Brynne Herbert is the Founder & CEO of MOVE Guides. The startup offers individuals a one-stop-shop for international relocation and businesses a cloud-based relocation portal for employee moves.
Hi Brynne, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I am good, thank you. Very busy, as always, but things are going really well at MOVE Guides!
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I am originally from the United States, where I grew up as an elite gymnast training 30 hours per week and competing throughout the country! I learned Chinese at university and then immediately after, started working in finance in Asia. I worked in investment banking and real estate private equity with stints living in Hong Kong, Singapore and India.
It was a great experience, but I always knew I wanted to do more, so I came to London to do my MBA at London Business School. Taking into consideration the challenges I had encountered through my multiple international moves and the skills I learned in my MBA, I decided to found MOVE Guides to transform international mobility for companies and individuals!
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I founded MOVE Guides because of the great challenge I always found moving around the world. I love learning about new cultures and cities (and I think you learn much more professionally by moving than just traveling!), but it was always a logistical challenge. The relocation industry is still very traditional and I felt like there was a way to use technology to make it easy, fun and exciting again. As I started looking into it more, I realized that there are also a lot of changes happening in the corporate sector.
I founded MOVE Guides, recruited our founding team and raised a £400K seed round all while doing my MBA at LBS. It was a crazy time, but one that continues to be so gratifying every day!
How did the idea for MOVE Guides come about?
It was born out of personal pain and market need….the perfect combo for a startup, in my opinion!
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
As I mentioned, I founded MOVE Guides, recruited our founding team and raised a £400K seed round all while doing my MBA at LBS. It was extremely difficult to juggle everything, but actually, probably the best training ground for juggling everything as the CEO of a high-growth startup! As a company, we found recruiting very challenging. Our team is absolutely amazing and everyone is working exceptionally hard to transform relocation. Sometimes, it can be hard to find other people to add who are really ready to work as hard as we do and be so focused on a collective goal.
What is MOVE Guides? And what are you trying to solve with it?
MOVE Guides offers individuals a one-stop-shop for international relocation and businesses a cloud-based relocation portal for employee moves. Our enterprise product helps companies’ global mobility departments lower costs, benefit from unique data and analytics, and support employees moving with lump sums.
For individuals, we are trying to bring an easier and more transparent moving process to the market. For companies, we are helping them optimize policy and serve their globally mobile employees as consumers
How have you been able to fund it?
In July, we raised £400K in seed funding from some of London’s top angel investors, including Sherry Coutu (LinkedIn, Care.com, SV2UK), Kevin Eyres (LinkedIn), Tom Hulme (Tech City Advisor, IDEO), Dale Murray (British Angel Investor of the Year) and Alex Viall (Complinet).
What sorts of advice do you having for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their startups?
Expect to work hard and be resilient! That goes for all parts of a startup, but fundraising certainly requires a unique amount of tenacity and dedication to a goal. It’s a bit like elite athletics really, but with some finance and technical knowledge thrown in. Also, prepare ruthlessly!
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
Things are constantly really exciting! We have so many things going on and every single day is a bit like Formula One race, in a good way. I am so proud of our team and everything we have accomplished in just six months since the round.
How did you initially get traction?
We have received a really positive response to our product from both businesses and individuals. At the end of the day, the quality of the customer experience (product and customer service) is what drives word of mouth referrals and traction.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
I think that three things are particularly critical to growing an early-stage business:
1. Relentless focus on the customer – Everyone on our team is exposed to customers and we put a large emphasis on customer experience, from the product to answering questions to customer research.
2. Strategic Partnerships – At an early stage, you do not have the resources to grow everything directly. Strategic partnerships are critical and negotiating and building these is a big part of growing.
3. Team – This is probably the most important thing. One of my favourite quotes is that “great things happen when normal people become obsessed with something.” For me, however, great things happen when exceptional people become obsessed with something. Everyone on our team is exceptional. We are fiercely loyal to each other and the business, and we all work collectively toward a goal.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The highlight has been closing our seed round and closing our first big account. These are both such a testament to the team and quality of product we’re developing and it’s great to see.
What should we be expecting from yourself and MOVE Guides team for 2013?
MOVE Guides has lots of things up its sleeves! We are rolling out into new geographies and with new partners and continually adding features to our product. Stay tuned!
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Be exceptionally passionate about you’re business and goal. Focus relentlessly on it and don’t expect to have much of a personal life for the first year!