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A World of Wow

How multi award-winning studio ustwo manage creativity at scale (and invested in Marvel to do it)

ustwo sets a new standard for creative studios. Founded in 2004 by Mills and Sinx, the ambition has always been to build a company that’s about incredible, ground-breaking work, but also about life, passion and play. And they’ve made good on that – doing innovative brand work alongside launching their own award-winning products, starting new ventures and growing steadily to be over 300 strong in four locations across the world.

“I introduced Marvel to the company and it became very obvious to us all that they were already doing a lot of what we needed.”

In a recent Guardian article, Mills was euphoric about his vision for the future, “When we create our true utopia, it’s going to be this play-haven. A big place where we have this mixture of amazing client/services and products stuff, our investments and joint ventures. And also a school – we already have CoderDojos here at weekends for young kids”. ustwo’s restless dedication to what’s next, or as Mills termed it, “a proper world of wow”, not only sets them apart, it makes them unlike anything else. The studio invested in Marvel at the end of 2014, and have been active users – and ambassadors – ever since. We asked Mills to tell us more about his decision to back Marvel and how it’s used across the company. Over to him…

“I first met Murat Mutlu (co-founder, Marvel) when he was slaving away in an advertising company and we would meet up and talk about the old school pitching processes that involved PowerPoint presentations (classic banter!). His frustration at the lack of ability to get something more tangible into the client’s hand clearly frustrated him so much that he decided to pack in his well paid job, raise a small amount of money, and build what would soon become Marvel. Maybe that’s not the exact story but I like to think it was that. Regardless, he saw a problem, he saw a need, and he foresaw that the future of selling in product visions would be in the form of usable prototypes.

It was around this time that a team of ustwobies were researching prototyping tools and deciding if we wanted to build our own tool to suit the needs of our teams. We’d been considering going bespoke for a number of the utilities we use to run ustwo, and we were weighing up the pros and cons of moving into this space. In parallel I was talking more and more with Marvel about their vision and plans for the future. I introduced Marvel to the company and it became very obvious to us all that they were already doing a lot of what we needed. The team at Marvel was so laser-focused on making the best prototyping tool that we decided that investing in them would be the best way to achieve our goals.

“A good idea starts with one person, but only a team can bring it to life.”

The key need for ustwo teams is the ability to act like one. One of our producers, Toph Brown, wrote a blog post about the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective Teams’; “A good idea starts with one person, but only a team can bring it to life. We believe that being together, communicating directly, and providing constant feedback is the best way to build strong teams and do good work. Involving other people in your work also creates team-wide ownership”. Marvel doesn’t just bring prototypes to life, it allows our teams to work together on the experience as a whole.

Lawrence, a product lead, says he used to “dream” of something like Marvel, “It makes our workflow so much more efficient, and provides a point of reference between designers and devs which was missing before. You can go from talking on a board to something you can feel and play with in ten minutes. As a product lead – Marvel helps me maintain quality”. Even better, it makes the client a more integral part of the team too, “The client can review it using a link, and see it ‘working’ on their phone. It’s kind of perfect,” agreed Paz, a digital designer.

At ustwo we look to invest in companies where we can add value well beyond the cash investment. We believe in the product, the vision, and the team and we now use Marvel across all our studios – feeding input in daily and supporting by raising awareness in a product that is defining the way we are able to articulate ideas to the world”. Mills, co-founder, ustwo

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