Mint Digital, a product development studio based in Exmouth House (when they're not in the Big Apple), specialise in helping companies achieve their creative goals, whether that means projecting Instagram photos using a miniature projector, or developing a sex-education platform for useless teenagers. They've been going from strength to strength since they were established in 2004 and have sold two startups in the last two years.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I'm a 38-year-old, right-handed, 5ft 11in, curly-haired, book-loving, one-wife-two-kids type of a guy.
With a couple of friends, I started Mint nine years ago. I'm delighted that we have stayed in business and continued to grow since then.
Tell us about Mint Digital and the products for which you’re most famous.
Mint is a product development studio of 35 people based in London and New York. Half our work is as an agency, helping other firms conceive, design and implement innovative digital products. The other half is launching our own digital products.
Two of our products are DeskBeers, craft beer delivered to your office every Friday, and Boomf, your Instagram on marshmallows, which we set up with Kate Middleton's brother James.
How long have you been based at Exmouth House and why?
We've been in Exmouth House for two years. Before that we were in a Workspace office in Vauxhall for six years.
I really wanted to be in west London to reduce my commute, but all the offices on that side of town were too expensive or too miserable or both, so I got over-ruled and we ended up here. Still, at least the food is good.
That said, I absolutely love Workspace. They provide flexible workspace for young entrepreneurs, while simultaneously revitalising slightly forgotten industrial buildings. Doing either alone would count as a valuable social benefit coming from a private company. That they do both is amazing.
Workspace is up there with Apple and First Direct as one of my favourite companies in the world! (And I'm not just saying that because I'm on your website.)
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
I think I am most proud of the culture we created at Mint. The devolved, empowered structure means that people come here and create great things.
Steve Marshall was a designer who has turned into a fantastic founder and CEO for Desk Beers. Kejia Zhu was a young physics graduate working in IT at a bank. He joined us and then launched StickyGram, which is probably our biggest success to date.
What have been your biggest business challenges?
I personally spent the first five years of Mint's life focusing on a useless problem (how to structure web/TV crossover formats) and wasted a lot of time and money in the process.
There was a time when we nearly ran out of money and had to ask the entire team to defer a portion of their pay. That was challenging in lots of ways.
Where do you see Mint Digital in a year's time? In three years’ time?
We don't really plan that far ahead. We just focus on creating quality digital products and trust that everything else will slot into place.
What are the most important trends in digital businesses and startups?
Mobile. If you don't believe it, check out Benedict Evans' fantastic presentation.
If you weren’t CCO at Mint Digital, what would you be doing? What do you think the rest of your team would be doing?
I don't really know. I've lucked out by doing something I love. I used to dream of being a tree surgeon or a teacher, but now I'd rather be involved at Mint.
The team are a pretty diverse bunch so I'm not sure what they'd do. There's a lot of love for making stuff, so I imagine most of them would still be designing and coding somewhere, probably just drinking more beer and listening to louder music.
Who would you ask (dead or alive) to be a dream member on your board of directors?
Ben Horowitz, author.
What are the most important things for you in an office space? What's your office luxury?
The most important thing is a good internet connection.
My pneumatic drill headphones are my luxury, if they count as a luxury. It's slightly ridiculous but I couldn't work without them.
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