Sydney Wong Founder of VenturX

“The most important thing in life is balance.”

Meet Sydney Wong


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I grew up in Victoria BC. I’m the first generation of my entire family born in Canada, or any first-world country for that matter. Growing up, I sold a lot of chocolates and cookies to raise funds for UNICEF and things like that at school. Fun fact: After my first year in University, I was qualified for zero jobs so I ended up selling knives. I once cut myself during a demonstration, which did not work out well.

After graduating from McGill, I did a Master’s in Paris at a school called ESEC in International Marketing. I came back to Montreal, worked in online marketing and web marketing since then. Those were booming industries back in 2009 when I started. I actually did my stage at Ogilvy and Mathers, which is one of the biggest advertising firms in the world. Technology was moving fast at the time and it was the only place where innovation was taking off like crazy.

That’s where my career started in fields like marketing automation and CRM. I began managing websites for Procter & Gamble in Montreal. I also worked at WebMD, where I did online marketing for 112 pharmaceutical clients – mainly newsletter and email marketing. After that, I worked as a consultant for marketing automation. That allowed me to travel a lot, and I even lived in Silicon Valley for a while. I met with friends there, and went to tech conferences. I was told that if I wanted to learn more about tech, this was the place to be. Luckily I was offered an opportunity from my friend and just hopped on a plane to move there. I moved back to Montreal to start my company.

Last year, I started working on VenturX, which is my main pursuit now.


How long have you been an Entrepreneur?

2 years

Did you leave a job to become an Entrepreneur?

Yes

What is the name of your current project / company?

VenturX

Please describe for us in 1 sentence your current project.

VenturX is a platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors through due diligence business metrics; It is a combination of Angel List and Google Analytics

Where did the idea of your current project come from?

I started this when I knew who I wanted to help after my life in technology. I wanted to help startups who were going to change the world one day. A friend of mine then said that if I was serious about tech and startup, I should move to Silicon Valley so I did. I moved in with him. When I returned to Canada, I wanted to bring that kind of startup structure and energy. So I traveled across Canada on a shoestring budget to research the biggest pain points from startups and investors and how to help.

The biggest pains for startups are that they do not know how to get to that next step in their business and have trouble with funding. Currently, VenturX has both cross-industry startups from across the country and investors on our platform. We provide a dashboard to measure product market fit, runway, conversion and engagement. The startups can compare their business metrics to other companies in that similar industry; when they feel ready, they can submit it for funding to our investors. The metrics help startups know where they stand and help investors cut their due diligence time. These metrics were constructed from our Board of Advisors which includes investors, grantors and bank partners who fund startups.

Why do you do what you do?

We are trying to help the 90% of startups who fail. We want startups to put their best foot forward when they have traction and feasibility. We help them with that by setting in place business metrics and industry benchmarks. At the same time, investors are being over solicited by startups that are unprepared. That is why we built out a tool that accesses their metrics and helps them with any additional support they need such as working on their pitch deck, business strategy, etc..

What’s the one thing you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?

In my first year in university, I was looking for opportunities to get involved and I was scattered all over the place. I definitely would have done fewer things.

Specifically, I would have participated more in business-type competitions against other schools which is a more real-life environment than typical exam-based classes. I probably would have competed in my university startup competition too! Startup events and things of that nature are a lot more popular now than they were 6 years ago, and I really wish those opportunities were available to me when I was in school.

What’s the most important piece of advice would you give to someone just starting?

Track everything!

Entrepreneurs grow, execute, and run so fast all over the place that they do not take the time to really measure if their efforts are going in the right direction or not. When surveying customers for market research and customer discovery, some startups still do not take down the contact information of those potential leads who really want to purchase your solution when it is ready. Another example would be tracking social media marketing efforts. What hashtags are you using? Which are your most effective posts? Who are the influencers in your industry that you can partner with in the future? All this information needs to be tracked so startups can make sound decisions going forward. Startups think there isn’t enough to track and utilize; however, when you are starting, every single positive reaction is a business opportunity and every single negative response is a learning opportunity.

What is the hardest thing you have had to do regarding your business?

The hardest thing I had to do regarding my business was breaking up with a co-founder. I had a technical co-founder who put us in technical debt so the relationship could not go forward. The break-up experience was hard but and the re-building of the product was harder. It lasted for next several months. The lesson I learned was to give tests to everyone who joins the team in every single position.

What does your typical day look like?

In a typical week, we have several status calls with the development team and the sales team. 5-10 times per week, I post videos or content on social media and engage users. We have a demonstration call every 2 weeks with the development team where every person gets to present his or her work over the past 2 weeks. On the business side, we engage with clients, potential partners, and investors. We make sure to cover all ends because technology companies are about the entire business and not just about the technology.

If you were to start again, and could change one thing, what would it be?

I would be more focused on why I am referred to certain people or networks. At the beginning, I get a lot of “You should meet this person” and I never asked why. Asking why seemed rude to me at the beginning of my journey because I thought that I was fresh and just starting out so I should appear grateful for opportunities but I ended up wasting a lot of valuable time and effort when I didn’t ask why. I needed to stop to think how these different referrals could help my business or not. Sometimes, these referrals could not help my business, which needs to be my main focus all the time.

What is the most important thing in life?

The most important thing in life is balance. In my life, I find lots of joy in yoga and cooking. Cooking is a way for me to be busy with my hands and it helps me release stress…so over time, I have become a phenomenal cook!

At times I see our developers still online at midnight, I do have to send them a message to remind them to go to sleep! It doesn’t happen a lot but it is important.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One problem I have encountered is how to pay for new hires. Like a lot of entrepreneurs who are on a shoestring budget, this will definitely come up. I grew as a child of immigrant parents and I learned to live frugally; I did not have a fancy lifestyle. When I was couchsurfing in Vermont, I met a girl who was a “Workaway.” I signed up for that program for my business.

I ended up living with travelers who helped me out with my business during their stay and I would also get to cook for them. Over the past year, I had a Swedish videographer who made videos for my youtube channel, a Polish developer who made the first prototype of the application, an American business analyst who organized our data into usable form, and a Brazilian graphics designer who designed all the pages. Great resource to check out: www.workaway.info

Tell us something unique about yourself.

I am a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and built 7 house in Indonesia and Dominican Republic. It was amongst the best experiences of my life. I got to learn a lot about the culture and the people. It was a project I fully fundraised for by organizing different fundraising events in Montreal including Murder Mystery Dinners, concerts, etc..