Donkey Business™ 👔

From stupid to #professionalism

Raoul having the time of his life

Last year we wrote about how, after sitting on a pile of 1000 piñatas, we decided to start a piñata store. We then sold that store and bought it back again, simply because we found that those 1000 piñatas have shaped an important part of our company culture; a culture where working on stupid stuff is seen as a surprisingly valuable way to spend our time.

In our Oslo office we’ve created a Lab where we can test emerging technologies and learn to make fun, new things. We’ve created a laser briefcase, a kinetic-controlled LED screen, a Hotline Bling doorbell and a few other products like, for example, drones. We’ve built small drones, big drones and drones that shoot rockets (made of rubber, don’t worry!).

A new, silly business idea

At some point, a random thought struck us: what if we can combine the drones we’ve built with the piñata store we’ve created? We’re still selling piñatas on a regular basis, so perhaps we could set up a fun experiment and deliver those piñatas by drone.

One thing led to another, and before we knew it we were dedicating time to this project. We decided to create an iOS app with which you can request a drone-delivered piñata at a location of your choosing, within Oslo.

Explaining how Raoul and his friends get from A to B

We all immediately got really excited about this project—we work on solving challenging design and development problems on a regular basis, and this project simply allowed us to go crazy and have fun. No strings attached. Except, well, to the drone 👀

We named the project Flying Piñata, designed and built a simple iOS app and created a single-page website where people could find out about the project. Bjarne and Ole Martin created fun illustrations and played around with confetti, while Elvis dabbled in iOS animation and Susanne experimented with CSS3 animations—it wasn’t just fun to create this thing; we actually learned some very valuable things along the way.

“We need a commercial”

That’s what Tobias said at some point in the process. He started coming up with ideas and we said “sure, why not” and all had a good laugh about it. Tobias didn’t, however, so we were actually going to create a commercial.

This taught us a thing or two about our drone’s capabilities. It was the middle of the winter in Norway and therefore pretty difficult to keep a drone going when the temperature is -15ºC. To make sure the drone didn’t crash several times during the shoot for the commercial, we had to heat its sensitive parts with a hairdryer. Because of this we made quite a few adjustments to the drone, making sure it’s able to cope with the cold Norwegian climate.

Our drone has a cool feature that allows us to lock it in its current position, like a helicopter. We thought the feature was solid, but we learned the hard way that it needed a little more work. We‘d rented video equipment to shoot the commercial in one day. Evening was looming, and we were in the process of shooting the terrace delivery. Unfortunately, being very close to a building wall made the drone’s GPS signal freeze, causing it to crash heavily. 
So, we rebuilt the drone in one night and rented the video equipment for another day. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Our warm-and-fuzzy-feeling piñata drone-delivery commercial

Hosting a launch event

To reveal our new service, we organised a launch event at our office in Oslo. 250+ attendees showed up to see what we’d cooked up. We appointed our favourite extrovert Brandon Brock–who previously handled marketing at Facebook–as Flying Piñata’s CEO. He took the stage with a great presentation about professionalism and synergy–he really got the crowd going–after which a piñata was delivered to our roof terrace by drone, exceeding many visitors’ expectations.

Drone market projections!

What started as a silly idea quickly turned into a fun, valuable project. This project, born on our playground, allowed us to present ourselves as a studio not afraid to try new things and definitely not scared of doing something dumb. We’ve learned valuable things from this project that’ll definitely come in handy whenever someone asks us to create something similar.

Funnily, Flying Piñata has sparked the interest of many talented individuals—a recent hire wouldn’t sign the contract before we’d delivered a piñata—and it landed us one of the greatest client projects we’ve had so far. It has allowed us to explore possibilities far beyond our expectations, from delivering wedding rings to newlyweds to supplying blood from one hospital to the other.

But, most importantly, the story works really well on parties 🙃 🎉