I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Mary Brown, Founder and CEO of VSNRY; a millennial management consultancy that uses global, remote, high caliber talent through a community to deliver strategy and digital growth for clients. At age 27, Charlotte left a high-flying investment banking and consulting career in London to travel the world and start building a new business to disrupt the Big 3 global consulting firms: McKinsey, BCG and Bain. Now based in Hawaii, her clients around the world have successfully launched new businesses, rebranded, launched new websites and digital transformations, undergone fundraising & investment rounds, pivoted to more lucrative business models, undergone reverse merger, acquisitions & IPO.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I have always had a strong desire to run a business that changes the world in some way, but for a long time I haven’t known where to focus. Born and raised in London, I began my career specializing in mergers, acquisitions and financial restructuring at Lazard, a top tier $7 billion investment bank in England, as one of the only women in the boardroom.
Before moving into the consulting world, I tried and failed to build a startup similar to Groupon before they existed. While I had spotted the gap in the market and had the right vision, I didn’t yet have the experience of how to grow a business. So I launched into management consulting and became a Group Strategy Manager for the largest energy company in the U.K. to help them achieve organic and strategic growth, during which their share price increased by 70%.
Not content with a corporate career in the UK, I decided to leave the corporate world in 2013, sold all of my belongings and my quintessential British home, travelled to all 7 continents and relocated to the USA to start my entrepreneurial journey in Miami, Florida. On the hunt for location-independence and my next business, I spent time in a range of cities across the US, including Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York while setting up my own strategy consulting practice — Adelie Ventures.
As my clients were implementing their strategies, they increasingly came to me for advice of which digital, web and PR experts turn to, as they were feeling overwhelmed scouring online freelancing platforms. Having explored the major digital and start-up hubs during my travels, I learned to code and launched a pop-up digital media business called London House Media to connect clients to the best remote talent around the world.
After proving both business models, I rolled up my two strategy and digital media businesses into an exciting new brand called VSNRY to rival the big consultancy brands by tapping into the digital nomad and remote-working population of digital and consulting experts around the world.
Why did you found your company?
To give business owners the support and access to the world’s best experts, no matter where they are in the world.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
There are three ways that VSNRY is disrupting consulting and digital industries.
Firstly, we are creating an aspirational brand that moves beyond the traditional, transactional relationship that advisory consulting and digital firms have with their clients. We are creating a global community of expertise for business leaders. There are some fantastic community-driven technology solutions that work extremely well in other industries. VSNRY is bringing a community to the consulting world.
Secondly, we are taking advantage of millennial, remote and digital trends to disrupt the local hierarchical structure that is prevalent in the consulting and digital agency world. Most growing businesses are not physically located in the most innovative, cost effective hub for their service needs. However, for a busy business owner to hunt down this type of talent elsewhere in the world is like finding a needle in a haystack. Technology is helping us to disrupt this dynamic. VSNRY is making global expertise accessible.
Thirdly, VSNRY has a social model at its core. We promote the remote workers in our community to spend a percentage of their time working on innovative, moonshot projects that make a difference in the world. The passion, global insights and exposure to some of the most exciting clients around the world are attributes that are impossible to harness from a standard localized team. VSNRY is going to change the world.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
I tend to meet my mentors serendipitously at times when I have been both chasing my dreams and challenging myself the most. I met Simon Birkett whilst building entrepreneurship programmes for the Prince’s Trust while at university, and I struck up a conversation with Andrew Weeraratne on the plane enroute from South Africa to the USA when I had decided to relocate to start my business in the US.
I wish I could say that I had some female mentors, but I don’t. I’m lucky that I have the most amazing mum and women in the world as friends, so it’s a tough to find female mentors that can challenge me to be my best version of myself as much as my mum and friends do.
How are you going to shake things up next?
I’ve only just rolled up my two businesses into a single brand, VSNRY, so all my moving and shaking will happen under this new umbrella brand. Follow VSNRY on social media (links at end of article) to see what I make happen!
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
“Learn beyond your speciality” — Specialization was key to the industrial economy. However, in the knowledge economy, people who learn and excel in multiple disciplines (otherwise known as a ‘polymath’) are now combining their skills to create a competitive advantage that puts them in the top 1%. Oprah, Bill Gates, Elon Musk are notorious ‘polymaths’ and they constantly bring innovation they learn from other industries into their own line of business.
So far, I have worked in advertising, investment banking, consulting and the world of startups. I’ve had exposure to almost every industry there is and lived / worked in cities all around the world. As I’m taking the best innovation from other industries to create something disruptive in the consulting industry, I can see the benefit of being both a ‘polymath’ and a voracious learner coming into play and becoming a competitive advantage in itself — for both my own business as well as my clients businesses.
“Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.” — While we hear that most new businesses fail, the world still tends to perceive successful entrepreneurs as being confident in their decisions and that they don’t feel fear. However, I have spent my career working with founders and executives that have to make decisions around growth.
I can say that hands down these business leaders make better bolder business decisions when their business is in a state of discomfort, and they make strategic game-changing decisions about how to interact with their business when their personal life is in a state of discomfort too. I’ve had this play out in my own life, and I now know that feeling uncomfortable or scared is an early sign of something exciting ahead!
“Nothing is impossible.” — In my summer breaks between high school, I gathered work experience at world famous advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi. The statement “Nothing is Impossible” was carved into the steps of it’s London building on Charlotte Street and is fundamental to how they approach creative solutions for their clients.
I realized early on that I wasn’t raised to be an entrepreneur, or to take risks, and most definitely not to try something people around me hadn’t done before. So I have actually spent most of my life training myself to remove barriers to what’s believed to be possible across my personal life and career. It plays such a big part in my life that moonshot and divergent thinking are now cornerstones to my business.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ by Rolf Dobelli was the first book that introduced me to the variety of ways we are swayed by human biases and common decision-making failings. Each chapter is short and sweet and was the doorway to me learning about the power of habit, psychology and purpose in life and business.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Masayoshi Son, the Japanese founder and CEO of SoftBank. He is one of the most visionary business investors in the world, known to have created a 50 year life plan for his entrepreneurial ambition and a 300 year plan for the growth of SoftBank as a Corporation. I expect to live until I’m at least 90, so I have a 60 year plan for my own entrepreneurial ambition, and I would literally jump on the next flight available from Hawaii to Japan for the chance to have lunch with him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @VSNRY.io (www.instagram.com/vsnry.io)
Facebook: @VSNRYinc (www.facebook.com/VSNRYInc)
Originally published at medium.com