With over 18 years of global experience in the design and architecture industry where she has spent 15 of these in senior leadership roles, Tithi Tewari often encountered situations where communicating design intent to clients was strenuous. To address this gap, she along with her husband Gautam Tewari co-created Trezi, India’s first fully immersive Virtual Reality product for the building industry. Launched in 2018, Trezi connects architects with building product manufacturers and helps transform design communication, experience, and collaboration in the building industry.
Tithi also takes time out from her entrepreneurial commitments to support NGOs such as HCRA and World Vision India that focus on critical surgeries and rehabilitation for underprivileged children. She advocates the cause of equal pay and she is passionate about design and the amalgamation of traditional and modern architecture.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview where Tithi speaks about her journey with HelloPost Team:
1. Tell us something about yourself and your company.
I grew up in New Delhi and was a single child. I finished my schooling from Modern School, New Delhi. My inclination towards design started taking shape in the 8th grade when I realized that my approach to observing things was very design-oriented. Design has always given me immense pleasure, and I believe that good design gives me pure happiness. Design is very gratifying indeed. This pursuit led me to CEPT, Ahmedabad from where I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. Later, I continued my journey of learning with Harvard Business School Executive Education and INSEAD Executive Education.
About 20 years of experience in the architectural profession gave shape to the vision and need for Trezi. For architects and designers facing communication challenges, and for building product manufacturer brands seeking an efficient marketing platform to showcase their products, Trezi is the immersive bridge that connects them both. It facilitates real-time interactions with end-clients and positively impacts product discovery. It allows its users to explore, review, and modify their designs at full scale and colour. It is a breakthrough SAAS product that is transforming design communication in the building industry. Trezi allows users to step into the virtual world with co-designers and clients, and interact with the design in real-time, within an immersive environment and over desktop systems alike, quickly emerging as an essential addition to an architect’s toolkit.
With Trezi, we aim to strengthen the understanding and communication of design for all project stakeholders, directly resulting in fewer errors and omissions, reduced material wastage, and improved decision-making.
2. What made you start Trezi?
With about two decades of global experience in the architecture and design industry, I often encountered situations where communicating design intent to clients was strenuous. The traditional tools and mediums did little to build their overall understanding – spatially or volumetrically. Despite the extensive use of cost-intensive 3D renders and walkthroughs — considered cutting-edge presentation mediums at that time and even now — clients often had difficulty visualizing the end-product. Consequently, the gap between their expectations and the actual built space caused delays and miscommunication, often leading to time and cost overruns. Another pertinent issue was that of managing resources – both physical and human. The larger the project, the greater were the logistical challenges that arose; such as liaising with consultants, managing sites, prototyping materials, and modules, and collaborating with teams working offsite across ever-increasing distances.
These challenges motivated me and Gautam Tewari, co-creator of Trezi, to think of a solution that would facilitate seamless design collaboration, virtual co-location of teams, and remote working without a glitch. The idea then materialized in the form of our start-up SmartVizX in 2015, which was dedicated to using Virtual Reality to provide professional services and point solutions within the realm of design communication to architects, suppliers, and real estate developers.
3. As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
My motivation has always been to improve workflows and increase efficiency by creating something of value for investors, for the team and myself. Identifying the need for a product that allowed the users an efficient communication and collaboration with their teams, clients, and consultants; we then launched Trezi (derived from Transforming Design) in 2018 as India’s first fully immersive VR product for the building industry.
4. What has been your biggest achievement in this journey?
Being able to make a successful transition from a services mindset to a SaaS product-oriented thinking was very gratifying. It required unlearning and educating myself on how to live, breathe, and eat ‘product’ for the last two years. I regard this as my biggest achievement.
5. What are some of the biggest challenges that women who want to venture into the world of technology face today?
Through my journey, I have observed difficulties that women face within the tech industry – whether as skilled technicians trying to gain a foothold in upper management or as cross-domain entrepreneurs seeking to utilize technology for broader applications. The lack of women in the industry was much more glaring, during the nascent stage of the company. However, times have changed, and we are witnessing a considerable increase in the presence of women across all levels of tech enterprises.
6. Do you think technology is a male-dominated field?
To be honest I have never viewed it in this way at all. This field has had no dearth of successful female professionals. It’s a new, exciting and fast-evolving industry. I would say that the challenges would be the same for all. As long as one is focussed and committed, there is no challenge big enough — it does not matter what gender one belongs to.
However, as a woman, I believe, there certainly are additional responsibilities that get added on the personal front, and there, your support system helps you pull through. I am blessed with a great support system in life.
7. What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech?
Having women in the boardroom can help create more inclusive and engaging work environments– whether in tech or elsewhere. There is still a long way to go before we achieve gender parity. But, certainly, the change will only come when there is a concerted effort to open up opportunities, flexibility, and mentorship for a variety of roles and responsibilities for and by women. The building industry has traditionally been perceived to be challenging for female professionals, and this is a perception that has existed forever. To truly bring diversity at the workplace, we need more women-led start-ups and corporations, to effect top-down changes in tandem along with ground-level shifts in attitudes towards women pursuing STEM careers.
8. What are your future plans?
With the world changing around us rapidly, keeping an agile business is of paramount focus. We have two customer types – architects and designers, and building product manufacturers. We are developing customized feature sets for both in accordance with their workflows. As of today, over half of India’s top 50 architecture firms use Trezi. The new release focuses on the customer base of building product manufacturers by helping them establish Virtual Storefronts for products and prototypes which otherwise, would typically take days and weeks to transport and cost quite a lot in an attempt to procure sales. In the context of the post-COVID-19 world, where travel is restricted while the need for physical mock-ups and demos continues, building product manufacturers also struggle to optimize their sales and marketing efforts.
We are also working on our platform strategy which will make the entire offering more dynamic and diverse. With this underway, more third-party app developers can come in and create content on top of our SDKs, listing platforms and websites can get integrated, and we can also provide useful data and analytics to our customers.
On the business front, we intend to grow our sales overseas through distributors and channel partners in various geographies like MENA, US, and Southeast Asia.
9. Who is your role model?
I have always immensely admired my mother. She balances work, passion, hobbies, and home so effortlessly; and she is incredibly generous, selfless, and loving.
10. What would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Tithi Tewari: I have been a fond adherent of the Bhagavad Gita for a good part of my life, I firmly believe in:
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतु र्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्व कर्मणि॥
And that is my advice to anyone who seeks it– professionally or personally. I am sure most people know what it means.