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Concept developed for dissertation project now a thriving business for design alumnus

Anil Puri

Brunel provided a life-changing opportunity to me during my placement year as I was able to study abroad at San Francisco State University. This was a huge character-building experience for me and really helped to shape my personal design process.

Anil, Alumni, Undergraduate

Founder and Director, Pet Instincts Ltd

Product Design Engineering BSc MDes - 2018

From UK

Previous Institution

The Douay Martyrs School - A-Levels

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

Funnily enough, my first job after graduating in 2018 was a UX research design role as part of a collaboration between Brunel and Heathrow Airport. But I always wanted to pursue the concept I developed for my dissertation project, as I believed that it would be able to benefit the lives of pets and their owners. Towards the end of my time at Heathrow, I took a ‘punt’ and founded my business Pet Instincts and was soon after accepted onto the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) start-up accelerator programme. I went from strength to strength and the business has been growing since.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Being a sole founder of a start-up, I manage every aspect of the business ranging from product design, to law, to finance and accounting. It’s the full spectrum of tasks, and given the wide range, no day is ever the same which keeps the experience exciting and fresh. Though coming from a creative background I’ve found that the core principles in our design process can be applied to solve problems in other professional fields by using the approach of discovery, ideation / brainstorming, development / refinements, proposition / delivery.

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

Despite having great experiences at Heathrow and as a Design Consultant in London and San Francisco, the highlight definitely has to be creating Pet Instincts. It’s been such a personally rewarding journey so far in which my skill set has vastly expanded, my network has grown to the point that we have the backing of industry experts, and we’ve won numerous awards and accolades. It’s been a huge confidence boost to take such a risk in my early career by ‘venturing into the dark’ and achieving so much along the way. One of the memorable highlights was successfully raising our first round of investments and reflecting on just how far we’ve come from what started as a university project.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

When I started my degree, my ‘designer’s toolkit’ of skills / software’s was very limited, and through the very diverse Product Design Engineering course, I was able to learn and experience different aspects of this industry ranging from conceptual design, 3D modelling and mechanical analysis; all of which have become ‘tools’ that I use on a daily basis. Brunel also provided a life-changing opportunity to me during my placement year as I was able to study abroad at San Francisco State University. This was overall a huge character-building experience for me and I found that the different perspectives and approaches to design that were taught to me while studying at two different universities gave me a unique insight and really helped to shape my personal design process.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I’m a Hillingdon local so I’ve always been aware of Brunel, and in fact, my sister studied Business at the University a few years before I started my degree. When it came to the time of choosing a University, my A-Level DT teachers recommended Brunel to me as an option as some of them were alumni. After visiting the campus, touring the facilities and meeting some of the lecturers I was impressed and Brunel immediately became my first option to study at. Being so close to London is always a plus as so much of the industry is based locally as the numerous design museums and events that are local to the area. The Design School at Brunel have great links to industry experts and amazing companies so there are so many opportunities available to develop your early career here.

What is your best memory of studying here?

Funnily enough, some of my best memories are centred around the chaos in the build-up to exams or deadlines. One-too-many all-nighters bring out the funniest sides in us all and almost becomes achievements in themselves to pull off such unbelievable feats. The overall reflection of seeing my abilities develop in my second year transitioning into final year was amazing, as I was applying all the knowledge learnt and was finally able to take ideas from my head and make them into real-life products and prototypes - which was what I originally came to university for.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

Make the most out of your university degree, you have unique access to industry experts in your lecturers and amazing career advisors - all of whom can help support your early career development if you tap into all of the potential available. Making the most of it also means getting out of your comfort zone and trying out new experiences (like climbing or dancing) and meeting new people. It can be the most exciting, educational, and social experience if you let it be. But also remember to take some time to unwind and try not to get caught up in all the stress because, spoiler alert, there’s always going to be another deadline.

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

Don’t buy into the pressure that your graduate job is what sets up your career direction - there’s some truth to that but it’s more like the first chapter in your journey. Apply for anything in and out of the field that you’re studying. Your early career is the time to explore everything that interests you to see what you like and don’t like. Take internships or short contracts, it all adds up on the experience bar which sharpens up your CV in the process. Don’t be afraid to take risks, just take it all as a learning experience and you’ll always prosper.