Our evening with ustwo (Mills & Neef) - Inside The Studio - Steadfast Collective
10th Mar 2020
3 min

Our evening with ustwo (Mills & Neef) – Inside The Studio

In February Mills and Neef from ustwo joined us for our Creative X Business event.

Written by:

Inside The Studio is our behind the scenes series which lifts the lid on how we run our Digital Product Studio.

We’re giving away our tips, tricks and processes which help us grow year after year.


In February, Mills and Neef from ustwo joined us for our Creative X Business event. ustwo is a multi-national business started back in 2014 by Mills and Sinx.

ustwo is a leading design, technology, games, and venture company with studios in Malmö, Lisbon, Sydney, Tokyo, New York and London.

Perhaps best known for crafting the award-winning game Monument Valley, co-founder Mills and Neef from ustwo adventures will be joining us to share their story and announcing something special.

The format of the evening was an interview, digging into the history of ustwo, what’s the current state-of-play and looking ahead to the future.

In this week’s Inside The Studio, we talk three a few of our favourite talking points form the evening.

1) Looking back at Monument Valley

Monument Valley wasn’t ustwo’s first venture into the mobile games world.

Mills spoke about how previous games, such as Whale Trail, had low-level success. Bringing in ‘game’ people into the mix is one of the factors Mills associates with the success of Monument Valley, that blend of having a mix of UX, UI folk from a more studio background working with folk with a games background.

The thought was very much, neither group of people could have made something as special as Monument Valley in isolation, but together they could.

2) Cross-functional teams

Each section of ustwo is a separate company in its own right, but this doesn’t stop each team or company learning from each other and sharing resource when required.

Whatever business you’re running this is something important to remember. Each department of your team, no matter how small, has something to teach another section of your business.  If you run a restaurant, your front-of-house team I’m sure would love to share some of their lessons with the kitchen team.

Neef shared the thought that there is an ustwo baseline of culture in every ustwo office. Each office or team may have it’s own quirks and feel but there is this underlying ustwo-ness.

This feels idea feels so important. If the key value of your support team, the people picking up the phones, in your business is around the customer happiness, but the software team don’t value the customer at all – there’s going to be a huge gap in culture and ultimately this will have a negative impact on the product.

3) You have to change to stay the same

The idea from Mills here is that; to keep the culture they wanted, they had to make some changes to their processes and structure as they grew.

For instance, having written processes in place which can help keep your clients informed on decisions feels mundane and ‘against the culture’ however if a key value for you is collaboration, then these written processes actually give you the freedom to grow and keep your team on the same page.

At the event, Neef also shared about ustwo Adventure’s new project; First Mile, A programme for first-time founders who are building businesses with creativity and values at their core.

They’re offering selected founders a chance to have 12 months mentorship and £10,000 cash to help them on their way.

Find our more at https://adventure.ustwo.com/first-mile/

Our next event is on the 26th March. We’ll be joined by Mandy, who’s a co-founder of the Dancing Man Brewery in Southampton and Katie Street, founder of Street Agency.

Together we can build something beautiful.

Let's Talk