Blog: Posts in reflections
For over ten years Mint has practised a form of flexible working, and I think it’s one of Mint’s hidden gems. Mint hasn’t explained its flexible working practice in the past but we’re currently hiring, and articulating this to potential hires always proves difficult. So I thought now is the time to write about what it means to me. Don’t mistake me, this is my personal view of Mint’s working practise and this can mean different things to different people.
Every year, Mint skidaddles out of London for a week and splits into teams to work on a challenging brief. We call it the Web App Weekender (it has grown in size since it was first named). Last year the location was beautiful Devon, and the challenge was to build something that would make money by the end of the week.
Here, we’re going to look at what one of the two teams built - a Slack bot called Rex. We’re writing about Rex after all this time because, for a little while, it felt like it might be a viable opportunity for a Mint venture. The reasons it didn’t - which will become apparent in this article - are hopefully illustrative of the rigorous approach Mint has to validating products.
At Mint we’re building new digital products and services all of the time. When I mention this to anyone that’s interested, they often assume that this means we continuously have something to work on that we think is “the big one” — a veritable unicorn on the slate 24/7.
Sadly for us that’s not realistic. We’re a small team, it takes time to identify problems, determine potential solutions and to figure out if the opportunity is right for us and more importantly if we’re right for it.
What follows is a true story.
It’s a fast-moving tale of opportunism, entrepreneurialism, innovation and, ultimately, broken dreams set in the cut n’ thrust world of digital product development. Hold onto your Moleskines.
We’re often asked to participate in talks or publications about Startup Studios. The common question is about the money. The tone is generally “Startup Studios are all well and good, but are they just a bunch of agency folk messing around?”
At Mint we started developing our own products for a number of reasons, only one of which was financial. Also we wanted to:
Scratch an intellectual or creative itch;
Make cool things;
Improve our working environment;
Show the world what we can do;
Put ourselves in the same shoes as our clients.
But as 2015 is drawing to a close I decided to investigate the financial returns on Mint’s various ventures. Here is my methodology: