Product development requires a unique problem-solving approach, but for Sarath Kuruganty, the process has always been more about the people than the product itself. He has seen well-designed products fail because the designers failed to consider the end users doing the design process or didn’t successfully connect with the community when launch time arrived.
Entrepreneurs, product designers, and creatives of all types often get wrapped up in their own heads, thinking through new ideas, designing potential products, and making them come to life. But for those same leaders, Sarath challenges them to consider how much time they spend thinking about people. Who could they connect to someone in their network to advance a project or idea? What does a customer really want to see in a product? Have they been asked? Lacking the human component of design leads to boundless failures, but Sarath’s human-centric approach works every single time.
Before customer-facing applications were found outside of tech companies, Sarath led the team that was creating Walgreen’s mobile application. Pharmacies, and health-tech in general, must consider the needs of patients. How can they make finding the right medicine easier? When someone is sick, what positive impact can a curated experience have on that person? These were all questions that Sarath and his team labored over when designing the application.
Eventually, the mobile app was ready to come to life, and it was brought to both the Apple App Store and Androids. From the start, Walgreens’ application was a booming success, and Sarath credits the level of adoption to the fact that his team was using technology as a way to build community and community resources, not a shopping experience. For iOS alone, Walgreens has seen over 60 million installs and has an Apple App Store rating of 4.8 stars.
Throughout Sarath’s Master’s Degree education in Houston, he paid attention to the dynamics of his classmates, professors, and mentors, leaning on the relational aspect of his education to propel his future career. From there, entering Silicon Valley was another challenge in understanding people; he worked with some of the most brilliant minds of modern times, learning from Naval Ravikant, Gagan Biyani, and James Beshara. Building these social connections and understanding the people in this space opened up the startup scene for Sarath, kickstarting a new era of his career.
With a career full of product design successes, Sarath’s most prominent impacts haven’t been his products at all, but instead, revolved around people. He created a community at Product Hunt that recognized the commitment of “Makers” and connected brilliant minds together. This community directly impacted Product Hunt’s influence and impact by helping many startups get through funding rounds and find success.
Now, Sarath is the Head of Community at Threado, a community-building platform that helps businesses connect with, understand, and serve their customers more effectively. Threado serves as a platform for fast-growing companies to connect with external customers, making community-building easier across industries. Sarath learned how to build communities from scratch, but now, with Threado, he enables other leaders to build communities with a bit more support.
There are millions of great products on the market, but with the prominence of social media and online connection, the ability to build a community is what makes brands stand out. To empower more community-focused designers, Sarath spends much of his time mentoring young leaders, challenging his peers, and illustrating that a human-centric approach is actually the way for businesses to succeed.
Anyone can build great products, but without securing the people to use them, they have no value. As Sarath was formally training to design and develop products, his natural curiosity and drive for connection turned him into a community builder, which, as he continues to prove, is more valuable than even the best-designed products. In a time of quick consumerism, we must return to focusing on people. This return to humanity isn’t just for the good of people, it’s for the good of businesses, too.
This article was written in cooperation with Craig Lebrau