Today London-based MOVE Guides announced it has raised £400,000 in funding from several angel investors for its web and mobile platform, which provides resources for people relocating to cities around the world. The company has several iOS apps, launched in September 2011 and aimed at helping people relocate to New York City, London, San Francisco, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Today the company is opening up its web platform in private alpha, which will offer similar resources to the mobile app as well as a Q&A component, with a public launch planned for the end of the summer.
Founder Brynne Herbert, a former investment banker, said the funding will go to building out the company’s web platform. “It’s predominantly going to be used for finishing product development, finishing the technology platform, and for hiring,” she said in an interview. Herbert grew up in the U.S. and has lived in six cities including Hong Kong and London. She said each time she moved it was a hassle to find suppliers and resources in the new city, and created MOVE Guides as a way to ease international moves. “We thought that we could definitely make it easier, social and cheaper.”
Users can sign up for the private alpha by specifying where they’re moving from, where they’re moving to, and the reason (work, graduate school, family, or other). The platform will then provides resources for the new destination – local information, a way to find suppliers and book services, and plan and organize tasks associated with moving. The mobile apps offer similar functionality: each one has nine categories which include how to get started, local money and health considerations, and transportation (including maps), and Herbert said they will be updated later this summer to integrate closely with the web platform.
The apps also feature recommendations from people about moving to and living in that city. And the company’s web community will allow people to ask a question about their new destination and get an answer in 48 hours, though Herbert said she couldn’t offer any specifics about who will answer questions.
The iOS apps are $1.99, and Herbert has other monetization plans, though she couldn’t go into specifics (one she mentioned was taking a percentage of any services booked through the site). Though the company only offers resources for moving to select cities right now, Herberts says she sees the company as a global business, and will expand to more cities around the world. She also said they’ll likely develop apps for platforms like Android after the public launch.
We recently wrote about NYC-based Moveline, a Techstars company that aims to help people with their moves. The company allows homeowners to research moving companies and truck rentals, providing full pricing breakdowns. Homeowners can also create an online move inventory tracking system to save movers from taking stock of inventory themselves. In testing in NYC right now, the company plans to expand across the U.S., and isn’t as focused on relocating internationally. Herbert said she doesn’t really count the company among their competitors. ”In reality we focus on quite different segments, and we do quite different things. We cover more services, and we focus on the international market,” she said. “We’re probably more complementary than competitors.”
Though Moveline might not be a direct competitor, the company has to compete with existing resources for expats, everything from travel sites like TripAdvisor, to online expat communities and forums, to online resources like JustLanded, which launched in 2003 and offers over 50 country guides, a job portal and housing resources. But estimates put the global expat population at almost 200 million people, and that’s not counting people who are looking to make their first international move. The market is big, and to take advantage of it MOVE Guides will have to expand its roster of international destinations, while also providing a vibrant online community, one that provides something different from existing expat resources.
Updated: This article outlined the plans for a Q&A component in MOVE Guides’ web platform, based on their app descriptions. Founder Brynne Herbert updated us to say that Q&A won’t in fact be a feature of the new web platform.