Welcome to Part 3 of our Women’s History Month blog series, featuring a few of the founders of the NVP portfolio, who happen to be female. This week, we are excited to introduce you to Eden Full Goh, Founder and CEO of Mobot. Mobot is a full-service mobile QA solution that uses supervised, mechanical robots to test native mobile and mobile web apps on actual iOS/Android devices. It’s poised to change the way companies handle mobile product development. NVP invested in Team Mobot in the Fall of 2018.
NVP: Eden, tell us something the world should know about you - a little known fact, or an inspiration important to your personal story:
EFG: I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My family is ethnically Chinese, and they immigrated to Canada from Vietnam as refugees after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Growing up, I was told many stories about my entrepreneurial relatives: my paternal great-grandparents built their own business in rural Vietnam selling soft drinks/beverages, and my maternal grandfather owned multiple businesses in Saigon including a hardware store and a noodle factory. I always found their stories of leadership and bravery to be incredibly inspiring, and I've yearned to build something of my own too. Whether it's inventing a solar panel tracking technology for my previous non-profit (SunSaluter) or founding Mobot, building and tinkering has always been a core part of who I am.
NVP: How has your life, and/or your experience as a woman in business influenced the way you started, run, and grow your business
EFG: Before quitting my job to start Mobot in 2018, my wife and I had numerous strategic conversations, particularly because of the impact that starting a company would have on our finances and eventual family planning. We agreed that whatever startup idea I pursued needed to demonstrate viability quickly (closed customers, revenue, investors, etc.), or I would need to get a job when my own personal savings ran out. After working full-time as a Product Manager for 2 years, I calculated that I had saved up just enough money to pay rent, buy groceries and buy robot parts for up to 6 months without having a steady paycheque - that was it! It was not an option to be indefinitely unemployed for many months/years, tinkering away, so I needed to be REALLY SURE about Mobot before quitting my job. I'm very grateful that prioritizing my family actually served as a major force for me to focus on the most important things in starting Mobot that would move the needle: learning about the QA industry by interviewing as many people as I could, building a minimally viable robot prototype to prove out the concept, selling to potential customers and getting an investment and support from NVP.
NVP: How do you keep your team motivated?
EFG: During the pandemic, it has been particularly important to be clear and upfront with the entire team about our game plan. This includes our product roadmap, sales targets, runway, fundraising timeline and recruiting plan. The team just wants to know that we are thinking ahead and have a solid strategy for surviving the pandemic. For example, in late February 2020 before the lockdown, we began discussing a plan for Mobot to run our first fire drill to go fully remote as a team. At the time, given we were a team of 14 with mechanical robots and we had never gone remote before, this seemed like a big change. When the lockdown hit in early March, we had just executed the fire drill only a few days before, but it ended up being exactly what we needed to prepare. Thankfully, none of us were caught off guard by the lockdown as a result. That planning and communication was motivating to the team because it demonstrated that we could handle this pandemic no matter what the logistical hurdles were. I'm very proud of the fact that we kept the team together during that tough time, and we were all there for each other. In the year since then, we've grown to a team of 17 that is capable of going fully remote anytime, while still operating with hardware.
NVP: What should the VC industry be doing to encourage more women in leadership - on both the investing side, and on the tech and founder side?
EFG: As investors diversify their portfolios, I hope they will remember that founders and teams come from all walks of life, with different communication and leadership styles. We didn’t all graduate from business school, or even college. (I didn’t!) Some of us might have a product/engineering background, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn business development. It might take some time to learn how to work together, trust each other and get on the same page. Although it can be tempting to fall back onto pattern matching to determine the right path forward for an early-stage company, I hope that investors will also appreciate the new opportunities and unexpected insights that a diversified portfolio will bring.
NVP: What does the next year look like for Mobot? What are you most excited about?
EFG: Our team at Mobot is excited to continue to explore the role that our technology will play in the software development processes for our customers’ mobile apps. One of the most rewarding parts of our work is that our solution ends up touching a variety of use cases through our customers’ end users. For example, Mobot is used to test iOS/Android apps that notify users when there is a fire alert nearby, connect therapists with patients, allow family members to send physical letters to their loved ones deployed in the military, enable immigrants to create bank accounts without a credit history, and much more.
If you missed the first two installments of our Women Making History blog series, check out Naomi Shah, Founder of Meet Cute, and Jessica Gonzalez, Founder of VendX. Make to to keep an eye out for the next two blogs on Founder Kate Terry of Surround Insurance and Crystal Evuleocha of Kiira.