-taking apps and discovered many issues with them. “These bad user experiences inspired me to create something on my own. I enrolled in online courses to learn UI and UX design and that’s how I ended up designing my app,” he says. The design coupled with a close buddy’s programming skills resulted in an Android app that is currently available on the Google Play store.

For Market-Aware Technologists
With this new-found fascination for design and product management, Poorna Chandra actively began looking for academic courses to gain a formal degree in these areas but couldn’t find a match. It was serendipitous that the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad announced a one-of-its-kind MTech degree program in Product Design and Management. It’s novelty lies in the fact that it is a blend of both software engineering, as we know it, and the complex process of conceptualising a product. The course is relevant for fresh graduates or early career IT professionals, mid-level techies and those with start-up visions. By virtue of fitting the latter criteria, Poorna Chandra was shortlisted and eventually selected for the program.

Real-Life Relevance
While personal experiences and pain points faced by Poorna Chandra led him to create innovative features for his note-taking app such as making it available in different Indian languages, the concept of add-ons based on user preferences, unlimited usage on multiple devices and so on, the course program too is practical-oriented enabling students to constantly think creatively and out-of-the-box. “Subjects such as User Research Methods and Design Thinking are very relevant to us. We work on real life case studies, participate in classroom discussions and are constantly evaluated based on this which was not the case while pursuing undergraduate studies.” With other budding tech entrepreneurs sharing similar interests, the peer interactions have been very inspiring and enriching for Poorna Chandra.

Balm For The Soul
And what of all the writing that prompted the innovation in the first place? Along with the penning down of thoughts whilst in the writing phase, Poorna Chandra simultaneously took to reading works of other greats such as those of the Bard and Edgar Allan Poe. “I also read works of poets in Hindi and Urdu,” he says, adding that he picked up the techniques of poetry writing such as metre for verses and so on, online. While some poems are random thoughts, the underlying theme across his poetry is about spirituality. This is not surprising considering that he has been a practitioner of Heartfulness meditation for the last couple of years. “My poems are about love, human life, the fact that it’s a short phase and how we have to make the best use of it.” The collection is available now on Amazon titled “Earthly Realm: Memoirs in Sonnets and Verses”. For someone who loves learning and exploring poetry in different languages, Poorna is currently onto Hebrew and Russian. “It’s helping me connect to others in their own native languages because not everyone is well-versed in English.” Poorna Chandra’s personal experiences have definitely helped in getting a pulse on his own product. It was selected for a pre-incubation program by i2E labs in collaboration with Telangana State Innovation Centre at the Thub. With the formal academic degree in the mix, his exposure to the technology product space will be complete. Recalling the time when he was toying with various possibilities for his future, Poorna Chandra signs off with his favourite quote from Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”