Starting an In-House Incubator // Part 1
How did we launch Mito Studio?
In a nutshell: with loads of questions.
The longer answer: when the founders conceived Mito, they envisioned a company developing its own products, taking care of its own advertising and becoming an agency in its own right by making the most of the available top quality grey matter. We took quite a detour through almost a decade and we would like to share our story and all the learnings along the way.
Mito started out as a small company based in Budapest, Hungary in 2007 as the child of three entrepreneurs with a vision to create a company to develop its own products. At the beginning, there was just a handful of people creating the first result of this collaboration, which was a community website. Saying that we had created a new social networking portal may sound funny today, but remember we are talking ten years back when this was all the craze and thus, creating a website solely dedicated to presenting yourself and presenting others seemed like the best idea. (It was called mutasd.be, which more or less translates to “introduce someone”. Today we would probably call it introduce.me, or something like that.) This project received good feedback, some serious traction and ended up being acquired by a large media firm in Hungary.
Some next projects followed in the coming years, like
- a quite popular poker community website (a long time back when online poker was still synonymous with fun, using gaming chips instead of hard cash; not surprisingly defunct today),
- a personal finance tracking app called Koin (spreading on all mobile platforms and the web even as of today)
- and also an online men’s magazine called Player (with its own development and editorial team).
However, there was a serious change going on in the Hungarian market: the shifting of the advertising scene. Good thinking, smart solutions, digitally integrated and idea-centered campaigns started to take control and it shaped a new path for Mito. This is how we started shifting towards client work and by today we had become a top agency in Hungary. We have grown to a 150-people company with a massive development department for hatching ideas using the newest technologies, and also massively turning abroad for ever new challenges. We have done everything digital from desktop to mobile, from web to native apps, and besides completing great projects all over Europe we also set foot on some other continents.
Still, not just being digitally native but also making our own products is in our DNA and we miss it badly. We have a strong need to experiment with the newest technologies while we learn a lot about new things and areas. We strive to make space for all that even besides client work by initiatives such as organizing hackathons, allowing for experimentation, self-learning time and in-house mentoring for everyone (and we will write more about those as a different chapter).
But again, making your own product and being in complete control of your own creation is a totally different story. So we thought a lot about how to steer back our spaceship to the beginning. We would never regret a minute of our client work, which we love to do, and would also definitely not give it up for anything, but at the same time we’re considering restarting, on a new path. Again.
Basically, we have all the resources to build our own products:
- We have great minds to figure out how to solve a complex problem.
- We have great coders and designers to shape and solidify a product.
- We have great creative talents to guide us on how to brand and communicate a vision.
- We have great project managers who can perfectly steer any project.
- We have great whole bunch of everything else that we may ever need thanks to our smaller specialist teams like data scientists, consultants, analysts, media planners, and strategists.
- We have all these in-house initiatives where a lot of amazing product ideas or even prototypes get born.
So, having everything is all nice, but still, those are just the basics.
The challenging part is that Mito is not the same company now as it was in 2007. It has grown rapidly, it has divisions and evolved processes, it is a mature organization.
- How can we make our own stuff while agency work remains to be our core activity?
- How can we organize our resources in order to give birth to some amazing own products, while the amount of agency tasks are still the same, or even increasing?
- How can we use the great grey matter material of Mito effectively?
- Should we create just a network of people working on a project of our own, or dedicate a specific team to the task, or create a completely new company within or besides the company even?
We had our launching platform but we needed to figure out how to take off. So bear with us and will tell you about our story on how we took up that challenge and how we figured out a way to take the first steps of Mito Studio.
This is the first part in our series of Starting an In-House Incubator. Move on to the next part to see how we started forming the concept of Mito Studio.