Startup Stories: Micah Gabriels, Co-Founder & CEO at Mooven

Mooven CEO, Micah Gabriels, joins us to talk about the inspiration behind launching the company, his biggest challenges to date and the keys to startup success.

by hao-nguyen on November 29, 2021

Micah Gabriels is the co-founder & CEO at Mooven, a software platform providing a holistic view for contractors, infrastructure firms and governments.

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Hey Micah, great to be chatting with you again. Last time we spoke, it was a great conversation about how you manage work-life balance as a start-up founder. For those who may not know, can you tell us a little about Mooven and what inspired you and your co-founder to  start this company?

I’ve always had the desire to make a positive impact on the world, but I never really had the opportunity to unlock this idea at scale in my prior roles. Larger organisations often have a legacy position to protect, and this makes it pretty difficult to enact meaningful change.

In my last role, I was involved in developing products that used advances in big data and analytics to unlock disruptive innovation and one problem we looked at solving was traffic congestion.

Through this work we started to think about how we’re often forced to sit in traffic for extended periods because construction projects seem to drag on longer than they need to. Using this data, we found it was possible to completely rethink how construction companies approach project delivery, and there was potential for project times to be reduced significantly – by as much as 50 per cent.

This was a real lightbulb moment for myself and my co-founder Paul McDonnell. We realised that we had the power to help society flourish by fast-tracking the benefits of improved public transport and other infrastructure, all while generating fewer emissions.

The advantages also extended to the infrastructure sector itself as our vision would go on to create a more enjoyable, modern and financially sustainable environment for our construction workers. Once I started tapping into this potential, I had to go 100 percent all in. That’s why we did a management buyout of the early pre-market concept and minimum viable product (MVP) so we could get Mooven up and running as quickly as possible.

I’d love to dig into that sustainable aspect a little more. Besides benefitting the construction industry, how does Mooven harnessing data this way have an impact on the environment as well?

Knowing that Mooven is able to benefit our society as a whole is the number one reason we decided to tackle this issue.

Firstly, infrastructure projects using Mooven can be delivered much faster, so commuters reap the benefits of less congestion and incur minimum interruption to their lives. Secondly, the benefits of new infrastructure are available to the public far sooner, which means that economies can deliver more, faster, and more sustainably.

The combined impact of these benefits helps to progress public transport, walk and cycle projects where concern over their cost and disruptive impacts has traditionally slowed or blocked their development altogether.

You’ve been building Mooven for four years now. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

Juggling the dual importance of being “sticky” on our vision while remaining ‘flexible’ on solving customer problems has been paramount. Mooven is looking to re-invent the status quo for a complex industry that works in decades rather than months and years. How to navigate a path through this landscape at pace is fraught with potential pitfalls and is a big and exciting challenge.

For us, this comes down to deeply embedding our purpose and values into how Mooven operates and humbly starting to deliver value within the current paradigm so we all learn a better way. None of us are beyond doing the basics, and the basics help us build and maintain momentum, which in turn creates meaningful change.

Now taking these challenges that you’ve faced along the way, what do you think are the key traits or factors that lead to success for start-up founders?

A few things come to mind here. I think the ability to build an aligned, diverse and driven team that is comfortable with the creation phase of a business is ultimately the most important driver of success.

This is no small feat, and it requires astutely selecting, coaching and supporting people with the right experience for each stage, having the wisdom to learn just as much back from your team, while understanding how to evolve your organisation’s design throughout its various phases.

The importance of remaining close to sales and customers can’t be overstated, along with understanding the difference between delegation and abdication for these areas, or any other.

Lastly and most importantly, complete conviction in the vision while not being wedded to the first solution or idea you come up with will place a start-up founder in good stead.

One last question before we let you get back to it Micah. What is your long-term vision for Mooven?

Our long-term goal is to create cities that thrive by enabling infrastructure to be delivered in harmony with the surrounding environment. Mooven is already well on the way to achieving this, currently combining an unprecedented range of data (e.g. traffic, weather, events) in real-time with advanced analysis so teams can continually adapt construction plans to fit with the real world.

The greatest advantage of using comprehensive data to generate powerful insights and automated outcomes is that we can prevent issues from occurring before they even come to light.

For example, changing traffic lights to divert traffic without motorists even knowing. Using data in planning has a similar effect, in that it enables construction companies to avoid busy times and locations in the first place so they’re not in conflict with the public.

Thanks so much for your time Micah, it was great chatting to you as always. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out on the Mooven journey.

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