Jaythirth Ahya. Charming smile. Smart brain. An affable young man. He is the founder of The Experience Company – parent to The Road Trip Experience and The Beach House project. Both of which are companies that design experiences for you. But that seems a rather tame explanation for what these companies do. If you just read the last few posts in my Effortless Friendship series, it will give you a pretty good idea of just what these two companies do…
I met Jay at the Beach House Project in march last month at an idyllic week long residency in Fort Kochi. You can read about that trip here. Late nights over good music and even better conversation can get people to bond pretty fast. And that is exactly what happened. Jay is next in my series of Effortless Friendships. Read on to find out more about him.
What did you study in college?
I did enroll myself in college but from day one in the chemistry lab I somehow knew that this isn’t for me. I did not study anything in my engineering college and most of my education came from long drive with friends, hanging out at a small cafe near college and working on 3 ideas (a startup that was designed around bidding and fell slightly into gambling, a startup that enabled women to get online in 2011 and a design consultancy for which we started operations in a swanky office). I went to Symbiosis for my Graduation.
How did the jump to designing experiences happen?
I believe a few things in life are planned but most aren’t. My life has been laid with epiphanies and by the grace of the universe, I have never been afraid to chase them. I have found means to make things happen either naturally or by giving it my all.
While working on Womanor – the platform for Indian women, I came across the term UX for the first time and it fascinated me. A diagram I found online neatly said UX lies at the center of people centricbusiness design and technology. That was my moment – the wind blew, the temple bells clanked and my face lit up – I was always a jack of all trades and finally I found something that was a real profession designed for people who like doing more than one thing at a time.
I jumped straight into it. That was my first f2f with designing experiences – to create a platform my mom can use and get connected.
Right after college, Google launched a national initiative in India called HWGO.com / helpwomengetonline and it was time for me to learn more in life and revisit this idea later in life. I joined a Startup in Bangalore as an User Experience Design intern wrapped up my life in Pune and moved to Bangalore. This was my second f2f with UX Design. I was loving it.
During this time, I was super keen on finding ways to apply rules for online experience design to an offline world. It was so exciting for me to discover this world of crafting moments and spaces that would excite and inspire others.
I was still learning the frameworks of applying my skills offline and the first experiment I ever did was about creating a space where art would meet tech and hardware with the Bangalore Open Coffee Club. It was fantastic to brainstorm, draw service flows on whiteboards and chart out customer journeys. It was being geeky with design!
However, the real break came while designing the first Roadtrip Experience Project – an experiment to bring creators, doers & influencers from art, music, design, film, writing, photography and more on a journey to connect, collaborate and create. Everything that I had ever learnt went into that project and it was a success in its own way. That is when I knew – I am meant to be an Experience Designer.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Starting a business!!
What is your company called and why?
My company is called the Experience Company – its a straight forward name. Though we do diverse and experimental projects, design concepts, create branded content and strategies, own and create tribes of diverse thinkers (communities) – but at the kernel of everything lies Experience.
Its also because Experience has become the focus of today’s generation – there has been a shift from consuming things to living experiences – people prefer investing in experiences over buying things. The name of the company is relevant to today’s age, mindset and philosophy.
Over the next few years, we plan to launch a diverse range of experiences from Village Collaborations to Roadtrips for Impact. The Experience is going to be at the center of all these projects, hence the name.
Could you share a typical work day with us?
It’s a mix of catching up with really diverse people on the phone and in person, drawing excel sheets for curating residents & road trippers for the upcoming projects, jumping around in excitement when there is a new concept being rolled out or a new collaboration happens between members of the Tribe to stressful situations especially when hurdles come along with logistics of running things. Mostly its about whiteboards, brainstorms, visualizing experiences and making things happen.
What is your process/thinking/philosophy?
Create things that matches the values of today’s generation.
Bring people together that would never meet otherwise.
Do things that haven’t been done before.
Do good Karma and wait for it to come back, or just do good karma.
Make things happen, put in the work.
What is the next step you see for your business/Expansion Plans
The next step for The Experience Company is to roll out new concepts and make the tribe more diverse. Enable more collaborations and conversations between people who generally would never meet because they are not in the same circle of friends or profession but are magic creators, movement makers and doers.
We are looking forward to launch an impact project, a rural project and a project around Fashion along with scaling existing projects to newer locations.
Every location we work with, we make sure we unlock the entire creative ecosystem in that state, city or country. We have worked in 5 locations till now and are planning to create more experiences in 10+ locations by end of 2018.
Fav drink/ movie/book/go to place?
Long Island Ice Teas, Hot Chocolate, Old Monk
All the movies that inspire: August Rush, Before Sunrise, Social Network, Rainmaker, too Big to Fail
Books : Shantaram, Jeffrey Archer, Harry Potter