Borrowell’s Eva Wong: There is no better time to build tech in Toronto
Eva Wong is a first-time founder on a mission to build Borrowell into a global FinTech company. She is passionate about building businesses customer-first, and brings that passion into everything she does at Borrowell. Read on to see her global idea for tech and innovation.
How did you get involved in tech?
Looking back at my career, I had many informal touch points with tech before officially “getting into tech.”
I studied Business at Queen’s University, joining CIBC during my time as a student, working in their tech process engineering division. I also worked as a Microsoft Access database developer for the university during my studies.
After that, I became a Management Consultant. I worked for a few different consulting firms and eventually got my Master’s of Public Administration degree. After graduating, had a couple jobs before returning to management consulting, where I worked closely with the tech industry and with many tech CEOs.
I formally got involved in the tech scene when Andrew Graham, the CEO of Borrowell, approached me to join his founding team.
This was early days for the company, prior to office spaces or even the name “Borrowell.” It was just an idea. I joined in an operations role, and I’ve been here since July 2014.
You have 3 hours to make someone fall in love with Toronto – where do you take them and what do you show them?
I live in Leslieville and love the area, so I’d want to start there. We’d walk around so I could show them the independent shops, retailers, and cafes in the area.
I’m a huge fan of Centre Island as well, so we’d take the ferry over. I think the Toronto Islands are one of the real treasures of the city, and you get a beautiful skyline view. In particular, I’d take them on the Skyride Gondola where you can ride in the sky and look back at Toronto.
Elevate Toronto is founded on three principles (#DiversityIsOurStrength, #DisruptTogether, #ItsOurTime). Which one resonates most with you?
I love all three, but the one that personally resonates is #DiversityIsOurStrength.
Diversity is a core principle upon which we founded Borrowell, and it’s a very real belief for our whole team. I don’t think we’re perfect in tech or in society as a whole, and we have a long way to go. However, what I love about diversity is its potential. We can accomplish so much and Toronto can take a global leading role in leveraging the potential of diversity.
What is your “global idea” for tech and innovation?
My global idea is to remind every business person and entrepreneur to be customer-first in your thinking about new ideas, businesses, or ways of doing things.
The more we focus on what the customer needs and building a fantastic customer experience, the more we will see silos breaking down between industries. Instead, we will focus on how we can learn from one another to build better companies.
In the tech world alone, we see this. We all borrow great design cues from Apple or great customer insights structures from Netflix or Amazon.
A lot of times in non-tech industries, we used to see things like banks only taking cues from other banks or other financial services companies on how they can better themselves. Now, we need to look way outside our own industry in order to be truly innovative.
What should the world know about the Toronto tech community?
The world needs to know that there is no better time to be in Toronto tech. Our ecosystem is large enough to be successful but still small enough that it is a tight-knit community.
Given where the community is right now, there’s so much opportunity to break into tech and even become an “insider.” At the pace we’re growing, the tech community is set to be massive in the next ten years.
If you get into tech in Toronto now, you’ll be able to ride the crest of the wave into the future when Toronto is much, much larger.