Starting a lifelong project such as the creation of a company means finding the right people to share your ideas with. Over the years, we have found many of these unicorns, these “Right People,” to work with, and now we want to tell you all about our experience.
We’ll share the skills we developed, and our motivations over the last four years, and hopefully inspire you to choose to work with us on your next project! After four years of activity, it is time for you to know more about us!
ABOUT THE STUDIO
~ The Activities ~
Black Pug Studio is a multicultural start-up operating in all of Europe. We are a creative Studio divided into several departments that interact together in our projects:
First, there is our Design team. They take ownership of several activities in our production: from graphic, web, and print design, to UX and UI design. (User Experience is the study of user’s expectations and needs for the creation of a product in order to craft a unique experience; User Interface design systems include visual improvements to facilitate a user’s interaction with a product).
Our Technology team creates web, mobile, and software applications for our clients’ and our team’s use. They develop using a range of technologies built into custom stacks and frameworks that can fit any platform.
Finally, our Localization team takes care of the translation and proofreading of website, design, and text content into several languages (including English, French, German, Spanish, Irish).
“We do so many things that it’s hard to list all our activities and to categorize us!” adds Tony Moreno, Founder, Managing & Creative Director (CEO) of Black Pug Studio.
Currently, our team is working hard planning the launch of our long-overdue official website. Here, you will be able to visit our site to learn more about us, discover big surprises from our team, and see more of our latest projects. Keep a close eye on https://blackpugstudio.com/ for the big reveal, coming soon! (We look forward to seeing you there!)
~ The Clients ~
A wide range of clients ask for our services: from local businesses such as Rouge Galway Restaurant, and the Galway Technology Centre, to internationally established brands such as Promicea, Nestlé, Oxfam, Bank of Ireland, and more.
With each of our clients, we work on diverse, original, and fascinating projects. They allow us to surpass ourselves time and time again, and to enrich our teams’ skills and knowledge with each new project.
~ The Strengths ~
Our teams are continuously listening to our clients’ needs, and they work hard to stay up to date with the latest modern trends to accommodate each project and fit their requirements.
To provide quality content, we use state-of-the-art technologies in our development stack. For instance, many development projects use Vue.JS, Firebase, Google Cloud, AWS, and more, allowing us to deploy micro-services and scalable architectures tailored to work with all kinds of projects. As for the design, we know a project is particularly successful at capturing the client’s requirements, by transforming and consolidating their initial concept into a robust visual experience. We approach each project with excitement and enthusiasm!
“We have a wide range of skills and capabilities allowing us to accompany a client from the beginning of a project to its release,” asserts Tony.
“What allows us to be effective is also the attention to detail, the passion we put into our work,” says Julien Garrigues, Director of Technology and co-founder of Black Pug Studio.
~ The Advisors ~
The Advisors who have been with us since the beginning have been essential to our success. They regularly give their opinions anytime we need them, and for any project. We are lucky to be an active member of the Galway Technology Centre community, and the proximity to other budding start-ups and SME’s helps create strong bonds and relationships with our co-workers.
Among our closest neighbors in the GTC are Connacht Accountancy, who manages the Studio’s finances; Keltie, who offer advice and direction to protect the Studio’s intellectual properties; and Flynn O’Driscoll, who act as our legal advisor.
In addition to these companies, we sometimes call upon sub-contractors, depending on the workload and time constraints of a project, the specifics of a client’s request, or even for photography to complement visual content creation.
We have worked with amazing and talented photographers across many projects. Liam Carroll (featured in National Geographic), has been a photographer for more than 15 years, and Anita McGarry, is a passionate photographer, foodie, and traveler.
As for design, Sheena Oosten, web designer, and Niall Warde have collaborated on previous Studio projects.
It’s true that we have a precise method of work at the Studio, and generally, we opt to keep a given job within the Studio, in the capable hands of our production team. Our advisors are undeniably helpful, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their fantastic support and help over the last four incredible years.
~ The Challenges ~
The path of an entrepreneur is long, full of obstacles, learning opportunities, failures, and successes. Since the creation of the Studio almost four years ago, several challenges have presented themselves to us, giving us a chance to hone our skills, learn from past mistakes, and challenging us to think differently.
The first challenge for an entrepreneur is the ever-present and endless list of tasks to complete. Multiple areas of expertise unfold before the bright-eyed devotee: legal, human resources, accounting, management, communication, marketing; and more.
“We rapidly realized that we didn’t know how to do everything, and we had to learn… quickly!” says Tony.
The risk of burn-out is always looming; it can happen so quickly, and you have to protect yourself and your team from it by setting boundaries and scheduling time aside to detach and recharge the battery. We had to surround ourselves with the right people, to find experienced, talented, and motivated people to form our team. In a start-up, each person must be able to juggle between different roles and consequently show resilience when faced with pressure, and the freedom of work is unique and unrivaled in any other kind of office.
“There are professional and personal qualities necessary to work in a start-up: autonomy, the ability to learn quickly, to adapt, to accept a sense of responsibility, patience, communication skills, passion…” adds Julien.
It is difficult to sell your work for its real value: clients who operate outside of the digital industry struggle to understand the worth of what they need for their business. It is necessary to be clear and accurate in your rates to explain the work behind each project. It is essential to convey and adapt the Studio’s message to a wide variety of clients who want to work with us.
During the early days of the Studio, the desire to accept all projects was challenging to manage. It was crucial defining a framework, contracts, legal protections for ourselves and our clients, which led us to surround ourselves with the different advisors that have played an essential role in our journey. It is imperative not to overload yourselves, and to focus only on a few projects at a time without dividing the attention of the team unnecessarily, prioritizing the quality of creation. We define the conditions and terms of the projects with our clients, searching for a fair and clear breakdown that preserves everyone’s best interests.
Every project is different and leads us to surpass our previous selves, to learn, and to understand new information that is vital to the growth of the Studio.
~ The Successes ~
Strong of those learning experiences and rewarding moments, we now feel ready and confident to succeed in all our endeavors, not immediately, but with dedicated, hard work, and we love what we do even more.
The Studio is growing, and after almost four years of motion, we are delighted to be here and moving forward with our plans.
“In each of our projects, we feel that we facilitate our clients’ daily work and provide them with the help they truly need, which brings real satisfaction for us and recognition of our work,” says Julien.
We enjoy working on all of our projects as they bring opportunities to learn new skills and gain knowledge; each distinct project is varied and exciting.
“The last project will always be better than the one before because there will always be this little something extra that we learned before,” Tony adds.
Our clients are in constant need of additional work. Their loyalty and trust is a real motivating factor for us, and these are essential to building a strong team. When there are many of us, there is a great team synergy, a good atmosphere, a festival of ideas. All this success delivers a promising and more exciting future for the Studio.
~ The Future ~
To continue developing Black Pug Studio today, we are looking to build a reliable and dedicated team. Reflecting on our experiences with hindsight on our side, we now know the ideal profile that our team and Studio needs to continue expanding, and the type of clients we want to reach out to and work with, and we know how to introduce and pitch our services and products.
“Our goal is to grow the team, to aim higher, to continue working with prestigious clients while continuing to express our creativity in design and technology. We also want to promote progressive values, such as cultural diversity, acceptance of all kinds, while being a part of the cool company culture in which we feel most comfortable working,” Julien claims.
“Cultural differences bring different perspectives, let’s enrich ourselves from our differences,” says Tony.
We also need to focus on our internal projects, maybe a podcast for the Studio. (What do you think?) Expect several surprises in the coming months. Follow our stories on social media where all will be revealed as time goes by. Remember, BIG IDEAS START SMALL!
Now that we have reviewed the activities of the Studio, let’s take a closer look at the topic of entrepreneurship and where it all began.
~ The Members ~
As key members of the dynamic team of the Studio, we have five pugs:
Tony Moreno. Founder, Managing & Creative Director (CEO). But also, a designer, manager, business developer, communication and social media manager, project manager, UI/UX designer… (Yes, there are many roles!)
Tony studied science and astrophysics, then 2D and 3D CG Art for Broadcast and Video Games in France. His studies resulted in a diploma in Web Design and Illustration and an English Diploma before he moved on to a first internship at Titus Interactive as a video game tester, acting as a first step into the digital world. Soon after, Tony joined Blizzard Entertainment in 2006 as an Online Community Representative. In October 2008, Tony joined Spellborn B.V. to work on The Chronicles of Spellborn based in The Hague, Netherlands. Next Tony became Community Manager in Amsterdam for Perfect World Entertainment Europe. In 2011, Tony joined BioWare to work on the game critically acclaimed MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, moving to Ireland for the role where he eventually settled and founded Black Pug Studio Ltd. in April 2015, in Galway.
Julien Garrigues. Director of Technology, developer covering the areas of integration, front-end, back-end, cloud, infrastructure, and documentation.
Deirdre O’Connor. Head of Localization and Natural Language Processing, former Technical Project Manager and Junior Developer.
Deirdre joined the Studio in 2016, first as a front-end developer and later her role transitioned into that of a technical project manager where tasks were very often client-facing. After a brief educational break, while studying Computer Science in university, she re-joined the team’s localization department working with French and Irish clients and translating entire websites or more often smaller projects in three languages.
Tiphaine Di Valentin. Shareholder of Black Pug Studio.
Tony and Tiphaine met ten years ago and immediately got along thanks to their common interests: gaming and design. Later on, when Tony was about to create Black Pug Studio and was looking for an associate, he naturally turned to her, once again proving his trust, friendship, and confidence in her professional abilities. Tiphaine is a Print Artist that studied Graphic Design in Paris for 5 years. Always interested in digital communication and game design, Tiphaine contributed to several projects early on but took more of a decisional role in the board of directors since.
“I was more than happy to follow him in this adventure, and here we are now! To me, Black Pug Studio is a lot more than a company; it’s the story of how our friendship bloomed into a beautiful professional partnership!” reveals Tiphaine.
Alexia Tulumello. Associate Communication Manager on internship (and author of this article).
After graduating with a professional degree in networks and telecommunications in France, Alexia joined the Studio is 2019 as part of an Erasmus+ internship. Her work with the Studio granted her the opportunity to explore the field of marketing and communication in tech, which was previously an area of interest for her. Her placement enabled her to reach her full potential as a dynamic and creative personality and presented the opportunity to discover and train in these fields in a uniquely challenging and rewarding environment.
Special mention: Leighvi, Mathilde, Michelle, Clare, Jake, Kinley, Katie, Richie, Isabella, Christophe, Annmarie, Tom, Alexia, Youri, Anne-Lyne, and all our previous pugs.
Thank you for the experience and fun you brought to our team!
~ The Path of our Entrepreneurs ~
The story of Black Pug Studio is quite an adventure. Let me share this magical journey with you.
It all started in 2009, in the fantastic game of World of Warcraft. Julien, a young paladin, joined Tony’s guild — the Deadly Panda Squad (DPS). After many fights hand-in-hand, on the back of Gryphons, across the seven continents of Azeroth, a beautiful and robust friendship was born.
After a few years of online gaming, in 2014, Julien received a proposal from a former colleague who was founding a company in France and needed a web application. Julien, who had already started on his path in the world of web development then accepted his proposal, without question, bringing Tony on-board as an outstanding designer (who had not practiced design in ten years). Julien strongly believed that combining his skills and Tony’s would prove to be a great opportunity to make “something great happen.”
As might have been expected, their first project was supposed to last 2–3 months, and while the duo first learned how to work together, it consequently lasted over six months! Indeed, they lacked a little experience (Ahh, the enthusiasm of the young…)
At that time, Julien and Tony had never met in person. Remember, their previous interaction had all taken place online! In 2014, the real introduction took place in France, simultaneous with their first client meeting. Now, it was clearly time to set up the company and choose an official brand name!
It was Tiphaine who gave the idea to integrate the word “Pug,” following the discovery of a funny video of a bouncing pug online. Tony, for his part, wanted to add the word “Black,” a color representing elegance. This formed “Black Pug Studio,” the name by which the Studio is known today. The logo took many iterations before the perfect version was found with more than 45 iterations before all agreed on a simple and refined design that would spark curiosity and high interest.
Thus, Black Pug Studio was born on April 10th, 2015 in Galway.
Trivia: They didn’t foresee that people might have troubles to understand the name of the company when pronounced. In fact, at the very beginning, they had to correct people who wrote Black Pub Studio. We don’t sell even though we have a special appreciation for craft beer in Galway!
~ The Last Word ~
“Being an entrepreneur means knowing how to seize an opportunity. Have faith in yourself, in your skills, in the skills of others. You should never be afraid to make mistakes because it happens. It’s hard, it’s an ongoing lifestyle, and the results depend on your investment as an individual. Each step must serve to grow the company.” — Julien Garrigues.
It is our origin story, and it is only the beginning.
We thank you for taking the time to read our story, and we are happy to have been able to share our fantastic adventure with you.
- Black Pug Studio Team
Black Pug Studio — Our story so far was originally published in Creative by Black Pug Studio on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.