We aren't looking for the elixir of perpetual youth. Like the real practice of Alchemy, we're interested in the process of changing everyday material (ideas) in to gold (real products & services).

But before we let you know what Alchemy is and what it can do for you, we want you to know what our story is.

Who are we?

Like the name suggest we do things a little differently. We are a product/service design agency that guides executives/entrepreneurs to build experiences that matter to their untapped customers using Design Thinking.

We started up on the 25th of May 2019, but we've been working on products and services in the spaces of marketing, product development and engineering for more than 5 years.

Working in these spaces exposed us to some frustrations in how we fundamentally work.

A lot of projects that we worked on never saw the light of day because:

  • Cross functional teams find it hard to align on common business objectives
  • Teams often work towards unclear goals as project scope changes repeatedly
  • Teams lack real data on which to base business decisions on, instead they rely on endless internal discussions
  • Teams are being pressured to be 'innovative' but don't know how to start
  • Product development cycles run for too long, causing teams to lose enthusiasm and focus

The thinkers & doers behind Very Bad Wizards

Mayun Kaluthantri (Product Designer & Strategist)

Mayun started his career in marketing and then moved to doing more business design & strategy work. His work was a lot to do with the thinking side of a business. What Mayun noticed was that no matter how well thought out a plan was it always came crumbling down when it was time to execute.

Shavin Peiries (Product Designer & Engineer. Also the person writing this post.)

I started off as a Frontend Engineer. The work that I was doing mainly consisted of the execution (doing) side of the business.

During my time engineering, I was constantly questioning why the teams I worked with couldn't execute products that people adored, like Airbnb or even Uber.

This lead me to believe that the people deciding or thinking about the work to be done were operating from a place of guessing, as opposed to relying on any sort of data based off the people that it was being built for.

Whether it was in the thinking side of a business or the doing side, a lot of projects failed due to the previously stated reasons that we were constantly experiencing.

What Mayun started noticing was that in Western Markets they were facing similar problems too. Some of them changed their approach to a simpler model, where the thinking and the doing met.

How we guide companies

The fundamental process of doing work looks something like this:

But that usually ends up being like this for those previously stated reasons:

Those who were smart about it, realized that we could actually do this to overcome all those problems:

This process is of going from having an idea, skipping the building and launch and going straight to the learning is called a Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint at Very Bad Wizards is a process that uses Design Thinking techniques to come up with ideas, prototype and test them in just 4 days. And that's our promise.

While the process solves a lot of previously stated problems with teams - there's an immeasurable amount of benefits that come with running a Sprint apart from these ones:

In the short term:

  1. You can reduce your costs & risks
  2. You can accelerate 4 months of work in 4 days
  3. You can align your team on what needs to be done, so that they can gain huge amounts of momentum when they're getting started

In the long run...

  1. You have a faster path to market
  2. You have tangible outcomes
  3. You have more motivated teams to get the job done

Since our inception we've helped industry leaders, challenger brands and startups shift their way of working.

And you can hear it from their executive leadership:

You can also read about what their teams are saying:

So, what's Alchemy then?

Alchemy is our blog. It's a space where we express thoughts, insights & raw ideas. Gained from working in multiple industries with clients and from our contrarian approach to building a calm and predictable business. Using design and technology as tools.

By calm & predictable we mean to not run around in circles but to launch work that matters in every layer of a business.

What you can expect from Alchemy

Breakdowns of our process to help you get from 0 to 1000 customers in a calm & deliberate manner:

As we are building and scaling Very Bad Wizards, the same fundamental principles that we practice and teach are going to be available to you through Alchemy.

All the tools and business know-how we've used have allowed us to thrive without having to take any money from anyone except from the customers we serve.

All in less than 1.5 years of starting up.

How we approach problem solving

Design Squiggle by Damien Newman

Whether it's the Design Sprint process, or the other tools/frameworks we used will become available through Alchemy.

This includes (but not limited to):

  • How we use Jobs to be done theory to frame demand.
  • Building rapid prototypes in 1 day for testing
  • How we use the Shape Up Methodology & Basecamp to shape our work and teams
  • Using design for problem solving as opposed to making things look pretty

Updates from our journey and what’s been working (and not working) for us

Very Bad Wizards is purely bootstrapped. We've done this intentionally to focus on what's important: Adding value to our customers.

For new products or services it's the same thing. So, you'll get a sneak peak behind our strategies and execution plans to be inspired by or to adopt into your own organization.

Stories of success from our clients

On top of building great products & services, we've enabled our clients to generate other outcomes outside of our engagement with them. Here's a few examples:

Healthnet - one of our clients used the principles of the Sprint to overcome other business challenges
Another client used the outcomes of the Sprint to get investor interest before they even launched. They also used the tools we use in the Sprint for a more effective workflow.

We'll be sharing some of their biggest success stories and their learnings from adopting the Sprint to the way they work.

Resources and book breakdowns

Reading is dangerous. The wisdom that they have can really impact how you approach working.

We'll be distilling down our thoughts on the books we use to help shape great products and services for our clients, so you can use those insights as well.

In addition to books, we use some really great resources like Basecamp and Miro to collaborate. We'll show you how we use it internally.

Alchemy belongs to the Thinker and the Doer

There's an old latin quote that you might have heard of.

"Pigmaei gigantum humeris impositi plusquam ipsi gigantes vident."

It translates to “If I have seen further, it’s by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

This quote always reminds us of something incredibly important. Everything we've learned, it’s from someone else having done it first. We would be nothing were it not for the generations of incredible men and women before us.

Alchemy is our own contribution to the thinker & the doer. To allow them to see and use the levers that allow us to prosper as a society.

To them we offer our shoulders to stand on.

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You'll get a little note on what we are contemplating in the product/service world and all the latests posts once every tuesday.