The Backbone — Episode 16: Monetizing a Free Product & Navigating Complexities of the Financial Services Space

Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell

On this episode of The Backbone I chat with Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell.

For more background on the launch of this podcast, check out Introducing The Backbone!

Joining me on this episode is Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell — a leading Canadian FinTech focused on credit education for Canadians.

Brian is a former Director at CIBC Capital Markets, where he led the development of a new FX fintech solution. He is an experienced finance leader with a diverse background in Strategy, Corporate Development, and Accounting.
 
 Brian is focused on combining finance with strategy and operational excellence. He earned his Master of Accounting from the University of Waterloo and is a Chartered Professional Accountant and CFA charterholder.

On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with Brian about:
  1. His journey to Borrowell from CIBC and how he got started in finance within the software industry;
  2. What Borrowell is all about;
  3. Monetizing a free product;
  4. Managing the complexities of operating in the highly regulated FinTech space;
  5. The importance of the finance function at a technology company

We close things off with a quickfire round:

  • Go to online resource for all things startup finance related
  • Favourite productivity hack
  • One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
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Check out previous episodes of The Backbone

Episode 15: Serving the Restaurant Industry & Breaking Into Tech in a Finance Capacity w/ Rob Curcio, Director of Finance at TouchBistro

Episode 14: Scaling the Finance Function, Fundraising, Making Acquisitions & Operationalizing Metrics w/ Ryan Magee, Chief Financial Officer at Cority

Episode 13: Serving the SMB Market at a Publicly Traded Software Company vs a High-Growth Startup w/ Darren Wood, Director of Finance & Operations at Jobber

Episode 12: Leading Finance at NPOs to High Growth Tech & Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital w/ Anthony Scolaro, VP Finance & Operations at Lucova

Episode 11: Raising $17M Series A Round & What it Means to be ‘Venture-Backed w/ Frank Jessop, Director of Finance, Sensibill

Episode 10: Vendor Selection Considerations & Viewing the Finance Function from an Engineering Perspective w/ Gerti Dervishi, VP Finance at Flybits

Episode 9: The Process of Acquiring Companies as a Startup & Best Practices for Investor Relations w/ Ryan Levenberg, VP Finance at Q4 Systems Inc.

Episode 8: Raising VC Funding to Executing an $110M Acquisition + Demystifying the Progressive Roles of the Finance Leader within a Startupw/ Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ

Episode 7: Going Through an Acquisition of an eCommerce Company & Keeping Both Sides of a Marketplace Happy w/ Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media

Episode 6: From Finance to Founding an IoT Startup & Bootstrapping vs. Raising Venture Capital w/ Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation

Episode 5: Difference Between Being an Advisor vs Finance Leader for Tech Startups & When to Raise Capital w/ Eugene Bomba, CFO & VP Operations at ThoughtWire

Episode 4: Transitioning from Professional Services to Finance Leader of Pre-Revenue Tech Startup w/ Chris Parkes, CFO at NuraLogix

Episode 3: Why Finance & Operations go Together & Dealing with the Highly Regulated Financial Services Industry w/ Leen Li, Head of Finance at Wealthsimple

Episode 2: How Finance Scales Growing from 25 to 200+ Employees & Transfer Pricing w/ Les Cullen, Director Finance & Operations at TopHat

Episode 1: Managing Churn & Being Private Equity Backed w/ Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex


The Backbone is a podcast hosted by Shubham Datta, that explores the journey inside finance at a startup. Each episode features a finance leader (Director/VP, Finance or CFO) that:

  • shares their story of how they entered the world of startups,
  • explains what their company does
  • describes unique challenges he/she faces in their role
  • shares expertise relating to specific topics on the mind of finance leaders