Q&A with our CEO
Things are crazy at the fish tank these days, but we took some time to sit down with Topher!
Q: How did you end up where you are today?
TK-W: By trying a lot of different things and making lots of mistakes, hopefully only once – I went to university at 17, big mistake, and by 19 was in Australia living off of baked beans in a van with my best friend. That led to an ambitious goal of going to the Olympics and starting my first real company, Sailing For Gold. 3 years later and lots of beautiful venues all around the world I quit the campaign and decided that knives weren’t sharp enough. I started my second company with a mission to make them sharper (and safer). I quickly figured out my time wasn’t scalable and I sold the equipment and moved along from that. I answered a job add and randomly ended up working at a big open source software company in channel marketing, I observed a massive shift in the distribution of products and decided I could transfer this to startups. This was a double-edged sword, as I learnt the pros and cons of the startup world and vowed I would never start a software company due to the amount of effort and time it took. A year later I started Ongozah, with the same person I told I never would start a software company with… throughout all this I have also managed to get married and have a little girl. Geeze!
Q: What’s your biggest inspiration?
TK-W: Challenges and family I think – I am not a good sports fan and I don’t care much about “celebrities”. I have a great relationship with family and am always inspired to work hard to provide them with something, whether its adventure, financial stability (yet to find that one…J ) or just learning. I admire and respect my Dad for being an entrepreneur most of his life and taking big risks (including moving to Canada from the UK) and have learnt a huge amount from watching the highs and the lows of this. I think a major motivator and inspiration comes from tackling challenges and overcoming them. I often joke that if starting a company was easy, we wouldn’t do it, but I truly believe that’s a major driver for most entrepreneurs.
Q: What’s your favourite hobby?
TK-W: Beating Yves (CEO of Qimple) at Ping Pong… That and racing sailboats. I used to do it semi professionally and at one point it was my occupation, but now I see it rather as a great way to unwind and focus my attention on something equally as challenging, but very much a hobby…trying to win a sailboat race.
Q: Why Porpoise?
TK-W:Because Dolphins get too much attention… Also, the world is going through an interesting transition and people are valuing different things today than they were 10 years ago. Rather than ignore this I think there is an opportunity for businesses to recognize that people still need to work for them, and they can embrace this change by aligning company values with their employees’ values. The one common thing that people are looking for today in their lives is Purpose – we can give them a fun way to get that.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
TK-W: I have been lucky enough to travel the world quite a bit, but there are still hundreds of places I haven’t been. One that comes to mind is Cape Town, South Africa, as well as some of the smaller South Pacific Islands. They seem like an amazing mix of culture and incredible landscape.
Q:What was the highlight of your most recent trip to NYC with the Founders?
TK-W:I think the highlight for me was watching the transformation of us as a team as we tackled a larger market. When spending time in smaller markets its easy to get into a comfortable rhythm and forget how hard we have to work to make porpoise take off swim. Within hours of being in NYC we had gotten back into the hustle and were thriving. That was great to see.