At 14, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, and that hasn’t really changed. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of what companies can do. They create value, they create a product, as well as becoming an entity and being. I knew I wanted to be my own boss and I felt a drive to create brands.
It’s easy to spend clients’ money but I’ve always loved the idea of being involved from the beginning. This is something that I have continuously explored. Alongside being chief executive of PR shop PrettyGreen and experiential agency The Producers, I have an absinthe brand called La Maison Fontaine and was involved in a dog food business.
When Greg Gormley, founder of loyalty app Bink, approached me with his idea for a lift-sharing app, Skoot, I immediately felt that it was really interesting.
The Skoot app links friends, and then maps the best travel route while enabling the automatic collection of payment for petrol and running costs. In our first six weeks, we delivered more rides than Uber did in its first six weeks. The journey is carbon offset, as a tree is planted for every three rides taken. We have planted more than 10,000 trees to date and by September we expect to have planted well over 25,000. As a response to Covid-19, an errands function has been added, so friends can connect and help each other by fulfilling tasks such as dropping an item at the Post Office.
I care and Greg cares: we’ve paid a lot of attention to brand purpose. Maybe it’s because we’ve got kids now and have been through various iterations of our careers. I now have a sense of wanting to do some good while building a business that is also incredibly successful.
This process has helped me embrace the excitement of the unknown – sitting down with blank sheets of paper and creating something from scratch. It’s been amazing to learn about the world of apps, how to build them and also how frustrating they are. We now have 17 people working full-time on Skoot, all recruited during lockdown and fully remote.
Overall, it doesn’t feel like work and I just feel like I’m the luckiest guy to be playing every day.
Mark Stringer is co-founder of Skoot and chief executive of PrettyGreen and The Producers
As told to Fayola Douglas