Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Alyssa Furtado co-founded Ratehub, a price-comparison website for financial products

Company HQ: Church and Richmond
Founded: 2010
Employees: 73

How it works: “It’s like Expedia for financial services. On our website, you can compare the best rates on products like mortgages, credit cards, bank accounts and, soon, insurance.”

Eureka moment: “In 2009, I was grabbing drinks with James Laird, an old classmate from Queen’s who was building a mortgage brokerage. He was spending tens of thousands of dollars buying customer leads. So we said, why don’t we build a mortgage rate comparison site, attract consumers and sell those leads to mortgage brokers? I’d seen companies in the U.S. like that, so I knew it could be a big business.”

How much you spent initially: “The five original members of the company put in a few hundred thousand dollars total.”

Your turning point: “For the first four years, we were just generating leads to sell to third-party brokers. In 2014, we built our own brokerage, CanWise Financial, which allowed us to absorb more leads and provide better customer service.” 

Your big-time backers: “This year, we raised $12 million from investors, including Elephant, a venture capital firm co-founded by Andy Hunt, one of the guys who created Warby Parker.”

Past life: “I spent two years consulting at Bain. It was an amazing experience, but I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do.”

App you can’t live without: “Uber. I use it every day or two to get to meetings—or to get home after a night out.”

Coolest thing in your office: “We have a loft with a TV and video games at the top of a spiral staircase. It feels like a hideaway out of Hogwarts.”

Your tech role model: “Sheryl Sandberg. I like that she’s a serious, accomplished businesswoman who still has an empathetic, vulnerable side to her.”

If you weren’t running a start-up:“I’d be teaching. I applied to teachers’ college while I was writing the business plan for Ratehub.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Stress is okay, so long as it’s not the same things stressing you out every quarter. If you’re no longer worried about the things that used to worry you, it means you’re making real progress.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “In our early days, an adviser listed 10 things he thought we needed to do. It was the exact wrong strategy. Instead, you need to decide to be the best at one thing and go all in.”