Wingocard is one of Montreal’s newest fintech startups, but with one important twist. When Sebastien Brault, Mehdi Mehni and Salvatore D’Agostino founded the business earlier this year, they decided Wingocard would be a “remote work only” company.
“When we launched in January, there was no pandemic on the radar” Brault tells MTLinTech. “The 3 of us have all worked remote, and we each have families. And I have experience helping companies in San Francisco and New York build remote teams here in Montreal. This model helps us access talent anywhere in the world. It helps with work life balance by eliminating commuting time for employees. It also helps us be a lot more scalable too.”
Brault is a long-time entrepreneur who met up with his former partner Mehni for coffee a few months back to catch up, when such things were still permitted. It turned out that as parents, they were both struggling with how to help manage their teenagers’ finances. A follow up conversation a few months later led them to come up with the Wingocard solution for teen finances.
The card itself is a Visa debit card, and is issued to the teenager directly (no credit). The teens are the principal account holders, but parents have certain access to the accounts. For example, they can review their children’s spending through a mobile app. (note, both a parent and a teenager must sign up together for Wingocard). The objective here is to help young people learn how to be more responsible about money and keep better track of how they use it.
Many people have had bad experience with banks because they can at times profit from the poor financial decisions of some individuals. “These are the kinds of things we want to prevent” says Brault. “Whether it’s credit cards or other kinds of financial statements, they are not user friendly and hard to read. We are a design first company, and our products will be easy to use and intuitive. We want it to be easy to understand your own data. And through our rich information, users will even be able to manage some of their subscriptions directly from the statement.”
Born from the Diagram labs, the company has already grown to a team of 7. They will be working with Visa on payment processing, and are currently shopping around for partner banks to handle the accounts in the US and Canada. The company hopes to launch in both markets by the end of this summer, but for now there is a waitlist prospective users can sign up for on the company’s website. (Note: Wingocard deposits $2 in a user’s account for all referrals)
Brault says there is good camaraderie among the team even though they’re all working remotely, explaining that they often brag about home workout accomplishments over online chat applications. “When people commute, it does burn more calories that just walking down the hall and back. For us this is all about culture. We try to encourage people to go for long walks, and listen to podcasts.” He says they rely on Slack, Zoom and the G-Suite of communications products to keep in touch, but points out that’s still an imperfect science.
“Another challenge for young companies is that they are often short on process and structure. Sometimes that makes things easy, but when you’re remote that’s tougher. You need process to do some things and you need to be good at written communication to make sure you are well understood by your team.”