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‘Dad Jokes’ – An interview with the team at Huggg

One of the things we love most about working in Runway East is we are constantly rubbing shoulders with mega talented techies, often from awesome, game-changing companies…

None more exciting than our next door neighbours (+1) huggg!

huggg make spreading happiness about as easy as it can be. Their product enables the sending (and receiving) of treats from coffees to cocktails, cinema tickets to ice cream. It’s awesome. If you don’t have the app – download it now!!

Paul’s built a great team since launching and I caught up with a few of the ladies and him to run through their careers and what life is like at huggg.

Follow on social:

Twitter: @huggg_uk

Instagram: @huggg_uk

Meet the team

Olivia Red O’Brien – PR + Communications Manager.

Caragh Jones – Partner Communications.

Claire Sharpe – Community Manager.

Becky Smith – B2B Strategist.

Ashley Porciuncula – VP Product.

Paul Wickers – Founder & CEO.

Paul, Forbes listed Huggg one start-up to watch for 2019, could you tell us a bit about the company?

huggg is a platform which enables friends to send real things to one another, in messages.

So, imagine your friend is having a bad day and you want to cheer them up. You can use huggg to send them a coffee, cake or cinema ticket emoji, which means you just paid for them to walk next door and pick up the real thing.

It’s like a message, sprinkled with a touch of magic.

You spent years in financial services, where did the idea of huggg come from?

The idea came, whilst I was at work. I was researching the greeting card market for a project, and wondering if we do everything – from finding a spouse to heating our homes – from the comfort of our very own smartphones, why can’t we do the same for a real-life cup of coffee, cocktail or cupcake?

The rest, as they say, is history!

You have grown very quickly and built an amazingly diverse team … how have you done this?

We guide everything by one simple principle – do the right thing.  So when it comes to hiring, we don’t just pay lip service to diversity, we try to make a point of making sure that we root out any prejudice in the way that we hire.

So, for example, we run the job ads through software that spots for language that injects unconscious bias.  And we place our diversity language at the very top of our job ads, not at the bottom, to make a statement as to its importance.

It would be impossible for us to build a mass-appeal product without understanding all corners of our audience, so diversity is key in helping us to do that, but, honestly, that’s not the driver.

What is your greatest strength?

Holding huge quantities of detail and logic in my head and being able to recall and apply it fast.

What is your greatest weakness?

Not being able to keep bad jokes from somehow finding their way out of my mouth.

What’s next for huggg?

We are about to, simultaneously, launch national supply, undertake our first integrations into other people’s audiences and undertake some large B2B projects.  Doesn’t sound stressful at all.

Who’s your squad?

That’s not fair.  I have a wife and 4 children for a start, so I’m screwed whichever way I answer that!

What’s your favourite quote?

”That really low one we got when we had our windows done”

Thanks Paul, love the business and your dad jokes!

Ladies, huggg have a really diverse team. How do you think this has benefitted your role or the business?

Olivia:  Having a team made up of people of all genders, backgrounds and ethnicities is so important to us at huggg. If you don’t enrich your workplace with diversity and varied experience, you’ll end up limiting your business and excluding audiences without even realising it. We want to talk to everyone and get the whole world huggging – and in order to do that we need to listen to as many voices as we can.

Caragh: When you’re working on a new product or communicating something new to the world, diversity of feedback and ideas is so important. And how has it benefited me or my role? Well, I love  the team I work in and learn new things from them everyday. If you’ve not gained a new perspective or learnt something from your team members in a while, you probably need to switch things up a bit…

Claire:  I’m lucky in my role at huggg. I get to speak not only to our wide range of users, but also the entire team either to feedback thoughts from users, or ask their opinion on suggested features. Having such a wide range of opinions to draw from really makes my life a lot easier and gives me the chance to reconsider my own position on things. Plus it just makes for a fun office and really good lunchtime chat.

Becky: The diversity of the huggg team has helped me in my role, as our different job experiences and skills complement each other, so there’s always useful insights and opinions to make the most of.
It also helps huggg meet our users needs because our diverse life experiences ensures we can relate to more of our users, whether it’s Millennials, mums, marketers or managers.

Ashley: We don’t see diversity as a nice-to-have or a luxury. It’s a requirement to build a product that speaks to people, and a team where everyone is invested. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to bring more voices and experiences into the team, and therefore into the apps that we’re building, because we know that it’s the only way to build something that people love.

What is your focus at work going to be on for the next couple of months?

Olivia: Continuing to get huggg into the pockets of kind, generous and thoughtful humans – and making sure they love it when they do have it.

Caragh: Partner marketing! So that means working closely with our amazing partners to help them market their products, build an engaged community of hugggers and have fun whilst doing it.

Claire: The next couple of months is a REALLY long time at huggg. We work in 2 week sprints and priorities can change so fast. My priorities will always be talking to our brilliant community and looking after our very special power hugggers

Becky: Preparing huggg go to market strategy for using huggg within business, for customers and employees.

Ashley: We will continue to add new features and products into our main mobile app, and have a lot happening under the surface with our API. We’re also looking to build out the team with more developers to help us keep up with all of the amazing ideas in our backlog.

Who’s your Squad?

Olivia: I know too many amazing women to choose, so I’ll go for one from each category: I couldn’t live without my bestie Jess, my mama Charlene and the dulcet tones and general greatness of Queen Florence Welch.

Caragh:  Emily Coxhead (because everyone needs happy news in their life), The Black Madonna (Sashay away!), Natasha Bedingfield (release you inhibitions I hope you’re all singing it now)

Claire: Lex Lethal (roller derby buddy), my not so little sister Sarah and Baddie Winkle. Serena Williams will be on standby though. That’s one hell of a squad!

Becky: Ali, Helen, Katie, Ana (not 3 but I can’t exclude the 4th member of my squad)!

Ashley: My partner, Daniel, who is always there to support me in every way, no matter what. Olivia, our PR and Communications manager, who I can put 100% of my trust into. She knocks it out of the park every time! And Helen Mirren, who I very much want to be when I grow up, because she is the epitome of confidence and speaking her truth.

Favourite quotes!

Olivia: ” …But what if it all goes right?”

Caragh: ”Busy people get more done”

Claire: ”I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life…. if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be”. – Roald Dahl

Becky: ”In this life we will never be  apart, for we grew to the same beat of our mothers heart”.

Ashley: ”Know what? Bitches get stuff done.” – Tina Fey

Thank you so much Ladies, you are all amazing keep rocking!

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