Moze, ten years old
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of our studio, we tell the story of how it all began and how it continues to change.
Earlier this year, Moze turned ten years old. In this decade, we have worked for almost 350 clients, specialising in the design and technological development of web and mobile software. Today, we are a studio involving 13 professionals tackling several dozen projects a year. Our clients are startups, scaleups and companies with a focus on innovation. We are based in Milan, within Talent Garden, but our team is distributed throughout different regions of Italy.
But how did it all begin?
Let’s go back ten years: after collaborating for a long time when we were still students, working as freelancers on small projects that combined graphic design, photography and web development, on 23 January 2012 Matteo Montolli and I took the plunge. That morning we signed the deed of incorporation of our company. This happened in Reggio Emilia, because the notary who had given us the best estimate was based there. The difference between that estimate and the amount any notary in Milan would have asked us for was spent on the same day for the trip, including an excellent stew accompanied by good wine.
Our new status as entrepreneurs required us to set a tone, and we soon did.
The following year, after exhausting negotiations, Sergio Panagia, who had already been a client of ours as a manager of digital projects within a leading Italian publishing group, joined us as a partner. There was a clear vision: to build a studio of design and technology professionals capable of developing quality digital products for innovation-oriented clients.
We chose to settle inside Talent Garden coworking space at Via Merano, in that northeast area of Milan which a few years later would take on the cool name of NoLo.
The years that followed saw dozens and dozens of projects, a great deal of satisfaction and some healthy failures. In the strenuous initial phase we built our network by working at low rates to seize all the opportunities that came our way, sometimes even as subcontractors. A lot of energy was then devoted to building a different, more mature positioning, which would enable us to work on a few high-quality projects, giving up advertising, DEMs and websites developed using prefabricated templates. We decided to invest in the internal team, without ever outsourcing our core activities, and not to expand at all costs, but rather to focus on the growth of a small, highly competent group of people in order not to lose our artisan nature and keep the “agency model” as far away as possible. We chose to work “without filters”: no Project Manager, no Account Manager, the client speaks directly with the partners and with those who design or develop their software (hence the opportunity to invest in the training of our designers and developers to constantly grow not only their technical abilities, but also their soft skills). After a long alternation of great enthusiasm and moments of discouragement, we have finally been able to see the market receiving our studio model positively and a solid network of client companies growing year on year, with a good mix of years-long collaborations and valuable short experiences.
Then in 2020 came Covid. We were a company already used to a certain flexibility in managing work between home and office. Within our team, much of the work was routinely handled by communicating via digital tools.
The situation was a bit different with our clients, with whom we were used to conduct several-day face-to-face workshops, especially at the beginning of a new project. However, the transition to new workshop models, conducted via videoconferencing, came naturally, also helping to streamline the process, making it more pragmatic and less costly for the client.
We figured from the beginning that many of these changes could be permanent, so we let things flow. When some guys from our team told us they wanted to leave Milan to return to their hometown, we encouraged their decision. I myself took advantage of the circumstances to speed up a project I had kept in my drawer for some time and moved to the Umbria region, almost 600 kilometers from the office.
Today Moze still has a home, and this home is always in Milan and always inside Talent Garden, no longer on the Via Merano campus (RIP), but on the Via Arcivescovo Calabiana campus, in the southeast part of the city. The office is used by those who like to frequent it, without any particular constraints. Almost every day some of us are there. Thanks to this hybrid working model, our productivity has increased. The clientele, less concentrated in Milan than in the past, is now more distributed among the main Italian and European cities.
While the operational management of our projects continues to be based on digital tools (Trello, Slack, GitHub, etc.), we have established several regular meetings that take place on Google Meet and help us to see things with perspective, to discuss the road we are on, to strengthen and evolve our vision for the future. This includes:
- Periodic one-to-one meetings of each team member with one of us partners.
- Regular discussions on technical issues for the development team.
- The comparison every fortnight between our designers.
- A monthly retrospective, celebrating the major successes of the month, examining ourselves apart for what went wrong and pointing out where we feel improvements can be made.
- An annual meeting where we present the results of the previous year and map out at a high level the path we wish to take in the year ahead.
- Some weekly or bi-weekly calls to assess the progress of specific types of projects or a single project of particular relevance.
In addition to these work-related appointments, a couple of times a week, immediately after lunch, there is the ‘Moze Café’, a half-hour open call where colleagues can have a chat about non-work-related topics.
During the year we also try to spend time together outside the office and away from the monitor. After an enforced break for the well-known reasons, we are now planning a Team Retreat at the seaside, which will follow the previous editions in the print shop, in the pizzeria, in the hills and in the mountains.
If you want to join our team, expect to do things like that. If you want to choose us as a partner for your next project, expect to partner with people like that.