October Startup Of The Month – M.Y.O.
Linkilaw has chosen M.Y.O. as Octobers Startup of the Month. Samuel and Diana created M.Y.O. as a creative studio for adults wanting a break from technology and an artistic outlet for their creativity.
The tech industry is a stressful place to be for creatives. Any work environment involves meeting tight deadlines, managing your time and multitasking, thus making the tech industry especially stressful.
Of the top 200 companies on Business Insider’s Best Employers list, tech companies were among the most stressful places to work. Business Insider and PayScale partnered to generate a “stress score” based on employees’ responses to the question “How stressful is your work environment? Intel scored 39%, eBay 36%, Apple 33% and Amazon 27% making up the most stressful work environments. Monster.com was recorded as the most stressful tech company, with 82% of employees reporting high-stress levels.
It’s no wonder that tech giants generate the most employee stress; there are high expectations, forced creativity and a struggle to maintain a work-life balance. It’s hard to find time to just switch off, forget about work demands and be mindful.
That’s where M.Y.O comes in.
Samuel Lehane and Diana Muendo started M.Y.O to inspire and relax professionals whilst enabling them to unlock the creativity that drives their passion for innovation. Through their extensive involvement in the startup sector and corporate environments (Samuel is still on the investment team at Virgin StartUp), Samuel and Diana recognised that it takes a creative mind to come up with solutions that disrupt industries. Yet, creatives within the tech industry often abandon creative pursuits not directly related to their position.
M.Y.O is a creative studio for adults, where you can “Make Your Own” ideas come to life through arts and crafts, regardless of experience, whilst enjoying the proven mindfulness benefits of being creative and being in a tech-free environment. Samuel himself isn’t a trained artist and started doing arts and crafts more in the past 6 months, but he immediately saw the benefits of having an outlet to just “get away from the stress of it all”.
At Linkilaw, our workspace offers similar clubs for tech professionals to come together and get involved in creative writing and arts and crafts. It’s a great way to forget about work and celebrate the creativity that is often suppressed by the demands and stress of the tech world. Everyone is creative, but not everyone finds the time and space to express their creativity. M.Y.O is the first startup exclusively dedicated to unleashing creatives’ artistic expression to aid in reducing stress whilst celebrating the importance of creativity in driving innovation on the startup scene.
M.Y.O offers a real mix of creative activities, in a fantastic tech-free studio that is priced well and flexibly (£10ph for a ‘Make Anything!’ session or £25+ for a more guided session on a specific activity). They also ensure you have all the materials, equipment and guidance you need, whilst ensuring people relax and enjoy themselves. You can do ceramic painting, hand-built ceramics, t-shirt/bag design with vinyl, decoupage, painting, life drawing, embroidery, jewellery making, paper crafts and more.
It’s a great way to get creative and clear your head for a couple of hours, whilst catching up with friends or family or just focusing on making something by yourself. It’s also a great way to meet and network with like-minded professionals in a relaxed and undemanding environment. They’re currently exploring ways of incorporating meditation into some of the sessions to emphasise the importance of mindfulness amidst a busy and stressful lifestyle. Getting your creative fix in an environment with no pressure and expectation will remind you why you became a tech creative and inspire you artistically to come up with your next great idea!
M.Y.O also allows group bookings so you can get creative together and promote teamwork and collaboration, which is essential for any thriving startup. M.Y.O describes the platform as “an art gym for your creative muscles”. This goes to the core of what M.Y.O’s founders were aiming for when they started; Samuel’s passion is helping other startups.
Samuel’s been keen to start a business for over 10 years, but it’s taken this long for the right idea and team to land. He’s looked at setting up a startup for a food & drinks subscription box business, afro Caribbean hair & beauty platform, an incubator for music makers, anything in renewables, blockchain and much more before settling on the idea behind M.Y.O. He started out working in restructuring and recovery services in KPMG, a big 4 accounting firm. There, he learned about project management, doing lots of different types of activities and dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Every day was different – from selling toilet seats one minute to sadly laying off an employee the next to drafting a report for the High Court!
Whilst Samuel learned a lot, he wanted to feel like he was contributing to society. So Samuel went on to volunteer full-time for a social enterprise called Camara Education in Dublin, to give back a little and get away from the doom and gloom of restructuring, whilst also learning more about business development. They provide digital literacy skills to children across Africa, helping them to get ahead and have helped millions of children so far (check them out at Camara.org).
That went well and they asked Samuel to set up their UK operations in London, which gave him his first taste of being his own boss. After that he decided to get more involved in the for-profit startup space, Virgin StartUp came calling. Over the last 2 years, he was part of the investment team there and also Head of Partnerships.
Dabbling with arts and crafts initially stemmed from wanting a bit of a stress relief from trying to find ‘the magical idea’ for my own business. Samuel, along with his girlfriend Diana, loved being creative so much, he decided to set up a business helping other adults do it also. Samuel likes doing the operational, business development and partnering side, whilst Diana loves social media, finance and coming up with new ideas.
Using their combined passions and skills, M.Y.O has gone from strength to strength. Aside from being Linkilaw’s startup of the month, they also managed to get over 500 followers on social media a couple of weeks into the startup with no expenditure. They’ve even booked sessions with big corporations like PWC and Breather and regularly enjoy repeat customers who have experienced the knock on benefits like better decision making, a more positive outlook on life and improved mental health. If you want to join the movement as an intern, drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and how you’d like to help.
Do you know a cool startup we should write about next time?