After having worked several years as a growth marketer for startups, a career path became pretty obvious for me. I could keep on climbing up the traditional ladder by occupying bigger and bigger positions in tech companies. But deep inside, that was not what I wanted. I rarely felt deeply aligned with the values of my employers, and wanted more freedom in my professional life.
So in December 2015 I left my Head of Growth job in a rising startup to start a new life. I decided to keep on helping companies with their growth strategies, but this time as a freelancer. This changed a lot of my everyday routine, mostly in a good way.
But some things were clearly lacking with freelancing. I understood it would mean a life of loneliness, mainly being alone at home or in coffee shops with few human interactions. It would mean to have no peers to exchange with and learn from. I would lack some inspiration on a daily basis.
That’s one of the main reasons I created the collective Mangrove a few months later with some good friends facing the same changes in their lives. This collective gathered more than 150 people sharing common values. Most of them were incredible designers, developers, marketers and investors with a deep sense of purpose and a huge willingness to share their knowledge with others. This made my personal learning process more powerful than ever, getting and giving help to members on an everyday basis. More importantly, I got an enormous dose of inspiration from the human connexions we created from retreats around the world and the events we hosted in our Parisian office.
Some of the Mangrove members became very good friends and I naturally started to work with them. One of them was Maxime Braud, a UX Designer with an experience at PayPal and a great entrepreneurial mindset. We shared the same passion for mobile apps, and could keep on talking about product and growth techniques for hours. We understood it would be a game changer to join our forces: me coming with Growth strategies, Maxime finding the best UX to implement them. So after a few gigs together, we decided to launch our own product agency: Mozza.
As we loved talking about products, we published a lot on platforms like Slideshare to share our knowledge. Some of our presentations reached hundreds of thousands of views and we began to gather interest around the world, especially in the Silicon Valley.
Among the emails we received, some were startups looking for help with their growth strategy and UX design. Together, we worked for more than 20 companies, mostly in Europe and in the US.
One of them was Heetch, the main competitor of Uber in France.
They needed help on a specific problem: they didn’t want to increase prices during peak times like their competitors, which often caused a mismatch between offer and demand at night.
Maxime and I came up with dozens of possible solutions to solve this challenge with a wide range of strategies: from different demand allocation mechanisms implying gamification or viral features, to alternative improvements to encourage supply.
Eventually, our Boost solution was picked: if the passenger didn’t want to pay, they’ll had to wait or get a bit lucky. Otherwise, a boost was possible, with the 15 percent driver commission only applied to base price, keeping 100 percent of each boost for drivers. This move solved the initial challenge and made sure to keep the process fairer to everyone. It was implemented by Heetch in 2018 and they raised 20 million dollars a few months later.
In the meantime, our company was expanding with new projects and we decided to have more people in the crew.
We first integrated two of the most talented designers we know: Mathieu Grac and Thomas Chretien. Mathieu worked with me at one of my previous companies (Molotov.tv) and became freelance UX/UI designer for French startups. Thomas specialized as a UI specialist with impressive personal projects.
With them, we were able to expand our offer: after having designed a growth strategy and a new UX, we could add the sleek graphic touch that makes the difference.
Two former Product Managers at Blablacar, Lucas Didier and Emile Ledure, joined the crew afterwards to help us learn from users and design new UX flows. Our number of projects rose simultaneously and we were able to triple our turnover in one year.
Having a bigger crew to work with changed everything. Lucas’ UX skills ramped up as he worked with Mathieu. Mathieu on his side was able to focus on his design process instead of worrying about finding new gigs. Maxime and I were able to free some time to give a better structure to our company, a thing we’ve been wanting to do for years.
More importantly, we really developed as a human crew. We shared some great moments, from laughs at restaurants to a trip in Lisbon together. We influenced each other life choices and grew together. Today, our crew counts 8 people who are among the very best product design experts for startups in Europe. And this is only the beginning!
If you are working as a solo freelancer, join a crew. Or create one with friends in the same industry if you don’t find one that fits. You’ll never regret it.
You can hire our crew of UX freelancers by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.