Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Orchard co-founder Bruno Wong, whose company simplifies the process of buying and selling used iPhones in a way that is both safe and fair. What was the inspiration for his career route? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m the co-founder of Orchard. Orchard is an online concierge service that makes buying and selling used iPhones incredibly easy, safe, and fair. My day-to-day involves developing our business through designing our mobile and web platform, guiding our brand identity, and seeking out unexplored avenues for us to grow.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve always wanted to start my own tech company and build something that brings value to a lot of people. I’ve been inspired by other tech companies that have been able to do this well, Apple being one that particularly stands out to me. I appreciate their approach towards product design, with its emphasis on producing an elegant user experience. So I set out to build a business that has that same attention to detail and simplicity as its foundational principles.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do is collaborating with our team. Our team is a group of people who are not only good friends of mine but are just as determined and passionate as I am in growing Orchard. I think the challenge lies in making sure even our missteps bring us forward in some sense. This can be tough while juggling all the moving parts that come with being the CEO. I’m responsible for make sense of a lot of different types of information and then executing something, despite the fact that things are changing on a daily basis. It can be nerve-wracking, but also incredibly rewarding.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
The two big signs for me are when my fridge is empty or my apartment is dirty. It means that I’ve started neglecting some pretty fundamental aspects of my life outside of Orchard, but I use it as a great opportunity to hit refresh and take some time to regain that balance.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
It can be tough to envision Orchard that far out in the future, but I really see it as becoming the go-to global solution for buying and selling used consumer electronics. That’s the goal for the company and I see myself playing an integral role in getting us there. In five years, I also hope to find myself surrounded by good friends and family, a first-time homeowner, and in the best shape of my life.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Before Orchard, a foundation-shaking, life-changing cancer diagnosis caused me to reevaluate how I was spending my time and really ask myself, “What do I want to do for a living?” and “What am I passionate about?” Realizing that the answers didn’t include the business I had been running at the time, I knew that I had to change something. Being determined, persistent, and patient is what helped me find my opportunity in the tech space. It’s this same persistence and determination that I put into building Orchard everyday.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money alone doesn’t equate to happiness. Money can enable me to have new and rich experiences, which, I think, plays an important role in being happy. But fundamentally, success means doing what I love for a living and having that define me, which is why I think it’s so important to make sure you’re still contributing to society instead of just pursuing a paycheque. When I ask myself if I’m successful, I measure it by asking myself what I’m contributing and what that means about me as a person. Framing the question in those terms, you have to start looking outside of just your work and look at your relationships with your friends, family, and community.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Bringing on our first full-time employee was a huge milestone because it was a sign that we have become a legitimate company. It wasn’t just the co-founders in the office anymore, so it forced me to think about what type of culture we wanted to develop and how we wanted to engage with our staff. On a more basic level, it’s also just really cool to have someone wanting to dedicate their time to help take Orchard to the next level.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Build something that brings real value to people and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Those two pillars are going to be instrumental in helping you push through the rough patches that inevitably come with building a company. Also, read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and start reading essays by Paul Graham.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I like La Carnita for the ambience and delicious mexi-tapas. Sushi on Bloor and New Generation Sushi both have pretty good sushi, which is my comfort food. Northwood and Montauk are my favourite casual lounge/hangout spots. L’Ouvrier and What a Bagel are both becoming my favourite brunch spots. I try to keep it as diverse as possible.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I like to gather my thoughts while running or circuit training; working in an office setting can really make you value physical activity. One of my main goals is to run four miles every other day. I also bike around the city or catch up on reading on my free time.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
When I backpacked around Europe for four months, three places really stood out to me which I would like to return to: Edinburgh, Scotland; Barcelona, Spain; and Prague, Czech Republic. The look and feel of those cities created a lasting impression on me. I was a different person in 2007 and I would love see how things have changed being there now.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
“Wake Up” by Arcade Fire.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d probably work at Club Monaco for the employee discount.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I actively support two right now. CANFAR, which is dedicated to eliminating HIV and AIDS through research. A lot of good people are a part of this initiative and I think they are doing a great job. I also support iBellieve, which is focused on supporting the rare disease community in Canada. A good friend of mine, Simon Ibell, established this charity and I’m really impressed with everything they’ve accomplished so far.
What to you is notable?
Something that shakes things up or inspires you. I love when new ideas or approaches are deceptively simple. Something notable should somehow create progress in your life.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone! My life’s work currently surrounds everything to do with the iPhone.