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Ep 20: Building Mobrium, Part 1 - Our story of founding a tech company

While not hosting The Culture Profit, what are hosts Matt R. Vance and Crista Vance up to? In this episode, hear our unedited story of co-founding a tech company as husband and wife with 5 children ages 8 and younger. This special episode is part of a raw and ongoing founding story of Mobrium.

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This episode is sponsored by Mobrium. Easily improve employer ratings on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and InHerSight.

👉 Visit mobrium.com to learn more.

YOUR HOSTS:

Matt R. Vance is a social innovator. He is the Co-Founder & CEO of Mobrium, Co-Host of The Culture Profit Podcast and award-winning author of The Review Cycle. He likes dad jokes, red shoes, running and biking. See his full bio here: https://www.mobrium.com/leaders/matt-r-vance

Crista Vance is the Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Mobrium and Co-Host of The Culture Profit Podcast. She loves tennis, reading, biking and good food. See her full bio here: https://www.mobrium.com/leaders/crista-vance

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Episode Highlights

What is Mobrium?

Matt R. Vance: A platform for HR pros and employer brand managers to strengthen your employer reputation as a reflection of your real culture on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and InHerSight. Just like no one wants to buy a 3-star product or go to a 3-star restaurant, no job seeker wants to apply for a job at a 3-star company. By helping employers automate review requests and optimize their profiles on these review sites, Mobrium helps companies:

  • Get more job applicants
  • Lower turnover
  • Increase employee engagement & productivity
  • Even increase sales (because customers also look at employee reviews)

How does Mobrium work?

Matt R. Vance: Our proven methodology goes back nearly a decade- following the principles in my book, The Review Cycle. There are 4 primary functions Mobrium provides employers:

  1. Automation of employee review requests (on repeat, FTC and platform compliant)
  1. Simplify employee review management (one central location for all platform reviews)
  1. Harvest insights from employee reviews (reports for learning from trends across all platforms)
  1. Strengthen employer branding (finding aggregated company culture stats for advertising)

What are the benefits of using Mobrium?

Matt R. Vance: As Mobrium helps you optimize your employer ratings and reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and more, you’ll benefit from:

  • More applications for job postings (faster time to hire, lower cost per hire)
  • Lower employee turnover (cost savings)
  • Increased employee engagement (productivity increase, customer satisfaction boost)

Here’s a 2-minute explainer video about Mobrium:

Why should an HR manager use Mobrium instead of managing employee reviews on their own?

Matt R. Vance: There are several reasons:

  1.  Conflict of interest: When someone from HR asks an employee to leave a review on Glassdoor or another site, that employee may be concerned. “Am I being singled out?” “Who else was asked for a review?” “Will they know the review was from me and discriminate against me?” For these reasons, employees are less likely to participate when asked for a review from HR, which is inside the company. When Mobrium, as a trusted 3rd party, asks for a review, full anonymity is protected, employee trust is preserved and the number of reviews collected increases. Getting more reviews is the most effective way to increase star ratings and qualify for best place to work awards.
  1. Reputation disparity: Many companies we talk to feel that employee reviews are important, but they don’t have time or resources to manage many websites. This is where a critical error is made- they only manage one or two websites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Ignoring the other key websites, they create a new problem: reputation disparity. While Glassdoor may have a good rating and plenty of reviews because the HR team is managing it, other sites have lower ratings and fewer reviews. As a job seeker, employee, customer or investor sees both profiles side by side, trust is completely destroyed. Someone may think the good ratings are faked, manipulated or controlled while the lower ratings are the unbiased and unfiltered opinion of employees. Mobrium systematically diversifies your reputation by algorithmically splitting up review requests to your employees across all top sites- giving your employer reputation greater strength.
  1. Best Place to Work award eligibility: Between Glassdoor, Comparably and InHerSight there are over 30 awards an employer can qualify for every year. While many companies pay to apply for one single company culture award at a time- often tied to a structured employee engagement survey, Mobrium helps you meet award eligibility requirements for 30+ awards from a single program. The Mobrium system is designed to help you maximize award eligibility, even overcoming small mistakes many HR leaders make that can damage winning potential.
  1. Save you time and money: By our estimates with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an HR leader of a 500 employee company would spend 170 hours per year ($8,000+ in payroll) just sending and managing employee review requests. And this is only one part of proper employer reputation management. Mobrium provides a cost-effective plug-and-play solution for running a best-in-class employer reputation program.
  1. Increase HR profitability: Leadership wants the HR department to minimize costs and maximize productivity. With proven outcomes, Mobrium gives you measurable results to showcase increased profitability on recruiting, retention and employee engagement.

Where should I start?

Crista Vance: The first step to launching a successful employer reputation program is measuring where you are starting from. You need to know what your current ratings are across Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and InHerSight as well as if there are duplicate or unclaimed profiles and how optimized your profiles are.

Our team at Mobrium provides a free employer reputation audit. Essentially, we’re doing the first step for you, absolutely free. On our call, we’ll review the results our expert team found for you and even include some calculated forecasts of where your reputation and profitability can be using Mobrium.

To request your free employer reputation audit from us, visit mobrium.com or click the button below:

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When did the Mobrium story start?

Matt R. Vance: In 2014, I applied to over 50 jobs. It was my senior year of college. I was a track athlete, completed multiple internships and had good grades. Not getting a job offer was very discouraging. But then I finally was offered a job at a start-up called Malouf. They sell mattresses, bed sheets, furniture and more. At the time they had about 30 employees. I was given the job of “managing reviews” on Amazon. I figured this was my last resort, or my destiny, so I took the job and learned all I could about managing customer ratings and reviews.

Crista Vance: I was expecting our first child at that time. The next spring in 2015, my plan was to stop working and care for our baby when she was born. I was working at USU on a research project that was ending and everyone else had quit except me- I was the last woman standing. My boss asked if I wanted to stay employed and move to another project. She said I could bring my daughter with me to work. Over the next 6 years I continued working, managing on-site professional conferences and bringing my kids with me. 

Matt R. Vance: Going back to 2017, I was 3 years into my role at Malouf, now managing a team in charge of reviews for hundreds of product listings across dozens of e commerce sites. Amazon changed their review policy and I felt very stuck. 

Crista Vance: While on a drive home from visiting family, I gave Matt the idea of writing a book about reviews. He’s good with research and likes teaching people and has that entrepreneurial drive. 

Matt R. Vance: At first I was hesitant, but agreed it would be a good idea. I thought it would take me one year, but it ended up taking four and a half years.

Crista Vance: One thing about Matt is he is very detailed and thorough. 

Matt R. Vance: While writing the book, I suggested that Malouf let my team open a profile on Glassdoor and some other employer review sites. I figured managing employee reviews would be similar to customer reviews. Our second year of applying my principles, Malouf ranked 8th in the nation on Glassdoor as a Best Place to Work. And that’s out of over 1.1 million employers. I moved from the ecommerce team to HR and led the employee experience efforts. We won 7 more big awards from employee reviews before I was recruited to iFIT. That was a great opportunity to further validate my research leading the same efforts at another global company. At iFIT, they had me start in Marketing where I founded the customer review team- managing hundreds of product listings and dramatically increasing ratings and review health across all brands. Then I was promoted to VP of Culture, leading employee experience efforts. It was the same pattern that I followed at Malouf.

Crista Vance: Finally in 2022 Matt’s book, The Review Cycle, was published! It was a lot of work for Matt, and I did all the citations and much of the editing.

Matt R. Vance: Yes, I am very grateful for Crista’s support and work to make the book a reality. During my research, I indexed over 1,000 content pieces from over 50 different review management companies. In that process, I identified a clear hole in the market. There were many companies helping with product reviews, local retail reviews and more- but not a single company existed to help employers with employee reviews. Since this hole was the intersection of my two discovered passions: reputation and company culture, I wanted to make the company that would solve this need. I quit my VP job at iFIT in the fall of 2022 in order to launch our company.

What was it like quitting the 9-5 to start a tech company?

Crista Vance: I know Matt can achieve what he sets his mind to, so I had trust that we could do this even though at the time we did not know exactly where we were going with it.

Matt R. Vance: My good friend Julius Kurushko was a key piece to this story. He’s a Co-Founder at REVIEWS.ai, a CPG review intelligence company that I had used both at Malouf and iFIT. He suggested I work for him as a contractor to bridge the gap. This provided some financial stability and some great learning opportunities while we figured out how to get started.

And for those in the CPG space, I highly recommend checking out REVIEWS.ai. With a few clicks, you can know what your customers like and dislike about your product, and competitor products. 

Learn more about REVIEWS.ai

Where did the name Mobrium come from?

Crista Vance: We asked ourselves, well, what is this company going to do for other companies? The main words that came to mind were “Momentum” and “Equilibrium”. 

What companies need is some momentum, some reviews, to get them to a better place so that they can hit that prime star rating and cadence of feedback to reach an equilibrium.

A lot of people think, “you always want to improve”. That is so true, but in the review world, you can’t get about 5-stars and you actually don’t want to get 5-stars. And that’s where we came up with “Mobrium”, because of the the “Mo” for “Momentum” and “brium” for “Equilibrium”.

We stick to that. Those two words really exemplify what we’re trying to do.

What has it been like founding a tech company while being a parent of 5 kids?

Crista Vance: It has been exciting and crazy for sure. I love having a creative outlet, keep my skills sharp and supporting my husband with what he is excited about. There have been moments of a lot of anxiety, stress and uncertainty as well as a lot of breakthrough moments where we see the potential.

Matt R. Vance: You’ve been doing an incredible job balancing everything Crista! I’d add it has been an incredible learning experience up to this point with amazing breakthroughs. But man, there have been some hard things as well. Getting that second customer took months and I was feeling the pressure. We’ve spared no amount of effort, energy or passion to get this thing off the ground and I wondered if I was failing my family. But then we got customer two, then three and four with more in the pipeline. 

There have also been some crazy things I never imagined would happen. For example- cutting Crista’s hair!

Crista Vance: Yep, I was desperate for a haircut. When you’re scrimping and saving and putting everything into the business you do some desperate things. 

Matt R. Vance: We’re also very grateful to our incredible team of advisors and team members who are helping make Mobrium a reality. 

What’s next for Mobrium?

Matt R. Vance: We want to help more companies strengthen their employer reputation and company culture. If you want help, even just knowing where to start, connect with us!

There’s also a big HR conference (EPIC) we’re attending in Las Vegas in April. Some awesome enhancements are coming to our platform and we’re working on the Mobrium Academy- the first employer reputation training program of its kind. You’ll be able to take the training and get a professional certificate for your employer reputation skills.

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Meet the Hosts

Matt R. Vance

Host, The Culture Profit

Co-Founder & CEO, Mobrium

Author, The Review Cycle

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Crista Vance

Host, The Culture Profit

Co-Founder & COO, Mobrium

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