How I Started a Collaboration
Platform For Creative Marketing Teams
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, I am Mila, a founder of Moderne and an award-winning Art Director. Moderne is an insight and collaboration platform for creative marketing teams at agencies and brands. It provides tons of ideas, trends, innovations, and insights highly tailored for the next marketing or advertising campaign.
Moderne provides a digital workspace for team collaboration. In other words, I want to share with you an approach for boosting the work of creative minds – with the help of inspiration, data, and a little bit of magic.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I used to be an Art director at Leo Burnett Israel, working on popular advertising campaigns for large brands like Samsung, Burger King, Kia, etc. I have won some major advertising awards, including Cannes Lions. During my daily routine, I faced problems all creative advertising teams have: spending hours or even days doing research, chaos during brainstorming sessions, and preparing assets to present ideas to other people.
In our competitive world, industries are constantly shifting towards new tech solutions. Due to recent world events, many companies have started to redesign and reimagine their operational perspectives. The world situation has accelerated automation and digitization.
All things considered, I thought why the creative process in Ad agencies is still the same as it was in the 60s. Do you remember the Mad Men Series? Nothing has changed much. Creativity is a paradox: It’s free-flowing, but it needs structure to take off.
When I needed Moderne it wasn’t there, so I decided to build it. Build a product that can help to tackle the chaos of the creative process and can help creative minds collect, create, and manage ideas and collaborate with teammates in one place.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
As an early-stage startup, we face a big range of tiny challenges every day. It is how a startup grows and evaluates! I would love to share a story here of challenging transformation and the slight pivot.
I started the previous version of Moderne 1.0 “Creative ideas as a Service.” In that version – we turned digital marketing campaigns from traditional approaches to creative approaches. There is a stigma that good creative campaigns are costly, and creativity can only exist in a high budget. I felt that there is some financial gap between creative advertising and traditional digital approach.
To prove that a critical asset to make a great creative product/campaign is – AN IDEA, I built Moderne 1.0. It was profitable from day one, but it wasn’t very easy to scale it up. We decided to turn it into SaaS for creative teams to help them in their creative processes. And it is quite a challenge for a founder to pivot an idea in honour of more value.
Who is your target market?
First of all, I am building Moderne for advertising fellows like me! Creative crew inside big agencies and brands. Also, I received very positive feedback from the strategy and innovation departments.
I believe that our product is very scalable. My next steps are to make it useful for freelance individuals, designers, and all kinds of creators.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
For a small startup, It is crucial to building brand awareness. We have to be creative in our ways to tell people what Moderne is about. It’s a fresh new product that is not known at all. To start marketing Moderne we have developed a strong brand identity and a cool and fresh website that got a lot of appreciation from the creative community.
As a B2B product, we are reaching agencies and brands. We have direct access to large agencies in Germany with our acceleration program in Hamburg. Also, we are going to participate in industry conferences and meetups, offline, and online.
I would love to share with you that we launched our newsletter, “Creative Minds Weekly” and we run a creative feed on our website. It is a weekly roundup of highlights from creative technology, advertising, unexpected trends, and non-obvious insights. I like this section because Moderne is dedicated to helping creative people stay inspired and more productive. We are in touch with innovation strategists, creative directors, etc. and we are pitching them directly.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
We recently launched our product on Product Hunt. The “Creative Minds Weekly” is very promising. We are in touch with a lot of creative agencies and brands around the globe.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We are a small team that gathers together an aim to build an innovative solution for creative team collaboration. We are passionate about working together and transforming ideas into a great tool.
Moderne is a part of an industry that is constantly evolving, so thinking differently and out of the box is a key to be successful. For me, as a leader, it is important to maintain such a creative spirit in my team. We are trying not to establish any borders and strict rules; we are trying to prioritize culture, to be respectful and kind, to be open to difference.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
I think that great software drives our modern lives. I use Notion and Slack for communication and collaborations. Zoom calls or Google Hangouts are quite handy! I use Spotify for music inspiration. If I have time, I love to test new products on the market – our team is always open to trends and innovations!
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Good question. I am continually learning, new day – new challenges, new lessons to learn. If I could use a time machine and go back in time, I would say, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for advice. Talk about new ideas, inspiration, fire up! People love to give advice and share opinions if they feel your passion. Most of the industry leaders, if you ask them correctly, would be happy to help or at list answer a few questions, it could be life-changing for you.
Everything is super new and there is another good advice: think differently! Many standard approaches won’t work anymore and time counts. So be creative and work fast! And remember: where data meets creativity, that’s where the magic happens.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
To be an entrepreneur, it’s all about creating value around your beliefs and ideas. Being a part of the advertising and creative industry, I am a big believer in embracing change during a creative process. This embrace of change is an idea we now see everywhere in the entrepreneur. Change and creativity are very similar. I would say to be an entrepreneur is to be creative in squared. The best key scenario for me to build a startup should be like attending a high-energy event is as much about having a good time as it is about changing the world.
Another aspect that I love about being an entrepreneur is that it opens up opportunities and some sort of freedom. In my case, I have been travelling a lot lately. Living in more than 16 different cities and 6 countries.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I am trying to focus on the positive side. I have tons of responsibilities and it is important to stay positive and share that energy with your team and people around you. There are tons of unpredictable things that might happen but since I am going with that creative flow I am willing to trust it.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I am inspired by the great work of other people. There are a lot of great leaders in the different industries that all together formed my mindset.
For creative inspiration: “Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson and “Science of Storytelling” by Will Storr. I would say those books can help to get a better understanding of the creative process. The Woodshed podcast by Alex Bogusky – not a long podcast set but worth listening to and getting inspired.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I guess everyone says bigger, better and more profit and I’m no exception. I think the difference is I’m not aiming to be a big unicorn with this current company. I’m happy with getting to a point where I have financial freedom and time freedom, the latter actually being more important to me.
It would be great to get the business to a place where it basically runs itself and requires minimum input from me. I’m then free to either take holiday or most likely start something else. It’s easy for me to say I don’t want much and I’d be happy with a small/medium company but once you get there I’m sure your mindset changes. But I could see myself running a few different businesses like this.