Brian Wong, the business savvy CEO who started his company, Kiip, at the age of 19, has achieved an impressive list of accolades. Wong graduated from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business at age 18, eclipsed Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest entrepreneur to garner venture capital funding, and has been listed consistently in publications like Forbes as a member of the 30 Under 30 elite.
Now 25, he’s a published author, manages offices in Silicon Valley and New York, and serves as a mentor for students at his alma mater.
What made you decide to pursue your undergraduate degree in business?
I was introduced to marketing and business early on because I learned how to design with Photoshop. At 10 years old, I was on the computer downloading software and designing things, which led to creating websites, layouts, logos, and interfaces – just for fun. Initially, I wanted to be a corporate lawyer, to do business and political science. I enjoy debating and proving people wrong. I discarded that desire mainly once I started to build a web design company during my time at UBC Sauder. I gained exposure to [. . .] venture capital funding and I became interested in working at a start-up in Silicon Valley.
You’ve mentioned that your focus in University wasn’t on achieving the highest GPA, but on participating in extra-curricular activities and groups – for example, as VP of Marketing in the Commerce Undergraduate Society. Why was this important to you?
I encourage every undergrad to get involved in extra-curriculars. For me, [working with the Commerce Undergraduate Society] was largely intriguing because I took on a management role where I could recruit and hire – all volunteer-based work. In class we were learning skills like responsible leadership and budgeting, and with internships we got a chance to roll up our sleeves and actually experience how a business runs.
You had the opportunity to intern with 1-800-GOT-JUNK through UBC Sauder’s Hari B. Varshney’s Business Career Centre. What did you learn from that experience?
I wanted exposure in an organization that had a brand in the Vancouver area, and then I realized that a lot of people around North America know this brand. I was curious about PR – and its crossover into marketing, communication and journalism. It was my crash course in social media positioning and working in the real world. If it wasn’t for that internship, none of the interviews that you’ve seen me do would be as good as they are today.
How have your studies at UBC Sauder helped you succeed as a CEO and leader?
Business school gives you this foundation of knowledge of what you need to pay attention to as you work through your role in an organization and [lets you know] what you need to learn more about. I’m not going to know all the ins and outs [of every facet of business], but that’s what’s so effective about University, is that it teaches you what you need to learn.
What do you practice on a daily basis to be successful and productive?
I throw a call right in the morning – it gets your mind going every day, like natural coffee. I love conversation, and if I’m in pitch mode, I preserve my energy for the people I need to convince.
After speaking with Wong, one thing is clear: his excitement and focus on his passion is electrifying. If you’re looking to take your next step toward being a notable entrepreneur, you can always follow in Wong’s footsteps and see where UBC Sauder School of Business takes you.