Notable Team of the Week: Mogo

It’s no secret that exceptional work stems from the power of collaboration. So in addition to featuring notable young professionals and entrepreneurs every single day, we’ll be chatting to some of Canada’s best teams every Thursday to get an inside look at how they combine talents to stand out in their industry. Today we’re talking to the product team behind Mogo in Vancouver…

Describe what you and your team focus on in less than 140 characters. Go.
Mogo is focused on building the best digital banking experience with innovative solutions for the next generation of Canadians.

What kick-ass projects / programs have you been working on recently?
We just launched the new MogoAccount and iOS mobile app. Unlike any bank or credit union in Canada, you can sign up for an account in under three minutes right from the app, or any web device, and you get your free credit score with free monthly updates; a free spending account, accessible through our MogoCard—a Platinum Prepaid Visa® Card with no monthly fees; and an instant pre-approval on a personal loan, if you need it. You get all this for free with absolutely no impact to your credit score.

What are some of the benefits of working on a team?
Working on a team is one thing, but working on a team of passionate innovators dedicated to changing the face of banking in Canada is another. In our space, innovation has been slow. The pace of change and improvements to financial products and user experiences in other industries has dramatically outpaced that of the financial world.

Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds, mostly in the technology space, but also financial institutions where bureaucracy and lack of vision drove them to find a better way to do things. Financial products are inherently complex and have a lot of moving parts. One of the coolest things about the problem we’re trying to solve is the amount of exposure our product team gets to subject matter experts in departments like credit risk and business intelligence.

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What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? 
One Friday, the beer keg at the office ran out of CO2. One of our dedicated mobile app developers volunteered to hold it above his head all night, letting gravity take its course.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals working within a team?
Focus your time on building meaningful relationships. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if nobody wants to work with you, that doesn’t matter.

Does your team have a designated leader?
Mogo has a pretty flat structure. On the product team, everybody has to be a leader. At its core, product people are responsible for leading the team through our roadmap that delivers on our vision. We have some very strong leaders who are passionate about creating a world-class product team and process.

Within your organization, are teams switched up every once in a while or do they maintain the same? What are some of the benefits and cons of that?
We have a team of 300 people across Canada, with 100 experts on the product and platform team alone. We’ve grown a lot over the last few years, and with growth, there is definitely change which requires our teams to be flexible. The benefit to being a flexible workplace is that we’re all working toward the same goal, so we all wear whatever hat we need to to get the job done.

What does the word collaboration mean to you?
Late nights in Asana and Pivotal Tracker. Just kidding, sort of. Collaboration is key to our product process. With all the moving parts of financial solutions, you simply can’t deliver a product to the market without considering requirements from all the stakeholders. The hardest part about collaboration is really communication and context. To maintain healthy relationships and build a strong product, you have to spend the time explaining the big picture in order to get teams to buy in to the process and, ultimately, the decisions that drive the development of the product.

What has been you and your teams favourite project/campaign/initiative to work on and why?
The MogoApp. We spent a long time working on developing our mobile app, but in the end it was worth it. The user experience is killer, initial feedback has been great and all my friends and family downloaded it without me asking. There’s something to be said for that.

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Where is your team’s favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Nook—hands down. Salami and Olive Pizza and Rigatoni Boscaiola Pasta FTW. Great value and service.

Do you and your team go out together? Where and why?
We mostly hang at the office on Friday’s – order food, drink beer and brainstorm about our next move.

What’s the best thing that has happened to you and your team recently?
Free credit score with free monthly updates was pretty huge. The majority of Canadians don’t know their score and it really is your letter grade on your financial report card. We’re expecting big things from the new product.

Are there any other teams within your company or any company that you know of that are killing it?
Oh, for sure. The reality in our agile development process is that any weak link holds us from delivering a product so if we’re not all killing it, we have problems. We have some really solid momentum that we’ve created over the last few months from shipping the MogoApp.

And finally, what does success look like to you and your team? Work, play, or otherwise…
ONE MILLION users is what we’re working towards now. We’re about a quarter of the way there at 225,000 members so we have a lot of work to do, but our plan to get there is inspiring.