It’s one of the coldest nights of the year and Anna Chan asks me if we can go for a walk. Her dog Floffy needs exercise. I give her my phone so she can speak into the voice recording app, and she hands me Floffy’s leash. “So, what’s your approach to business?”
Anna’s approach to business is completely community centred. She says app downloads and revenue go up and down, but if your company has “an alignment with your values, and purpose, and the people, then you can get through all of that. If you don’t have that what’s going to drive you every day? What’s going to drive the people working with you?”
Her app, myMomentum, is community-centred, too. It connects people in Vancouver with local businesses and vice versa. Users can earn points by completing daily challenges in one of three categories: Move, Nourish and Reflect. These points can be redeemed for rewards from community partners like a free wellness session or discounts on workshops and healthy, sustainable snacks.
When asked how she created all these partner relationships, Anna said that it was surprisingly simple. She started out hustling hard to sign new partners, but then each new partner lead to others through word of mouth. People in the startup scene are eager to support each other. The myMomentum team has even approached and signed partners because they happen to like those brands.
On top of supporting users and local businesses, Anna leads her team by setting them up for success. She acts as a mentor, providing strong direction and vision. She finds the right people for the job and gives them lots of room to work within their area of expertise. “It’s amazing when you can find the people that are completely the opposite of you and can really complement you.” She laughs and tells me that her husband often says “You’re running a tech company, but you can’t even turn on your laptop!” and she tells him “That’s why my team is amazing, because they do all that.”
Concerned, Anna asks “You’re definitely sure it’s still recording, right?”
I check my phone. “As long as the red dot is there it’s recording.”
When Anna first had the idea to create a different kind of wellness app she was pregnant with her son, James. “I was so pregnant with an idea and I was literally pregnant… And I was just bursting like ‘I just need to get this idea out! And God, I’m 38 weeks, I just need to get this kid out!’” Her head was spinning with ideas that she needed to put out into the world. Then she found her Technical Adviser, Raphaël Titsworth-Morin. Raphaël helped connect all the ideas spinning in Anna’s head and simplify them. Then came Celine Chen, her Design & Community Lead, who visualized the app. The three entrepreneurs would set up meetings at Blenz, but check in at the last minute to make sure they were still happening. Anna could have gone into labour at any time. All at once James and myMomentum came out into the world.
myMomentum celebrates the journey rather than the destination. The aim is to help people feel good. Anna says their definition of wellness comes down to this “Do you feel ok?” If not there’s something lacking in your life, whether it’s nourishment, exercise, mindfulness or rest. There are many apps that help you do one thing, like track calories. Others chastise you for missing a day of exercise. myMomentum is unique because it works with you. You decide what you need, whether it’s a high energy dance-fest or a good meal, and you never have to feel guilty. It’s about feeling good and having fun!
Anna started her career studying finance then working in sales and business
development. Her motto was “hustle hard” and she lived up to the task. “We had one client in China and they wanted to grow that business so I pretty much launched that. And we grew our client base to 13 Fortune 500 companies. Basically my role was to bring in all the revenue.”
Alan Leung from Olive Branch gave her this glowing recommendation on LinkedIn “Her strategic planning, and creative problem-solving skills were equally met by her tenacity and persistence at delivering results… I particularly valued her input with higher level company direction and vision.”
After two years working in Shanghai Anna was anxious and burnt out. She had lost a lot of weight. She was active but never got enough sleep and didn’t think about what she was eating. She wanted to start a family but didn’t think she should because she didn’t feel OK. So she left her job and became a fitness instructor.
She loved having a creative outlet, making up routines and playlists. Anna would encounter people who felt they couldn’t take her spin classes because they didn’t know how to ride a bike. She made it her mission to remove perceived barriers and get people to say yes. “I really wanted people to just come to my class because I have awesome music and they will just have fun.”
The seed that would become myMomentum started here. Anna’s approach to life and business continued to mellow out as she reached her 30s then became a mom. She realized the benefits of “working well and smart.” To her this means taking the time to appreciate where you are and what you’ve got, and to take things as they come.
Raphaël (Technical Adviser) describes Anna as “Super down to Earth and
understanding of people’s lives. She understands people in what motivates them and what they need to get things done… She tries very much to keep the business focused on the people that she is trying to impact.”
Anna describes herself as “a true believer of doing what you love!” She works with people who are just as passionate as she is. She believes “people with passion can change the world for the better” (Steve Jobs). This is what drives everyone at myMomentum and what they hope will drive the app’s future users. Anna says “everyone should be doing something that they really love and if it’s not their 9 to 5 job it’s got to be somewhere else in their life.”
When asked about her ultimate goal with myMomentum, Anna replied “I think a lot of entrepreneurs would be like ‘global domination’, but it would just be really great to have made an impact on some people.” myMomentum will roll out to connect people and businesses in Vancouver in 2019, and they hope to reach other communities in the future.
Floffy stops and I have to pull her leash to make her move forward for what feels like the 100th time. Anna apologizes “She has only seen snow once or twice in her life.” I exchange the young dog for my phone and thank Anna for her time. She says “It was fun! Let me know anytime you want to walk Floffy!”