From Google to start-up: Why I’ve never looked back

Google veteran Gustav Holst Stuge shares how he used his past experiences to build and grow his insuretech start-up InMyBag.

For many employees working in the tech industry, being hired by a sector giant like Google or Facebook is often thought of as the gold standard for employment in the sector.

It’s easy to see why. Employees often enjoy high job satisfaction levels, are well-compensated, and have the added benefit of working for a world-straddling brand. Then there are the daily perks that range from the likes of in-house massages and free food to talks from leaders in their fields.

On the other side of the coin, these tech behemoths are so large that workers can often feel lost in the belly of the beast and unable to prompt real change – and then end up moving to start-ups.

When I started at Google in 2013, the big brand held some serious allure but it was the opportunity to help travel, fintech and insuretech SMEs grow their businesses online that really piqued my interest.

At the time this represented a perfect mix. I’d be fighting for small brands that had everything to gain from entering the digital world with the backing of Google’s considerable financial clout. I was tasked with helping smaller, nimble companies take business from well-established players in the market.

Since then, I’ve founded a number of start-ups and am now the chief exec of an insuretech start-up called InMyBag. Even a number of years later, it was undoubtedly this ‘everything to gain’ attitude that initially stoked my interest in working for smaller brands and has underlined everything I’ve done since.

It’s not to say I’m not grateful for what Google taught me – using the company’s significant technical know-how and world-beating exposure, I learned how to build a business using digital tools.

In the same way that a Ph.D degree from Harvard open doors, with the backing of Google, I also felt able to test ideas and theories in a safe space.

It was this comfortable airlock of ideas that ultimately lost its sheen though. Fear might not be the best motivator, but some of the greatest companies were once start-ups fighting to survive, simply because failure wasn’t an option.

At InMyBag, we set ourselves some really lofty goals of building an insurance company that people can really trust and rely on when they truly need it. It’s a busy space so we need to think differently, work harder and ultimately provide solutions that incumbent providers haven’t dared to do so.

That feeling when the message starts to take hold and customers migrate over to the service from well-established players is simply something that cannot be replicated by working for anyone else – it’s the pay-off that you get from building your own business.

When getting your business off the ground, every day can feel like a fight for acknowledgement, exposure and even survival. But with great risk comes an even bigger reward – for all of the prestige and comfort afforded by Google, the rush of growing a brand from the ground up is unbeatable.

Gustav Holst Stuge is the CEO of InMyBag.

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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