Q + A: UsTwo
UsTwo is an award-winning digital product studio that conceives, launches, and scales digital products and services. It started with two childhood friends, Matt "Mills" Miller and John "Sinx" Sinclair, working together as “ustwo” back in 2004, exploring and building digital products when they were just starting to become developed.
We sat down with Gabriel Marquez, the managing director of UsTwo, to learn more about what the company brings to DUMBO, and how they are aiding in the evolvement of digital products.
Hi Gabriel, it's great to have the chance to chat! I'm excited to hear about UsTwo and its story. How long have you been up and running as a digital product studio? What made you get into the design industry as a whole?
UsTwo is a digital product studio. We help businesses launch and grow by building products and services. Our first (and biggest) office is in England, and we also have offices in Sweden, Portugal, Japan, and since 2011, the United States. We are a B-corp organization, which means we’ve committed to a formal structure where we’re held to the highest standards of ethical social and environmental policy, and in doing so, aligned our business with our values. We also recently converted to an employee ownership/trust. This means a majority of the business is owned by the employees as a whole! We work across industries such as retail, health care, fitness, hospitality, and transportation. In fact, we’re pretty industry agnostic.
We initially were known for creating Monument Valley, one of the first breakout success games to be released on the iPad. As that matured, we spun the games side of the business into its own independent business, UsTwo games. We continue as UsTwo Studios, which focuses on the client/service part of the digital business and we’ve leveraged our background in game development to inform our product design, conception and development.
We focus on designing around emotional outcomes just as much as a transactional output. Our projects and products have a playful energy to them as we have realized humans are playful beings. It makes our products more emotionally satisfying thus creating a higher success rate.
Dumbo has amazing credibility.
How did UsTwo end up in DUMBO?
We were located in lower Manhattan for many years, but when the pandemic hit, our needs changed and we moved to a hybrid operating model. Most of our employees live in Brooklyn, and as we progressed into the pandemic we realized we needed an office close to home that also meets our needs. DUMBO meets our needs! It is convenient for all of our employees to get to, and it has an amazing credibility level as well. The views don’t hurt either!
Our projects and products have a playful energy to them - because humans are playful beings.
What is it like being a B corp certified organization?
We are re-evaluated for certification on a regular basis and we are rated on a series of different categories, from environmental policy to employee treatment. We are always working on improving our score. As I mentioned before, we converted to employee ownership as well, which is significant for a small company. The poster children for B-corp are Patagonia and Ben and Jerrys, so the rigor for a smaller company needed to get certified is consequential to us.
We focus on designing around emotional outcomes just as much as a transactional output. Our projects and products have a playful energy to them as we have realized humans are playful beings.
What digital products/designs have you worked on recently?
One of our recent projects was Peloton Lanebreak. Our goal was to utilize gaming elements to help create a new way to get fit on the Peloton platform. It is an unusual “game," because you are using a stationary bike as the controller. Another fitness project we worked on is the Body Coach, the number one fitness app in the UK. We also helped create Safespace – a website for mental health crisis services. Safespace was actually used to support the recently launched nationwide hotline, 988, for mental health crises. Finally, we recently launched the Lilly Together app for Lilly, which helps people manage chronic conditions, made for those in the healthcare space.
If a client wants to contact UsTwo to create with the company, where can they do that?
A prospective client can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reach the U.S Branch. We are pretty high touch. We work shoulder to shoulder with our clients and we present work regularly. We work in an agile fashion and take communication with our clients very seriously. We focus on getting tangible fast and showing things that we can test and learn from as soon as possible.
What is your favorite “secret spot” in the neighborhood? Anywhere you like to grab a bite to eat or your favorite view?
I am still learning about DUMBO because I am new to the neighborhood, but I used to box at Gleason's, so I have a soft spot in my heart for that gym. I had my first amateur bout there. I like walking along the water the most. I started my career in the film industry, and the first movie I worked on shot in Empire Fulton Ferry, at the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s amazing to be back twenty four years later and still be able to capture the beauty of the space. Oh, and Bread and Spread is my favorite lunch spot.