Mando was born in 1997 – before the internet really took off. Founder and CEO, Ian Finch, was in university at the time, having just turned down an opportunity with IBM, working at British Steel as part of his placement year. And he was in trouble, because placement students shouldn’t turn down jobs with IBM…
Working out what to do next, and wondering if this ‘internet thing’ could become big, Ian and two friends started a business. On their third attempt at opening a bank account, they put their student loans together and moved into a tiny 2-man office on September 1st 1997; cold-calling companies in the yellow pages, starting with ‘A’, asking if they wanted a website. Fast forward 20 years and Mando has 60+ staff with an office in London, is partner to leading experience platforms Microsoft, Sitecore, and Episerver, and working with companies like TalkTalk Business, TFL and Bentley.
With a story like that behind them, we weren’t surprised when we asked them what four words might sum them up as an agency, “curious, collaborative, momentum makers” Ian tells us. “We keep asking questions because we love what we do,” he says, “we believe in collaboration and sharing ownership of problems and successes. And momentum isn’t just a buzzword to us… We pursue growth and learning for ourselves and our clients, because standing still isn’t an option.” It’s entrenched in their DNA and there’s no denying it.“ We’re always trying to take technology to the next level and see what problems we can solve with it.”
Mando work with large organisations to “help them simplify the lives of their customers and employees. What they do works really well in Utilities, Manufacturing, Financial Services and Telecoms, and they work with companies such as Together, Tata Steel, and United Utilities. “We believe that simplification leads to an improved customer experience, which in turn, drives loyalty and results,” Ian explains. They work entirely in digital, providing everything from strategy, design and build services to help their customers to execute ideas that are based on an understanding of their customer and business needs – “we do it with a passion for simplicity.”
Lately, they’ve been working on big projects and the outcomes have all been around driving value for their customers. Everything from delivering a Sitecore XP solution for Norican Group to provide their customers with a more personalised online experience. “We mapped out over 140 customer journeys, and now, customers are optimally served with relevant content across multiple brands, territories, and 11 languages.” They weren’t kidding when they said they do things to simplify the lives of their customers. Doing similar work with long-term clients TalkTalk Business and United Utilities.
The curious and collaborative nature of Mando shines through when you talk to them about their way of doing things, “we’re always trying to take technology to the next level and see what problems we can solve with it.” They often hold innovation days “to inspire creativity and innovation amongst staff, and encourage them to simplify a real challenge.”“ It’s hasn’t always been plain sailing, though. Getting to where we are now, we’ve hit some tough times, but we’ve always come out stronger at the end of it, and that’s really brought us together. ”
Their previous developments have included an arcade machine, and even a hovercraft, but it’s the Timesheet Beer Fridge that has stood the test of time – award winning and making headlines in industry press. “It’s a fun solution to a genuine business need of getting 100% of staff timesheets completed every week incentivising by both carrot and stick” he explains, “if, by 4pm Friday, every employee has submitted their timesheets, an Internet of Things magnetic lock opens on the fridge and everyone gets to help themselves to a cold beer. In the lead up to this, a list of ‘beer blockers’ is shown. Staff are then harassed by colleagues to complete their timesheets. No nagging from senior management required.” And as though that wasn’t cool enough, they added some artificial intelligence in there too, so now staff can talk to the fridge.
The culture here embraces innovation and new ideas, and it shines through not only their work, but also their environment. The moment you step into their offices, you’re welcomed by a tiny robot on the huge screen in the entrance, then you’re guided into the main area by huge green arrows pointing you into the main area. “Mando’s culture has a really positive vibe and a sense of togetherness. It’s hasn’t always been plain sailing, though. Getting to where we are now, we’ve hit some tough times, but we’ve always come out stronger at the end of it, and that’s really brought us together”, he explains, “it’s also great working in an environment where everyone clearly loves what they do. Everyone is fully behind our mission to simplify people’s live, and great things happen with that kind of energy. It’s contagious.”
Mando are fast becoming one of Liverpool’s largest agencies and we ask Ian why here. “We love Liverpool, it’s really exciting to see how quick the digital industry is growing in the region,” he says. In recent years, Liverpool has experienced the second-fastest growth in new digital companies, more than doubling its number of digital firms*. “There’s a great community here that are driving that, it’s nice being able to contribute to it too.”
Early last year they moved into their offices located in the Commercial District of the city, where they’ve deliberately chosen to dedicate a quarter of their floor space to collaboration and better ways of working, taking people away from their desks and promoting them to interact with one another. “It’s provided such a value add in terms of our creativity, sense of freedom, and lack of constraint. And that’s visible in our work,” he says, “having a huge and vibrant kitchen and lounge area has really supported our culture too. We all look forward to 4pm on Friday, where we gather around the beer fridge and Skype our London office to catch up on what we’ve all been up to that week – over a nice cold beer.”
They’re not stopping there though, their future is one to cast your eyes on. “We’re just going to keep getting better at what we do; innovating with our core technologies and elevating the customer experience, delivering value to our customers, and continuing to grow the team. We currently have 5 people in our London office and we’re planning on growing it to 20 within the next couple of years – with plans to grow the Liverpool team as well. Hopefully, the next few years are going to be really exciting for Mando.”
*As stated in Tech Nation 2017 report.
Written by Robyn Jones