Red Ninja Studios
Founded back in 2011 by Lee Omar, Red Ninja started out as your typical bootstrapped, digital start-up creating simple apps and websites. Fast forward a few years, and they’re a leading design-led technology company grown in Liverpool and now working across the world, in places such as Malaysia, Singapore, India, Europe, Brazil, and Mexico.
They’re a team of designers, software developers, UX researchers, electrical engineers, data scientists, illustrators, content producers and project managers who use technology to “improve people’s lives and create better futures”. Their belief is in using the power of design and collaboration to make a difference and to do so, they focus their work on health care, social care, smart cities, transport, and culture.
Their clients represent some of the leading organisations and institutions that are truly making a difference in peoples’ lives; from the NHS, to local councils, to universities, to private organisations and the UK Government. We sat down with James, COO of Red Ninja, to find out more about what makes them tick as an agency, how they approach creativity, and how they got to where they are today.
Red Ninja Studio
“We use design thinking to make a difference. For us, design is about making things better. This approach puts people at the heart of our design process. We believe that everyone has the power to create and innovate. We see people as people, rather than target users or demographics and we learn about what matters to the people who will use our products, and discover opportunities to do things better by working across disciplines.”
Design Thinking was born from IDEO’s Tom and David Kelley, and is now a method the industry put at the core of their creative processes. “Design thinking has the power to solve really big and complex problems. It’s helped us to deliver breakthrough solutions for health, transport, retail, education, business and urban planning,” explains James. “Our design process underpins every project we deliver. Our approach is cyclical and has three phases: Listen, Think and Do.”“ We look for people who can use their initiative, grab the opportunity that is there, not wait to be spoon-fed the answer, but who are confident to use their skills to make a difference.”
Red Ninja Studios has been recognised internationally for their work and their innovations, and not so surprisingly it’s led them on to winning a number of awards, being invited to government roundtables, having research papers published in leading journals, and have even been hand-picked to accompany the Prime Minister on a trade visit to India.
James see’s all of this as “rewards in their own right” for the work that they’re doing. But when we discuss highlights as a company, they look past the rewards… “Our biggest highlight as an agency is working with people and seeing their reaction to the work we create. Whether that is a young person with mental health issues using one of our apps, an elderly person using wearable technology to live a more dignified independent life or a new mother using video technology to see her baby in the hospital,” he reflects. “The reactions of people we are helping is always the highlight of the hard work we put in day in, day out.”
“No matter what role you have at Red Ninja, the team are all connected by the drive to use our collective skills to innovate and disrupt for the greater good. The projects we work on connect us by giving us a shared purpose, and this is really important to remember during the times when things are hard, projects are not going to plan, clients are being difficult etc. Ultimately knowing that the work we are doing is making a real difference to people’s lives.“ We empower people to do great work from day one. We work bloody hard but with a passion and integrity to make a difference.”
The team is going through an exciting stage of growth at the moment, and if we could we’d apply for the roles they’re currently looking for but obviously, we can’t – but we wonder what it takes to be a real Ninja and what the culture is like here.
“When it comes to looking for new talent, first and foremost we look for skills and experience that is relevant to what we do – be that design or development,” he says. “However, what’s more important is getting to know someone and understanding what drives them, what motivates them and whether they will fit into the team. We look for people who can use their initiative, grab the opportunity that is there, not wait to be spoon-fed the answer, but who are confident to use their skills to make a difference.”
“We always try to be as transparent and open as possible within the team. We empower people to do great work from day one. We work bloody hard but with a passion and integrity to make a difference. We also try and have fun along the way and make time for socialising as a team who grow together and support each other as a family.”
As their team grows, their ambitions do to… “Moving into 2018 we’re bringing in new ways of working and focussing on moving from ‘delivering great projects’ to ‘scaling great products’. We’ll continue to deliver work through our Red Ninja Studios part of the business, but will also be spending time on creating the right structure to grow some of our standalone ventures such as iSensing, Little Moments and LiFE.”