The founder of international relocation company, MOVE Guides, shares her experiences so far in getting a startup off the ground.
International relocation can be an exciting, yet daunting, prospect. Whether moving as an individual, or with a company, there are myriad factors to keep in mind when looking for a new home, office or job, not including sorting out official documentation to make citizenship valid. This was a frustration that MOVE Guides founder Brynne Herbert experienced on several occasions, as she moved around the world. Each move was time-consuming and left her stressed before she’d even arrived at her new home, prompting her to found MOVE Guides, which aims to make international relocation easier for individuals and businesses.
Brynne’s background lies in finance, having previously worked for Standard Chartered Bank and Lehman Brothers, first as an Analyst in Hong Kong and then as an Associate in Singapore. She set up MOVE Guides while she was studying for her MBA at London Business School in 2011, taking her experience of having to regularly relocate for work as a motivation. We caught up with Brynne to find out how her startup is faring since we last covered it.
1. Where did the idea for MOVE Guides come from?
I founded MOVE Guides because of the immense challenge I always found when moving around the world. MOVE Guides was born out of the personal pain that I always felt when moving to new cities – a similar challenge that I saw friends, colleagues and fellow expats experience! When I moved to London, I first lived in a sublet apartment with no hot water or internet, and at the same time had no bank account or mobile phone! In a moment of frustration one day, I asked my husband why it was so hard to plan an international move and so easy to plan international travel. He said I should change it…so I did! When I started looking at the market, I realised that the relocation industry was still very traditional and lacked modern enterprise software for HR. I decided there needed to be a way to introduce innovative technology and a strong customer focus to global mobility and employee relocation.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
The term “typical” doesn’t exist in a start-up founder’s vocabulary. I spend a lot of time on the phone or travelling to the US and throughout Europe speaking to suppliers, corporate partners, investors and potential new hires. Things are moving quickly and our expansion into international cities is growing rapidly! Most of my evenings are spent on the phone in the US (due to the time difference), which means Asia takes priority for my morning phone calls.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on MOVE Guides?
I work A LOT. However, I make it a point to squeeze in morning runs whenever I can and yoga on weekends. I’m an avid marathon runner and often find my best ideas come to me on runs. I also read the Financial Times and The Economist religiously. But the most important way I relax outside of the office is just by spending time with my husband!
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I don’t believe there is one single ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It takes a combination of many characteristics to be successful. What I can advise is that you need to be relentless and resilient…and absolutely focused on your vision. One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard is that “Great things happen when ordinary people become obsessed with something”. I think that pretty much sums up being an entrepreneur.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Constantly being asked how it feels to be a woman entrepreneur! At MOVE Guides, we are focused on transforming international relocation. We work exceptionally hard to create the best product and experience for our customers (be they HR professionals, suppliers or individuals moving), and that’s our sole focus….male or female!
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I believe that the world needs people with global capabilities to solve global problems. We live in a uniquely interdependent world, and we need people with the cross-cultural capabilities necessary to work together to improve society. Moving abroad and acquiring these networks and capabilities should be far easier than it is today…for both individuals and organisations. I always found it exciting and rewarding to move to new cities, but exceptionally difficult and inefficient. Our team is full of people who have moved and lived around the world, and experienced this pain. Every day, we get throngs of emails from others who have experienced the same challenges and are grateful for what we are doing at MOVE Guides. The mission to make moving as easy as travelling, and help ease the flow of capital and labour, keeps me going.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Without a doubt, I would have started recruiting for any position we had earlier. It’s very difficult to recruit great talent in today’s market and I think we underestimated that at points. We have an amazing team right now and I look forward to watching it grow!
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
MOVE Guides will help labour and capital flow more easily around the world. We will help organisations build global talent pools and benefit from the data about their talent pools to optimize staffing, career development and performance. We plan to be the leading HR technology software for global mobility departments in five years.
9. If you weren’t working on MOVE Guides, what would you be doing?
This is actually a common question at team drinks! I used to say that I’d love to be a writer, but I recently decided I’d actually prefer to work in space exploration!
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
My desk is the messiest in the office!
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be exceptionally passionate about your business and goal. Focus relentlessly on it and expect to work, hard! London’s start-up scene is booming and there are events, advisors and drinks a-plenty. Do not allow yourself to lose focus!
27th March 2013