Tarun Kalia

Co-Founder of Outdesign Co

Tarun is a product designer, mechanical engineer and co-founder of Outdesign Co, a product development company based in India with clients across 15+ countries. Tarun has been awarded by NASA’s Center of Excellence and Collaborative Innovation twice and has worked on several “World-Firsts” and award winning products that have garnered a lot of media attention. Through Outdesign, he helps startups, inventors & SMEs around the world turn their product ideas into reality.

Where did the idea for Outdesign come from?

I have a keen interest in design, engineering and manufacturing. So the idea of working with new innovative startups on a variety of different products was quite alluring to me. This is why I started Outdesign.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day starts with a morning run outdoors and some strength training. Exercise is something I find to be very useful in making my day productive. Around 8-9 AM I start by checking emails, latest news and plan the work to be done during the day. Some days involve collaborating with clients, suppliers and our partners, while others involve more of a hands-on prototype development or engineering work.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We help startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs bring their new product ideas to life. For that we follow a structured approach to de-risk the process of new product development. For new ideas, we start off by developing a POC (Proof of Concept) Prototype. This is to ensure that the idea is technically feasible and identify problems before we go into further development.

In product development, the earlier you are able to identify mistakes and areas of improvement, the lower it costs to make those improvements. For example, a POC is relatively low cost to develop and changes are easy to make, whereas if you identify a problem after 50k units of a product have been manufactured, or worse after they have been shipped to customers, that will cost a lot to rectify. So it is important to move in small steps and create prototypes at every stage to test, validate and iterate.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to some key trends that will shape the future, one of those trends is of remote work. It will be interesting to see how that turns out when people no longer have to come to already congested cities and can work from their hometowns or any place they like. With no daily office commute, vehicular emissions will be reduced dramatically and a lot of time will also be saved. Many people spend as much as 2-3hrs everyday in the daily commute.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I think that my habit of exercising regularly has greatly benefitted me, in not just being productive and creative but for my overall well being.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To learn more about the business side of things. Being an engineer and designer, I have been too focused only on the technical aspects, but to create a successful business it is important to have a good understanding of a lot more than engineering. It would have been good to devote more time to those areas.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Anything that shows their favorite politician in a bad light, nobody agrees with it, haha.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Constantly learning and updating yourself. As an entrepreneur, you have to be constantly updating your knowledge about the industry, the market, your expertise, understanding what motivates your customers etc. With how rapidly things are changing everyday, it is important to keep yourself updated.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Delegating more work to others, especially the work I don’t like doing. I have seen this with many creative types like myself that we have trouble delegating work to others because we think that the other person will not be able to meet our standards. That’s something I still struggle with but I’m improving!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have not had one failure but many “micro-failures” especially handling the business side of things. I was doing many things wrong in the marketing and sales processes and I overcame them by improving my understanding of those areas.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As more and more people start to work remotely, there will be new opportunities for products and services that enhance the whole work-from-home experience. It could be gadgets that improve people’s work efficiency, better collaboration tools, technology that creates the “virtual water cooler” or products & services that improve people’s physical and mental well-being given the challenges of working from home.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Definitely running shoes!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Sticky notes is a simple but useful app for me. I write my things-to-do on different notes, with what needs to be done that day or week. It always stays infront of me and helps me stay on top of things.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a good read in understanding how to quickly test and validate your ideas without spending a lot of resources.

What is your favorite quote?

“The harder I work the luckier I get” by Samuel Goldwyn

Key Learnings:

• Exercise regularly to keep yourself productive
• The earlier you identify mistakes in new product development, the less costly they are to fix
• Prototyping is an essential part of new product development
• Keep learning and keep yourself updated