Adarsh Ramakrishnan – Creating a Team and Envisioning a Future on Their Own Terms

adarsh

As a third-year, Adarsh Ramakrishnan (MAE ’12) and his friends decided to get a head start on their careers. While courses in product development awaited as part of the fourth-year curriculum, the group was not inclined to wait to gain real-world experience.

Together with Mike Michon (MAE ’12), Kevin Ruth (MAE ’12) and Hyatt Gumble (MAE ’12), Ramakrishnan started Elegant Solutions Design. The company would provide them with a chance to practice engineering consulting and product development skills in a true consulting environment.

“What began as a summer project almost immediately grew into something bigger,” Ramakrishnan said. “We worked on a total of five projects, taking a client’s idea, the constraints, objectives and hand-drawn sketches, and translating these into a product design.”

Their assignments included designs for a cup holder, an automotive muffler device and a project that involved airplane landing gear. They were also tasked with visualizing product design and translating electrical drawings.

By the end of the summer, the friends realized there was the potential for Elegant Solutions Design to become an ongoing concern. They enjoyed successful client engagements and working with each other. The next step was incorporation, and the team leaned on professors and legal counsel to navigate the process.

“All four of us discovered that working for ourselves, and as a team, was something we were really interested in,” Ramakrishnan said. “This wasn’t something we had identified in the past, but we all said, ‘Wow, this is really what we want to do’; we just didn’t know it was called entrepreneurship.”

With graduation looming, the future of Elegant Solutions Design is at a crossroads. While all four partners are interested in running the company full-time, they realize the challenge of deriving enough revenue from consulting to make it possible. They also understand the contextual nuances of a partnership-driven enterprise, specifically the need to balance salaries versus investing in the business for the long-term.

For the present, Ramakrishnan and his friends are applying for jobs, planning to continue their entrepreneurial work on the side. Although they’re taking a conservative approach, their hope is nothing short of making Elegant Solutions Design a viable and successful business within the next several years. “We’re all passionate about engineering,” Ramakrishnan said.

“We’re all passionate about creating, and this is probably the freest way we can be creative and innovative. And with Elegant Solutions, we’re doing it with a clear goal in mind. This is no longer just about sketching in our notebooks.”

This article originally appeared in UVa Engineering Unbound.