Ketan Doiphode

About me

With a mind that runs on logic and creativity, Doiphode is the most inimitable problem solver you will ever meet. He brings his 18 years of experience in architecture and project management to innovate at Deazly. With years of experience in leading worldwide brands and deep knowledge of consumers, he uses his expertise to guide the Deazly team.

Previously, Doiphode was a core team member for the Global Design Strategy Team at Marriott International, working on brands that included Delta Hotels, Sheraton, Marriott Hotels, Aloft, and AC hotels. He has also worked as an Interior Architect for the renowned firms, SOM and Forrest Perkins. He graduated with a Master’s in Architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art & Design and holds a Master’s in Business for Architecture & Design from IE Business School, Spain. Doiphode grew up in Mumbai, India, and now lives in the DMV Metro Area with his wife and child.

shapeKetan Doiphode
case2CEO & Founder at DEAZLY
InfoArlington, Virginia, USA
InfoMaster in Business for Architecture and Design

"Entrepreneurs are made by the surroundings they are born in or the circle they are exposed to."

Ketan Doiphode


Define your experience in the MAMD program in one word.

“Eye-opening” or “insightful.” Because it made us think about topics which we are not exposed to as architects. It gave us a different perspective.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?

I had been working for 12 years, and I had just hit the glass ceiling. I wanted to start working on my own but didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know how to go about it or didn’t have the courage to take the next steps, I would say. So, I wanted to explore something new, and for me IE was the starting point to figuring out what I needed to do next in my life, in my career. There are many schools in America offering business programs, but I don’t think there is a program specific to the business side of architecture. You have to do architecture along with the business program. So, the MAMD program was very unique in that way. It works for the architect’s mindset… You know, we are a creative bunch. The program also exposes you to architecture firms in London, Spain, and America, and we learned how these architecture firms started their businesses.

How did your experience at IE prepare you for your professional career? In what ways do you think the program has changed your life professionally and personally?

I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to start my own business when I enrolled the program, but I had hit a glass ceiling. I knew that my next step needed to be on the management side, but I was not getting the exposure. This program helped me see the business side of things, and it made me realize that good design is not the only key element to a successful project, or to make a business successful, and also how to negotiate with people. There are several things which are required to make a business successful. So, the program changed my perspective, and learning these things helped me walk into a project managerial role. I was able to display those qualities and it helped me to definitely break that glass ceiling and move into the C-suite.

What is your favourite memory from your time at IE?

It has to be my classmates. There were people from parts of the world… There were students from Lebanon, Egypt, from different parts of Spain… I learned very quickly that people from different parts of Spain are quite different! Everybody’s very different. I met some of the people who came from India, but I lived in the US by then… So, just meeting everybody was a highlight, and my favorite memory is really hanging out with them and eating chocolate con churros in San Ginés!

What is one thing you wished you knew, when you were a student?

So, I was at IE for a one-year program, and by the end of the program we do a final project in the Venture Lab. You have to come up with your business idea, and one of my regrets is that I didn’t create enough ideas. And whatever ideas I had, I didn’t explore each and every one before I rejected them. The company I ended up starting was one of my rejected ideas during these Venture Lab days, but at that moment I didn’t give the idea enough thought and I wish I had, because then I would have got feedback from my fellow students and my professors.

Can you tell us about the challenges and/or opportunities you encountered after graduating from the MAMD? How did the program and IE help you overcome these challenges, or take advantage of these opportunities?

Most of the students in my class had little knowledge about the business side of things. Every time I would think about starting my business I would feel like “I need to learn this; I need to learn that… I don’t know enough before starting a business.” The program helped me understand that it’s not about your weaknesses, it’s about your strengths. So, instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses, you should actually spend time working on your strengths. I knew that I was a good project manager, and I focused on improving those qualities. I ended up getting a senior product management role at Marriott. I would not have got that role if I had not been exposed to all these things at IE.

After working in Marriot for four years you decided to start with your own business. What’s the inspiration behind DEAZLY?

I’d been thinking about this idea for a long time, I always thought that interior design as a service only caters to wealthy people. Average people also want to have good houses, good spaces, but they don’t think about hiring an interior designer because we have priced ourselves out of the market. Also, when I talked with friends and family, I found out that nobody wanted to hire a designer, they would work with a general contractor instead, and that’s because design is simply not an affordable service.

The idea for me was to create a design service affordable for everyone. I looked into what the challenges were, and I came up with a solution that works for a specific kind of client, the one who doesn’t want to pay too much but still want to get something beautiful in return. So, I’ve created a business model which caters to this people.

And you started your business at the right moment because it was just when the pandemic started. With lockdowns imposed everywhere, household expenses fell because people couldn’t go out, and suddenly there was a money surplus that many  were willing to invest in the one place they were spending most of their time in: their homes.

When the Pandemic started I was working for Marriott. 80% of the staff had to sit at home, getting paid half the salary and doing nothing. I was getting bored, you know. So, I had this idea and I soft launched it, like “let’s see what happens.” And suddenly it just boomed. This started out during the pandemic, but at the same time it doesn’t matter whether there was a pandemic or not, there’s very little competition because most interior designers are focusing on the luxury market. They cannot cater to the lower end of the market because interior designers have a lot of overhead. We have too many processes and too many systems, and the profession is very rigid in the way things must be done. I don’t even want to do work for the luxury sector, these are not my clients. It’s actually a pain for me, because they demand more.

Our business model is very specific. There are still people building, and there are people who are looking at Instagram and thinking “why can’t my bathroom or kitchen be like that?” So, we have basically created the structure to cater to these people, and nobody else wants to work for these guys. You probably will never hear about a design firm who only wants to do bathrooms and kitchen, but by focusing on just bathrooms and kitchens we are able to provide this service at a very affordable price.

What are the qualities of good design?

Good design is subjective, right? The way we see it at DEAZLY is today’s consumers know what they want because they’ve seen things on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. And we need to listen to what the client is asking for, and reconcile that with the design. By the end of the renovation work they should feel that it’s their design, not ours. That’s how we see good design. Because good design is subjective. We have to meet the client’s vision, if they are happy in the space, and they feel like we have met their vision, it’s a good design.

The first contact with the client, we also call it project kick-off, because that’s when you get to connect with the client and listen to what they want. It’s fundamental that the client feels that we are listening to what they want. It’s the moment when we’re able to connect with them.

With so many tools available online, do you think that people nowadays are more aware of what good design is?

It’s a very difficult question, you know why? Because sometimes more knowledge can be a curse. I have some clients who come to me having seen something on HGTV, like: “you know, this house development show?” And their vision is skewed because of how easy these shows make it all look, right? They have the exposure, but then, because of how the knowledge is coming to them, it skews the expectation. In that sense I don’t know if more information is really that good.

But, on the other hand the business caters very well to the younger generations because we are completely online, and because we use technology in our design process. Older clients are the most difficult because they want to touch and feel samples, which makes our process a little bit longer. Clients between 35 and 45 really don’t give that much importance on touching samples or things like that as long as you send them an online link to buy a tile, for example, and they can read the reviews. If I send them a faucet from Kohler they know the brand, they feel good about it, they will buy it without looking, because they are tech savvy.

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Entrepreneurs are made by the surroundings they are born in or the circle they are exposed to. For example, I come from a very poor family in India. They’re not risk makers because the most important thing is to put food on the table. Nobody in that situation is going to take a risk, right? Because you want to feed your children. You grow up and these are the things that you see. Somebody else who is maybe surrounded by other people, other kids, other families who have started businesses, even if it’s a small business, they believe in running a business and not to be working for somebody else. That’s what they’re seeing. The most important quality an entrepreneur needs is risk taking. That’s the only quality you need. Everything else will come. You can find people, capital, ideas. But if you have no appetite to take the risk, you just won’t do it.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are in the launching phase?

I’d say you don’t need to wait to know everything. That’s one thing stopping many people, because they think that they need to know everything about the business before they start it. It’s not true. All you have to do is start.

There are only three things you need to start a business: having patience, you just have to give it time, nothing is going to just boom, it can take three to four years, maybe more. Second, you need an idea, it doesn’t need to be the next Facebook, doesn’t need to be the most innovative. As long as you have a good idea and you know how to do it, you’re good. And the third is believing in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, it will be very hard.

When you start your own business, you have to be flexible, be open to criticism, and listen to what the market is saying and evolve accordingly. What I had in my mind for my business was different than what it would become. The vision is still the same: to create an affordable design service; but how to get there, and what I require to get there? It is a lot different than what I had thought I would need to do. So, you have to be flexible.

Don’t take partners at the start of your business. The qualities I was looking for in the partners that I thought I needed to make the business successful are quite different to the qualities I’m looking for right now. If I had started giving up equity at the start it wouldn’t have been good for me. After one and a half years I know exactly the type of people I want, I know how this business is going to evolve, so I know I can look for partners now.

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

If you want something you have to ask for it. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. Don’t think that you can just continue doing work and somebody will just notice you. You need to look out for yourself and speak up.

If you had a billboard that you could display to the world, what would you write on it?

Take the risk, and don’t be scared to fail.