Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Good Migrations Amanda | August 22nd, 2012

Let’s not mince words here: moving abroad is rough, rough stuff.  After someone finds their House Hunters International perfect home, they are faced with packing up their stuff and trusting strangers– who may or may not speak their language– to ship it safely half-way across the globe.

As the founders of this week’s Small Business Spotlight discovered, there is very little information available for foreigners looking for reputable and trustworthy movers.  Adam Vagley and his wife had to move their family from New York City to Sydney, Australia, which as the crow flies, is a cool 9,946 miles (16,005 km). As they tried to suss through the lack of information available for the move, they kept asking themselves: what if there was a service where people could review and find international moving services?

And lo! GoodMigrations was born. Users rate movers on three criteria: cost, time, and condition.   The site also has a bevy of international moving guides and information about what to look for from moving companies. It’s an absolutely killer resource for those looking to relocate.

Ex-pat Adam talks some more below about the business of moving internationally:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

One of the more surprising things my wife and I discovered when planning our move from New York City to Sydney, Australia was the lack of information on international movers. It’s incredible that you can go online and find more about the track record of a restaurant, where a meal might cost $30, than you can for an international mover, whose service can cost thousands of dollars. Because of the cost involved this is a decision you want to get right, but the information just wasn’t out there. This problem was the genesis for starting GoodMigrations.

GoodMigrations is kind of like the Yelp of international moving. We make it easy to find international moving companies near you, read real customer reviews of those companies, and we’re adding the ability to request quotes from the ones you like. We’ve also got a step-by-step guide on the moving process so you know how to protect yourself.

What are some industry specific challenges you faced?

Since we’re just getting started, the biggest challenge has been building up our base of reviews. Moving abroad is something people do maybe once or twice in a lifetime — if at all — so unlike a general review site where you can review dozens of businesses, we only get one review per person. We’ve really been relying on the expat community to help us out by adding reviews of their moving experiences.

 What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

While the purpose of GoodMigrations is to help people find reputable movers, we left the work of contacting the movers up to the individual. To be more of a full service resource we’re adding functionality that will allow people to easily request quotes from movers they like via the site. This was something we should have included from the beginning.

What made you use crowdSPRING?

I had a rough idea of what I wanted the website to look like but didn’t have a clear vision. I thought getting submissions from multiple designers would be the best way to see different options. Some great designs came out of the crowdSPRING contest, including the one I chose.

 What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?

Nothing too crazy has happened yet. It’s just been lots of hard work. My wife and I spend a lot of evenings sitting on the couch emailing expats — not exactly exciting stuff :) (To all the expats out there: if you haven’t heard from us yet, you probably will soon…).   

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

Like my six words of advice say, I would have spent more time building a network within the expat community before I even started development on GoodMigrations. It doesn’t matter what your it is — a book, a website, a restaurant — ultimately it’s the support of the community that will help make your venture successful and keep you going when things are tough.

How do you see your company growing in the future?

There’s a lot of room for growth here. The immediate goal is to continue to bring clarity to the industry for consumers and improve the process of finding and hiring international movers, but we’re also starting to approach potential partners serving the expatriate population to see how we can work together to help current and future expats more broadly.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.

Build relationships before you build it.

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