Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy

Successful managing global talents is not dystopia especially with Topia

Human resources (HR) is one of the core things that distinguishes bad companies from good ones and good companies from great ones. That is especially true when it comes to managing mobile and global talents with all the the challenges it bring.

Today we are presenting you an interview with Brynne Kennedy, CEO of Topia. Her idea for Topia stemmed from her global career in finance and researchinghow bold companies are transforming their workforces with mobility betweenlocations and roles.

What is Topia?

Topia provides a future of work platform that enables companies and their employees to work everywhere around the globe. Our platform powers global mobility programs at the world’s leading companies including Dell, Schneider Electric, AXA and Equinor.  Put simply, companies use us to move their employees!

What sort of activities and functionalities are included within the Topia platform that users can take advantage of in their everyday work?

We have two experiences—one for HR teams and one for mobile employees.  For HR teams, our software takes away a lot of the friction of managing a globally mobile workforce with functionality like automatically creating a cost projection for an assignment, generating and storing documents, authorizing vendors for relocation services and calculating payroll instructions and year end compensation reviews for mobile employees. These things are all incredibly manual and complicated—which makes it hard for companies to operate really globally!

Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy

For employees, we have a portal that enables them to manage there location related tasks and explore a destination, all with personalization for individual and family preferences.

Who is your target group when we speak about the company size? Or if the company size is not that important, is it more important how often they have employees from abroad or if they relocate their employees to other countries?

We typically sell to enterprise companies with 5,000 employees or more, but there are cases where the complexity of a company’s global mobility program or number would warrant the use of a system like ours even if they are not quite as large.

You offer city guide so that users more easily learn about their new city. What other helpful information can you offer for mobile workers about their new city? Do you offer options to connect with other people who recently moved in to a certain city so they can meet offline?

Topia CEO Brynne Kennedy
Brynne Kennedy speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018

Our city guides provide a great deal of information about an employee’s new city and where they might like to live. The guides cover a wide range of topics—everything from how to set up utilities or registering with local authorities to the popular sports teams and weekend activities to do with your kids. We’re pulling hundreds of live data points and combining that with curated content to deliver an experience akin to an interactive digital magazine. One feature we’re really excited about is our Neighborhood Planner which enables you to find the right neighborhood based on metrics like commute time or costs. Today, we don’t offer options in the employee product to connectwith other people who have recently moved to a new city, although in major expat hubs there are separate third party web communities for people to connect.

Moving to another city can be stressful for employees but also often requires a lot of work for HR people. What are those things that you think consume the most time, for newcomers and for HR people,and how Topia helps in reducing that needed time?

For a lot of folks in HR and Global Mobility the process of moving an employee involves a lot of logistical administration—projecting costs, filling out forms to authorize vendors, chasing approvals from necessary stakeholders, managing spreadsheets to track costs, ensuring visa renewal dates are met and similar administrative activities. It ends up being an inefficient and poor use of the HR team’s time. By using technology to manage your program we’re able to automate nearly all of these types of activities. For example, when you initiate a move, instead of having to fill out roughly the same information multiple times to initiate different vendors, the Topia system is able to pull all the necessary employee information from your HRIS system like Workday, SAP SuccessFactors or Oracle and then automatically authorize the necessary relocation vendors based on the approved policy and benefits. That alone saves real time for the HR team.

Employees face different challenges. They’re worrying “Where am I going to live? How will my stuff get there? What do I need to know about my new office/role? How do I setup my mobile phone, setup internet, get groceries, etc.” Inevitably your employees end up spending working hours thinking or managing through these questions. By providing them the information and tools to manage their relocation in a single place we’re able to drastically simplify the process for a relocating employee.

Rakuten invested 25m EUR in Glovo?

There are some rumours that the Asian ecommerce giant Rakuten with other investors have invested 25m euros in Barcelona-based delivery app Glovo.  Both companies haven’t officially confirmed the investment. Previous big round of 5m euros Glovo raised in August 2016.On-demand delivery app GlovoGlovo is on-demand delivery app which enables that users get items they ordered in less than 1h via self-employed partners called Glovers. Company has been founded in 2015. in Barcelona and is often featured on the list of most promising Spanish apps.  Glovo is currently present in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Sevilla, Malaga, Milan, Rome and Paris but they will certainly add more cities in the nearest future. In Barcelona and Madrid they operate 24h. 

Rakuten FC Barcelona jersey sponsorship

Rakuten is one of the world’s biggest Internet companies, especially dominant in Asian e-commerce sector. In other parts of the world, for example in Europe, many non-tech people have first time heard about Rakuten when they became jersey sponsor of FC Barcelona. Some other notable investments and acquisitions of Rakuten include Viber, Priceminister etc.

Emaar acquires Namshi

Emaar Malls acquired 51% of Namshi for 151m USD

Global Fashion Group, owned by Rocket Internet, has announced a strategic partnership with Emaar Malls, which have some of the biggest shopping malls like Dubai Mall in the region and owned by property developer Emaar Properties.

Emaar Malls will acquire a 51% stake in Namshi, the leading online fashion retailer in the Middle East, for 151 million USD including investment in the company for its future growth, with GFG retaining the remaining as 49% co-owner. This partnership will accelerate Namshi’s development in the region while on the other hand give big possibilities to Emaar Malls to grow in ecommerce sector. It has been expected that partnership like this happen, taking into consideration that Emaar was interested to buy Souq.com, the biggest e-commerce site in the region, which was acquired by Amazon for 650m USD earlier this year.

Namshi acquired by Emaar

“The acquisition of a majority stake in Namshi underlines our digital-driven strategy to leverage the growing e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa region,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Malls. “Namshi offers a perfect fit for Emaar Malls in accelerating its focus on multi-channel retailing, and creating long-term value for its stakeholders.”

“We are very excited to welcome Emaar Malls as our majority shareholder,” said Hosam Arab, MD of Namshi. “We are confident that this partnership will unlock further opportunities and help accelerate the development of Namshi for the benefit of our customers. We would like to congratulate and thank our team for their tireless efforts in making Namshi the Middle East’s premier fashion ecommerce destination and we look forward to continuing this journey together with Emaar Malls and GFG.”

Russian sites and services banned in Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine have had very tense relations since the last several years, and it seems currently relations are at all time low. As a result of that, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenk signed on Monday a decree which prevents the operation of Russian sites and online services in Ukraine.  To be precise – a so called web sanctions apply to 468 legal entities and 1228 individuals from Russia.

It is a well-known fact that majority of the most popular sites and online services come from Russia, and two online groups Yandex and Mail.ru owns the biggest number of those popular services. Ukraine users will not be able to use Yandex, Mail.ru. and services like Odnoklassniki (OK) and Vkontakte (VK) which are part of Mail.ru Group and many services from Yandex like search engine, maps, taxi app etc.

Both Yandex and Mail.ru said that this decision will not have significant effect on their financial results.  Mail.ru rep. expressed dissapointment with this and called it as “clearly politically-driven decision”. Around 25 million Ukrainian users will be affected, who regularly use online services from Russian companies.

This will give opportunity to local and foreign companies to gain better market share in the Ukrainian market. From the Ukrainian community many are against this decision and call it as “censorship”.

French startups to look out for

For several years France has been trying to become one of the most important startup basins in the world. The country offers Europe’s largest tax discount for research and development. There are 71 innovative clusters combining universities, private enterprises and research centers.

France already has several success stories. Among the most spectacular ones are BlaBlaCar, a service linking drivers having free seats in their vehicles with people looking for transportation, streaming service Deezer or manufacturer of thermostats Nest, bought by Google for an impressive sum of $3.2 billion. The below list presents these small French companies which are still not well known but deserve special attention for their innovation:

Happn – An application which uses current location of your phone to find and show you persons with whom your paths have crossed and potentially liked us. Of course, to be in the timeline presenting the people we passed, both persons have to use Happn. This is to be the solution for situations when our attention is drawn to the person sitting opposite us on the bus, but before we get the courage to speak to her, she gets off. Or when we liked someone we passed on the street. The idea appealed to the investors – in December 2014 the company managed to raise $8 million in the first round of financing.

Cookening – An American Airbnb-like platform which connects residents of a given city with tourists who would like to taste real local food. These “host” users create their own profiles on the site, where they publish photos of meals they have prepared to encourage potential visitors. Importantly, Cookening offers not only unique culinary experiences but also the possibility to engage in social interaction.

StarOfService – The platform connects local service providers with customers and allows them to adapt to their needs – price range, location or preferred time. After submitting an inquiry, the customer gets an email and he chooses which offer he wants to use. The service is available to users looking for local services tailored to their specific needs – from wedding photographers, plumbers, language teachers, DJs, to Pokemon Go trainers to hire. Last year, the startup raised $10 million from investors for further development.

Mention – The image of our company is built, among others, by the type of relationships we have with our clients. The faster we are able to react to consumer feedback, the better. The tool created by Mention startup not only informs users in real time about their company being mentioned on the internet, but also allows an immediate response to an article or post in social media. This ultra-fast media monitoring is already used by companies such as: Microsoft, Spotify and GitHub.

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