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Yoyo Chang entered the world of finance at the age of thirteen, when a former vice president of JP Morgan taught him how markets work and how to trade stocks. He soon became a highly qualified professional who expanded his investment portfolio for family and friends to a high six-digit amount.
At the age of eighteen he started a project with a group of school friends to solve the long lunch lines at their school. He soon saw the possible application of the ideas from this project to the payment industry as a whole.
During his first year at the University of York, Yoyo independently invested £120,000 in commercial profits to develop a pilot product for KodyPay. The result was a resounding success on the university campus, where more than 2500 students tested the pilot project live. He then raised £1.8 million to build the entire KodyPay product and continues to work with his founding team ready to launch the second generation of the KodyPay platform by the end of 2020.
In an exclusive interview, Yoyo said
Finally, the team and I want to make a difference and contribute to all charity activities. Payments are an incredibly lucrative industry, and the more we can do to help the less fortunate, the better. Ultimately, we want to give all our users the opportunity to get used to direct and positive influences on the lives of others.
The excitement of knowing that we can change things for the better and improve the average person’s life experience supports my motivation. It’s also the excitement when something doesn’t happen in our world.
Read on to learn more about Yoyo Chang and his journey.
Tell me about your personal experiences and what motivated you to work for your company.
Yoyo Chang: I’ve always wondered about the finances. I started trading stocks at the age of thirteen because my teacher was a former vice president of JP Morgan. I swallowed everything he told me. I’m pretty good at it, and I still manage a high six-figure investment. CodyPay came by when I realized how awful the situation was in the lunch line at my school. Everyone paid cash, and when we got to the end of the line, lunch was usually over. So I went to my friends and I said: Can we fix this? A few days later, CodyPay became a school project. We worked on it in our spare time and later, when I went to university, it started to develop into a full-fledged company.
What is your current main product and can you give a product sales history?
Yoyo Chang: Our current product is a hardware-free mobile cash register solution with a truly reliable payment infrastructure. Customers can avoid queues because the all-digital cash registers are directly connected to their machines, and vendors don’t even have to be there to process customers. KodyPay users can also choose from different payment methods (e.g. Alipay, Cocoa Pay soon, etc.) that can be used when shopping in a store. Dealers can benefit from all of the above advantages without additional integration efforts. You only need one application.
We knew from the start that we wanted customers to avoid queues, but we didn’t know what it was like in the beginning. We went through all kinds of ideas, from using encrypted tools to simplifying the chips and fixing them a bit like Mobeewave. But in the end, we refined the product and got what we wanted.
How much money have you raised so far? When was the last financing cycle?
Yoyo Chang: We have collected just over £2 million in total, but the big news of course is that we have just completed the £1.8 million collection cycle. This came from a group of dignitaries, including our president, Hank Uberoi, and a fantastic IBM partner company called Cognition Foundry.
What are the internal decision-making processes that determined the start of fundraising and what logistics are involved? And how many investors did you meet, how did you get to know these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Yoyo Chang: Our investment process for the seed cycle was not exactly the standard risk position that most investment cycles start with. Initially, we decided to start the investment cycle as soon as the development of the pilot product had started. That’s what I thought: Wow, I put a lot of money into this. Let’s really get to work.
What are the main challenges and obstacles in the fundraising process? If you had to start over, what else would you do?
Yoyo Chang: Due diligence is probably the biggest problem in fundraising. The reason for this is that we have to submit a lot of material that didn’t exist, because this is the first time I have openly applied for funding. You never know what the Venture air conditioning system is going to demand of you, and we’ve certainly had some fun evenings where we had to change equipment in less than 24 hours.
How did you attract users and what strategy did you use to grow your business from start to finish?
Yoyo Chang: So far we have been lucky that our decision didn’t need so much marketing. We just proved that remote payment on campus or festival grounds was a viable option for our first pilot project, and all testers received a bonus for working with us in the first place. In an environment rich in students, it was quite easy to find people who wanted to help. In today’s social climate, people are already inclined to choose solutions like ours thanks to our product. Of course, it won’t take long, so we’ve prepared several strategies. The basic idea is this: The more a product can sell in the beginning, the better.
That most starters are usually wrong about marketing?
Yoyo Chang: It is difficult to implement a marketing strategy with very high costs to attract customers, but with very few customers. Many start-ups want to reach the stars of the world with their marketing concepts, but this is not always the right way. A high purchase is worthwhile if you can keep your customers, but you have to be absolutely sure of this compromise.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when starting a business?
Yoyo Chang: If you have doubts about what you can achieve as a founder, your company can be hit hard. After all, it is maintaining maximum trust in your employees and your product that makes everything run smoothly. Another common error lies at the basis of the product. It is imperative that you return everything you do to the end customer and explain why they prefer you to someone else. There’s no point in thinking that you don’t have any competitors, because even if you don’t, you’re bound to have some soon.
What is the best advice you have ever received? And what advice can you give to someone who wants to do similar things with you or go in a similar direction?
Yoyo Chang: You have to surround yourself with a group of people who train you to be an entrepreneur. The path is not easy and there will be significant ups and downs. Stability is the key to success.
What are the three most popular books or movies (series) that changed your life and why?
Big Short (book) is probably one of the first books I read at the fair. I remember I was 15 when I first took it and I couldn’t put it down. This has been a fundamental basis for my thesis on investments in the plans of remediation companies.
The social network (cinema) will be next. I’ve always called this movie a joke to fool my crew. In addition to politics and litigation, it becomes clearer to us every day and forms a maelstrom of change.
After all, I love Steve Jobs movies. He must be one of the most inspiring people in the world to me. In the sense that no matter how he conveyed his vision in a somewhat disappointing way, he knew what he wanted. He continued his efforts and did not let any obstacle stand in his way.
How do you maintain your motivation on a daily basis?
Yoyo Chang: The excitement of knowing that we can change things for the better and improve the average person’s life experience supports my motivation. It’s also the excitement when something doesn’t happen in our world.
Which lessons do you want to teach your (future) sons and daughters three times in life?
- It’s normal to be naive and not understand what’s going on around you. But trust the process and make sure you follow your heart.
- The people around you are perhaps the most important aspect of your life. That’s because they will shape you and influence what you will eventually become.
- Never give up until you’ve found what’s important to you: He’ll be with you the rest of your life.
Why do you want to be remembered?
Yoyo Chang: Finally, the team and I want to make a difference and contribute to all charity activities. Payments are an incredibly lucrative industry, and the more we can do to help the less fortunate, the better. Ultimately, we want to give all our users the opportunity to get used to direct and positive influences on the lives of others.
You can follow Yoyo Chung.
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