Tech Entrepreneur Thea Myhrvold (28), Founder of TeachMeNow.com and GetBee.com
Tech entrepreneur Thea Myhrvold (28) from Larvik, Norway has founded not one but two technology companies from her base in Dubai where she lives with her husband Christoffer. In 2017, she was on LinkedIn’s list of “Top 40 Power Profiles” in terms of influence on LinkedIn, where she was listed as one of the top 10 influences in the Middle East and the only woman under 30. Considering the fact that she managed to convince Amnesty International to hire her to work for them at only 16, despite the minimum age requirement of 18, it is not all that surprising; Thea has always had her mind set on her goals and been willing to work as hard as she needs to in order to reach them.
‘I think as women, we sometimes have this paralysis by analysis. We need to realise that done is better than perfect, we need to be brave and take chances’, she says.
At the age of 23 (!), she founded TeachMeNow.com, a global marketplace for live and on demand learning, connecting students and teachers all over the world. Earlier this year, she founded GetBee.com, an engine that allows entrepreneurs, companies and nonprofits to use the technology that they built for TeachMeNow.com to create their own online community.
When she’s not busy running two international companies (believe it or not, it happens), she loves dancing (especially Argentine tango), swimming, cooking, meditating and traveling. We spoke to Thea about female empowerment and inspiration, her businesses, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and what keeps her moving forward and reaching for new goals. Read on to get to know this ambitious, humble and incredibly inspiring superwoman a little better.
First Of All, How Did You Start Your Day Today?
With a delicious cup coffee and a cinnamon bun that I bought from my favorite bakery in Norway. I always start my morning with some funky music to get in the right spirit and excited for the day – today it was some old school funk!
I just got off a flight from Oslo to Dubai. A little tired but excited to see everyone in the office!
What Made You Take The Leap And Start Your Own Business?
It was always about impact. As a young person navigating larger organizations, like the UN, I was frustrated at the lack of impact I had. I saw much more potential in doing my own thing and finding my own way. Leveraging technology I saw I could make a real difference faster than in other ways.
What Were Your Biggest Insecurities When First Starting Out And How Did You Overcome Them?
So many and still so many! I think it’s really important to talk about this as we are all insecure about something, and especially in entrepreneurship there are no right and wrong answers or defined paths to take, which amplifies a lot of other doubts too.
When I started this company.. I was 23. I knew then, and was painfully aware that I didn’t have all the answers. I was also aware that as a young woman I would have some credibility challenges to overcome. I overcame them by simply just starting, and knowing I would figure it out step by step along the way.
How Do You Pick Yourself Up And Keep Going When You Feel Discouraged?
The most important part about entrepreneurship is about perseverance and to keep going and I think about several factors:
My clients and the people who use our technology.
My team and advisors – they are a daily inspiration.
I also reflect on the last time I was feeling down and think about how far I have come since then. It’s motivational to take a step back and see the big picture.
What Is The Best And Worst Thing About Being Your Own Boss?
I love being able to work with people and create a work culture where people want to work and thrive. I am very fortunate to be able to hire and learn from my amazing team.
The most challenging (I would never say the worst because I feel very honoured to be in the position I am in) is the responsibility, which is both good and challenging. As the saying goes “The Buck Stops Here”, meaning you are ultimately always responsible. A win is a team win, but a failure is always ultimately somehow yours. This is a big responsibility that I don’t take lightly, but it’s a motivation to be able to stay on top of everything.
Tell Us About Something You’re Really Proud Of In Your Business And/Or Your Greatest Achievement:
I am proud of a lot of our team accomplishments. A recent big win for us was officially being supported by Expo2020 and winning a $100 000 grant! Out of thousands of global applications only 100 top global innovators have been selected. I was also nominated and won $30 000 from the Cartier Woman’s Awards in 2017, representing the UAE (out of 18 women globally) and we were also sponsored to go to INSEAD for an executive course. This is a great achievement in terms of validation of our work and our business.
In 2017, LinkedIn published their top 40 “Power Profiles” in terms of influence on Linkedin. I was one of the top 10 influences in tech in the Middle East. I was the only woman under 30 on that list (and only one other woman was on the same list as me) and I am so proud to represent women in tech – it is a great measure of our influence through our work too!
Our clients and their success – it is a true win win. Recently, one of our TeacherEntrepreneurs, Karense, created a super successful online learning platform for Norwegian Teaching called NoTe.no. It is a platform where you can buy courses, book sessions with her and actually do the live sessions, and payments is created and hosted by us. I am proud to have scaled and empowered her to reach her students all over the world and excited to work with individuals like Karense.
We also have Microsoft as a client. This was a big personal achievement. When a company like Microsoft, which is a tech company, becomes a paying client, it’s a great sign that you are doing something right.
Where And Doing What Do You Feel Most Inspired?
The beauty with tech is that you can work from anywhere. I love meeting clients, and talking and strategizing with them about how to grow their platforms that we build for them through GetBee.com – this is truly exciting because it inspires me to think of new ways people can use our technology to create and scale their impact too.
I also really love working from our office in Dubai. I am proud of it and I love the colors, the plants and the people – I open the door everyday and feel inspired.
Name Any Woman (Past Or Present) Whom You Admire And Look Up To And Please Tell Us Why:
So many! You have the obvious role models and leaders like Sheryl Sandberg but I want to share some not so famous stories.
A natural place to start is my mother. She has always been a business woman and always thinks of innovate solutions. She always says there is a solution for every problem, which is something I carry with me in my business life. Her strength, guidance and perseverance in the challenges in her life have been a great inspiration to me.
Other female entrepreneurs and leaders who challenge the status quo! I recently discovered the story of Radi Zuckerberg, yes the famous last name, she is the sister of the founder of Facebook. Little did I know, she actually launched Facebook live video as a part of an internal project at facebook. She now runs a tv show for girls called DOT, teaching girls how to code!
There is also Linda Liukas, another ExpoLive global innovator from Finland. She has started this amazing program called Hello Ruby, and has a wonderful ted talk about how she teaches children, especially girls, how to code through her innovative play and book series. Her story is just magical. Here is a link for anyone interested: A delightful way to teach kids about coding.
There are also some amazing Norwegian leaders in their industry, like Birgit Liodden. She is the previous director of NorShipping and now head of Oslo Businsess Region. Why I look up to her is two fold.The first is that she is a kick ass woman in a male dominated field and always pays it forward to other female leaders and colleagues. The second is that she is very honest and brave talking about personal challenges outside just work, like depression and suicide. This kind of honesty and bravery is truly inspiring.
I also have some inspirational friends featured on this website, like Lulla Hokholt, and of course the founder of this website, Caroline Sandermoen. Like Birgit, she is brave in sharing the honest experiences of going through something very personal, talks openly about cancer and is an advocate for female health and regular cancer screening for women. It’s just wonderful! I am #blessed to have friends like this that I look up to and admire.
Last but not least, in the era of MeToo, I also want to thank all the super supportive men who really make sure to encourage and mentor women for all the right reasons. I want to send a special thank you to all of my mentors (men and women) who support and inspire me through my journey.
What Do Scandinavian Women Need More Of? Less Of?
Getting out there. Our social democratic systems sometimes hold us back when shouting about our accomplishments. As women, we assume our work will speak for us and we don’t need to talk about it. This happens everywhere, however no one will give you credit if you don’t actively talk about and share what you do. Share your accomplishments and be proud! You never know you inspire next to you.
Name Three Qualities You Admire In Other Women:
Social ability in terms of network and supporting each other
If You Have One, What Is Your Personal Or Professional Motto?
I have a few:
Keep going and keep learning. Every experience is a learning opportunity!
Surround yourself with people that make you better, that you can learn from!
Every problem has a solution – it’s all about resourcefulness and mindset.
When, Where And Doing What Do You Feel The Furthest Away From Your Comfort Zone?
Lots of things, everyday – that’s entrepreneurship! You have to be out of your comfort zone to keep progress going and to keep learning. Some things are more exciting that others of course – updating paperwork isn’t the highlight of my day but is important.
Tell Us One Thing That People Would Be Surprised To Know About You:
I am currently learning Arabic on TeachMeNow.com and I am not sure my teacher knows that I started the website… it just never came up! I also used to be a dance teacher and I love all forms of dance.
And Finally, Do You Have Any Advice, Big Or Small, To All The Ambitious Women Out There Wanting To Head For Their Dream Career?
Just do it! I think as women, we sometimes have this paralysis by analysis. We need to realise that done is better than perfect, we need to be brave and take chances.
And once you start – just keep going! You will be surprised how far you come. And to you, the reader, I can’t wait to read YOUR story one day too!
Exclusive Offers From Thea To You:
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