Torontonians who are making a killing in the tech sector

Torontonians who are making a killing in the tech sector

Diana Goodwin is the founder and CEO of AquaMobile, an on-demand swim lesson service

Photograph courtesy of AquaMobile

Company HQ: Front and Jarvis, plus offices in Florida and California
Founded: 2012
Employees: 6, plus more than 2,000 instructors
Users: 15,000 per year

How it works: “When you enter your pool address, you see a list of instructors who can travel to your home, with their photo, bio and real-time availability. You can book time slots and pay for them online through AquaMobile, and we then pay the instructor an hourly wage.”

Eureka moment: “When I was 19, I was a swim instructor, and I’d teach eight kids at a time. Some struggled because they didn’t get the attention they needed. I founded a company called Swim for Life Aquatics, where I’d teach at people’s homes and condo pools. Years later, I was unhappy with my corporate job and brainstorming business ideas, and thought, ‘Oh! I already have one!’”

How much you spent initially: “The first tech platform cost me $5,000. The developer disappeared before he collected his final paycheque, even though the job was mostly complete. Later, we won $100,000 from the Telus Small Business Challenge, and we’ve received about $150,000 in government grants.”

Your turning point: “We started in the GTA, but launching in Florida in 2013 was huge. We’re now in over 25 states, and more than 75 per cent of our revenue comes from the U.S.”

Your big-time backers: “We don’t have investors. I always felt I could bootstrap the company successfully: we didn’t have massive hardware or software costs up front, and the nature of the business let me fund growth through our own profits. We now bring in more than seven figures annually.”

Your tech role model: “Elon Musk. When everyone else thinks they’re innovating, he just takes it to another level.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “I’d be vagabonding around the world.”

Your go-to office outfit: “T-shirt, Lululemon pants and Nike Frees, which I have in a wide variety of colours.”

App you can’t live without: “Zero, an app that tracks fasting hours. I do intermittent fasting, because I’m a bit of a health nut.”

Past life: “Management consultant at Bain and Company.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Focus on your core customers and serve them really well.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “Branch out fast, serve a lot of different people at once and spend money up front—and you’ll grow to support it.”