Yesterday morning everyone at Moonpig downed tools to focus on a week of innovation, or “Moonshots”. 24 hours in there’s a great buzz in the office; everyone’s working hard but it feels different, it feels exciting!
Moonpig is a brand founded on disruptive innovation, but as a mature brand, more time is inevitably dedicated to evolving a well-loved set of products, which means there’s less time to try out more radical ideas.
But, as MD James Sturrock explains, innovation is still very important to Moonpig.
“We are a growth business and we really want to grow our customer proposition. We’ve got 5 million customers that use us every year and our job is to keep doing cool things to keep them coming back again and again.”
Over the last few years Moonpig has successfully engaged with agile ways of working and lean development practices. Quick-fire release, test and learn cycles, with A/B testing and rigorous attention to metrics have enabled us to experiment much more. Using the MVP concept has allowed us to take more, well-managed risks.
Whilst these are familiar practices within product and engineering, it is still a new way of working to some of the company. Moonshots offers everyone a chance to experience the lean approach, to see how very ambitious ideas can be achieved in a week. By quickly delivering bold ideas to customers and testing their success, we substantially increase our chances of finding those big, breakthrough ideas.
Engineering and tech play a vital role in innovation, and this is something that is growing in emphasis at Moonpig. In collaboration with the family of brands in the Photobox group, we are currently developing our future tech strategy. Our ambition is that technology should do more than enable business objectives and growth, it should be fundamental to evolving the business. Engineers and engineering should be at the heart of innovation.
The annual Hackathon is enormously popular with the engineering team , so what do they think of the opportunity to spend a week on an idea rather than the usual 24 hours?
Matt Tamsett, a .Net Engineer joined Moonpig less than 6 months ago and was one of the first to submit an idea for Moonshots.
“It’s got the room buzzing and it’s got people thinking differently. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to push my ideas forward, and having a chance to make an impact – I think it would be great to do this more often.
It is a bit stressful, but I’m reasonably confident that I’ll have something delivered by the end of the week, even if it’s not everything I planned!”
Head of App Engineering, Neil Sheppard, is working on an idea he has wanted to try ever since he joined Moonpig three years ago. So how does it feel to be putting it in to practice?
“An innovation week allows you to set your own agenda. When you’re constantly working on other people’s ideas it can feel like you’re working in a feature factory. When you stare at the code every day, and you stare at the app every day, the chances are you’re going to have some pretty good ideas that the wider business might not see.”