This week’s Founder Talks series features Brynne Herbert, CEO and Founder of MOVE Guides. Read on as she talks self confidence, not taking things personally, and the journey to creating an award-winning global mobility solution.
Tell us about MOVE Guides.
MOVE Guides envisions a world where moving global talent is easy. Partnering with companies to make this a reality, MOVE Guides offers the first ever cloud-based technology system for the $50bn talent mobility industry dominated by traditional offline incumbents.
Our unique Talent Mobility Cloud is a tri-sided, transformational HR technology platform that combines employee move planning, HR management and global vendors to deliver a dramatically improved employee experience and millions of dollars in cost savings to companies.
What inspired you to start MOVE Guides?
Before starting MOVE Guides, I lived throughout Asia and India. I gained a unique understanding of global talent in multinational companies. As an expat on the move, I would constantly watch my friends and colleagues navigate the same cumbersome and exhausting relocation challenges.
After an extremely painful move from Asia to London, I realised that a massive gap in the global mobility industry was an opportunity to disrupt the marketplace. I was determined to create the first ever HR technology service for global mobility that appealed to increasingly global companies, a changing employee demographic and a tech savvy workforce.
What have been your biggest challenge being a woman in an industry driven by men?
It frustrates me that more times than not, I will look around a 50-100 person room and realise that I am one out of four women there to pitch their business or meet with VC funders. When completing my first round of funding I actually had someone say to me that they would not fund me because I was a woman led tech startup. Sadly this happens a lot. Only 4.2% of businesses that receive VC funding are female led. While this didn’t stop me, I am sure this discourages many women from following through with their startup.
What do you think can be done to bring more women into tech?
SV not only has a demographic problem but a culture problem. I believe that as more women break through into the tech industry, more will follow to challenge the status quo and change culture to be much more woman friendly. Society also needs to play a bigger role in encouraging young women to enter STEM programs and seek higher education that provides them with the skills they need to succeed in SV. I love groups like Girls in Tech and Girls Who Code that empower girls to seek opportunities in tech and engineering.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments in your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Over the past two years, my team and I have grown MOVE Guides from a small London-based startup to an award-winning global mobility solution, supporting moves to 100+ cities across six continents. This in itself is an incredible accomplishment and is a true testament to the quality of our services, an understanding of the marketplace and the dedicated team behind MOVE Guides.
One of my proudest moments along this journey was when we closed our seed-funding round from Notion Capital and NEA, bringing our total funding to $2.4 million. This was a huge accomplishment and provided us with the resources and expertise that we needed to accelerate growth and be a champion in global mobility. Also, this year we were very excited to be featured by Startup.co.uk as one of the top 100 new businesses in London. They even quoted us as “the group that make relocating more like taking a holiday.”
How do you describe your leadership style?
I am very direct with my team and believe that transparency is the best way to approach a successful business. I try to lead confidently and assertively, which I think is important for companies like MOVE Guides, that are still in the early stages of success. I run a company with only 15 employees and sell to FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies that have never heard of us and have never even heard of the category that we sell in. This type of disruption in the marketplace requires direct communications and a strong voice to get people behind it.
If you could be anything other than the CEO of MOVE Guides what would it be?
I absolutely love to travel, meet new people and experience new cultures, so it would have to be something that spanned across cities, languages and continents. I would probably look into opening a chain of hotels around the world or develop an app that supports world travellers.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
When I was 18, I was a member of the Ivy League Championship gymnastics team, always on the move and competing. My experiences in gymnastics really shaped my work ethic and drive. That said, if I were to go back in time and talk to my 18 year old self, I would tell her that there is so much more ahead of you and that the best is yet to come. Savour your time and independence in college and don’t forget to have fun!
What advice would you give to women interested in starting a new business?
If you see a void in the marketplace, don’t wait for someone else to fill it. Be self-confident, believe in your product and fight for it.
Also, don’t take things personally. People are going to challenge your every move and try to bring you down. You need to be strong and be able to compartmentalise emotions, tune out those that do not support you but learn to accept and appreciate constructive criticise.