Moving from the Financial Sector to a Sustainability Oriented Start-up

Friday, February 5, 2016

Toddly Logo.
Written by Elly Im (BMath ’11) 

A start-up was probably the furthest prospect from the future I envisioned when I happily graduated from the University of Waterloo in winter 2010. I was young and really excited to take on my first full time job at Goldman Sachs.

I spent the next year working as an analyst in Singapore, traveling to Hong Kong and Seoul on business trips.  Excitement faded as reality set in; this was it. I would have to subscribe to the hierarchical culture and accept the usual four year corporate timeline to achieve my next goal: becoming an associate.

I was disillusioned to say the least.  The experience taught me valuable skills like working under high pressure while working with some of the brightest and dedicated colleagues. Yet, I was profoundly unsatisfied and uneasy on a daily basis. My yearning for creative innovations and disruptive technology only grew stronger day by day.

Then an opportunity arose. I jumped in and dabbled in my first start-up ‘hobby’ while I was going through a couple of jobs to support myself financially. At the end, I was pretty certain that I did not identify myself as the risk-taking entrepreneur type so I went back to working for a client in NYC for a couple of years. My career path may have looked flawless on paper but I felt pretty lost.  Fortunately, my personal life was headed in a better direction.  I got married and moved to North Carolina, and finally put an end to my finance career.

Toddly ( came alive in November after lots of iteration and second-guessing. I was fortunate enough to be invited to conferences and meetings to pitch my idea to angel investors and venture capitalists, and most recently to the mighty Dragons! (CBC Dragons Den Next Gen)

As I was learning the ropes of managing a product development cycle for Toddly (both a web/mobile application), numerous UW alumni/friends were extremely generous to offer their well-qualified expertise to help guide me. Im more than humbled and grateful for the overwhelming support from the community.

Wedding photo of Elly and his wife.
As I continue to envision and plan for the growth of my first company, I feel blessed that I have a social network of some of the most talented engineering students in Canada.  Entrepreneur is a newly found identity for me compared so some of amazing UW students who have had an entrepreneurial streak since their earlier years. However, I feel grateful and inspired in taking on this new journey knowing that I have the UW community as my superpower resource.