Can you tell us about MOVE Guides.
Founded in 2011, MOVE Guides makes it easy for companies, governments, universities and other institutions to move their talent around the world. Our award-winning Talent Mobility Cloud is the first cloud application to combine employee move planning, company mobility management and global vendors across more than 150 locations, to deliver dramatically improved employee experience and efficiencies.
Where did the idea for MOVE Guides come from?
My idea for MOVE Guides was born after I had a challenging experience moving from Asia to London to start my MBA programme at London Business School. After arriving to an apartment with no running water and no Internet, I was determined to create a service that made it easy and delightful for employees to move around the world. Improving employee satisfaction has always been the core value of MOVE Guides’ mobility experience and has since evolved to a full enterprise technology platform that supports HR, recruiting, global mobility and finance teams.
Move Guides has just raised $8.2 million in funding, and in the past has raised just over $2.4 million (including $1.8 million raised from both NEA and Notion Capital along with a number of angel investors, including serial entrepreneurs and investors Sherry Coutu, Tom Hulme, Sean Park, Dale Murray and Kevin Eyres.) This is incredibly impressive to say the least. Many of our readers wouldn’t know how to go about getting investment for their business idea.
How did you go about raising £400,000 of seed funding whilst still at business school?
We raised a £400K angel round in 2012 from European angel investors, such as Sherry Coutu, CBE, Dale Murray, CBE, Tom Hulme, Sean Park and Kevin Eyres. I had a very tactical approach to this fundraising. I researched extensively and located the people that I felt could contribute best to MOVE Guides. Then I leveraged my networks to get introductions to them, and thankfully, they liked the MOVE Guides story and invested!
At what stage of your business did you secure your first round of funding? Had you already launched your business or did you just have an idea?
We raised our first round of angel investment quite early. We had a prototype of our product and some early market proof points. This is very common – businesses often will raise angel investment before raising venture capital funding, so that they can execute key early milestones like signing up the first customers, building the team and completing product development milestones.
Initially, when securing the seed funding, did you have an investment advisor to talk you through the process?
No. I absolutely do not think that you need a business advisor to raise capital. There are many accessible resources (books, blogs, etc) where you can learn how to raise capital. I think it’s important to invest the time to learn it yourself to be credible with investors and succeed in fundraising. This will pay massive dividends over the long term.
How were you put in contact with experienced investors such as Sherry Coutu?
I spent time building a strong network before I started speaking to investors. It’s important to have personal introductions to experienced investors, so before that, it’s important to have a strong network for introductions. I also used the London Business School network a lot in the process, which was a great benefit.
Once you received the funds, did you have to report back on how you were spending it?
When you take external capital, you have a responsibility to your shareholders (often represented by your Board). This responsibility includes reporting on financials, operations and progress on key initiatives during regular board meetings. The format and frequency of this communication will vary by company and investor, but you should expect it as a part of working with external investors.
How difficult was it to get them to invest in you and your idea?
At MOVE Guides, we find that people who have moved themselves really relate to what we are doing and to the pain we are solving. In this context, it was relatively straight-forward to generate interest in MOVE Guides. That being said, it is critical to have a strong understanding of your market, business model and strategy and proof that your business idea has traction.
Have you still been able to remain at the helm after such a huge investment, or have you brought people in to drive your business idea forward?
There are two critical components to leading a great company through the different stages of growth: (1) building a great team and (2) continuously learning throughout the process. We have an amazing team at MOVE Guides, who are all great at what they do. We invest a lot of time in identifying and attracting top talent and then helping each of them grow through the journey. For me, continuously learning about leadership and growth is a critical part of being the CEO of MOVE Guides. Of course, immense focus, tenacity and reliance also come as a given.
What is the most challenging thing about securing investment (particularly in the early stages)?
Raising capital is hard, and always will be. You have to convince people to invest in an unproven idea. MOVE Guides is not a “me-too” business, like so many start-ups today. We are defining and creating a market, product and brand, with very few parallels. Our business model is unique, our market is unique and our global operations are unique. It is challenging to convince people to come on this journey with you, but we have always had strong proof points during and before funding rounds, which made it easier to raise capital. And we have been very skilled at identifying the right investors for our business – like Notion Capital and NEA.
What advice can you offer to those that are thinking about getting funding to drive their business forward?
Brace yourself because it will not be easy. Be prepared to answer a thousand questions about your product and learn not to take constructive criticism personally. People will try to rip your business a part so it is so important to have passion for your product and be tenacious!
How will Move Guides be evolving with this new round of funding?
Our round will be used to rapidly accelerate MOVE Guides’ growth. This includes hiring new staff, accelerating product development and building partnerships with new clients. We expect to raise a Series B round in 12-18 months once these milestones are hit.