Well of Change Post-Mortem


by kevtsoi

This is an official annoucement from the Well of Change team that we are shutting down our operations effective immediately. It has been an amazing journey with everyone these past couple of years, and I want to thank all of our supporters from the bottom of my heart. Our vision for WoC was to create a new way for people to contribute to their favourite charity or non profit. Although we were unable to achieve this goal, I truly hope that someone will. So, I want to spend these last few minutes sharing what we’ve learned in hopes that someone else will take the next step in carrying forward this vision.

One of the key assumptions we had for Well of Change was that we would create a whole new class of services and transactions that could not exist in the current marketplace.  For example, I would never think to teach someone how to code or play the guitar for money, but for charity I’d do it. Works the same on the demand side as well. On Well of Change, I paid for services that I otherwise wouldnt have bought. Money is going to a good cause and I also get something in return like learning to speak mandarin or how to make sweet and sour pork, so why not? We actually proved a part of this assumption correct with our Skills Drive. For those who havent attended one of our Skills Drive events, it is an in person event where we have our attendees essentially sell their skills to each other, with the money raised going to charity. The purpose of these events was to short circuit all the hurdles of the web matching process (user experience, chicken and egg problem, conversions, etc) and get straight to the heart of the matter, which was to match people and have them transact.  Our events were successful at the matching portion, and to a certain extent, the transaction portion (alot of people paid for services up front). The issue that we did not forsee was that a large percentage of the transactions would not complete, even in the cases where they were already paid for. Even worst, we had an extremely high churn rate, which intuitively made sense since many of our users didnt even fully complete their first transaction. We tried a whole bunch of things to convert those transactions (and I’m sure theres a ton of other things we could have done), but to no avail. What I started to realize and now believe to be the issue is that many of the services offered and purchased were just not that important to our users.  They were mostly for fun and on the low priority list.  So our advantage of being able to match people (because of the “what the heck its for charity” motive) also became our achille’s heel as these types of transactions were not important enough to be completed. Crap!

What I would do differently:

What I’ve come to realize is that just because you have the skills to do something, doesnt mean you can make a service out of it. I am a skilled programmer, but I dont know the first thing about teaching a class on it. I would have to market my class, sell it to interested clients, figure out what and how to teach, and a whole bunch of other things to make the experience a positive one for both my students and myself.  These are all real barriers for someone to convert their skills into an offering.  With WoC, we were able to remove the friction for someone to agree to doing it, but it doesnt eliminate the barriers.  As mentioned with WoC, we focused on things that were as far away from already existing services as possible. Next time around, I would focus on the opposite end of the spectrum, either on existing service providers, or on converting individuals who are very close to it and try to help them with the transition.  Its really important for the buyers to value the services as well. Getting a yes and payment just doesnt cut it. You need happy and repeating customers, and the only way to do that is to make sure that the services are of high value and are actually important to the customer.

There’s tons more challenges that we came across, but it would take forever to document all of them. That’s also the beauty of being a first time entrepreneur.  I was naivy enough to just dive in. Had I know all the problems ahead of time, would I have jumped? Maybe its best to let someone commit first, and only after do you spin all the beans.  I’ve actually seen a couple of very promising new sites that carry a very similar vision to ours. Hopefully, we can see this vision come to fruition.


Kevin Tsoi




by christinetho

I love and still believe in the idea of Well of Change, but we’re sad to announce that we will be closing this chapter of the book. Although, we do promise to comeback and revive after we have recharged our engines (and our bank book$). I would like to thank our team who have been so dedicated to this endeavour. Over the past few years, there are so many *fantastic* members that have supported us and volunteered their time. Drum rooooooll….

  • Alex Corotchi
  • Bashir Rabbat
  • Bonnie Lui
  • Christine Ho
  • Cindy Chen
  • David dela Cruz
  • Emmanuel Rodriguez
  • Frances Ho
  • Gareth Holliday
  • Gary Leung
  • Guowei Ding
  • Helen Acorn
  • Ian Mason
  • Karen Clumpus
  • Kathy Chan
  • Kevin Tsoi
  • Kristina Lugo
  • Lillian Chan
  • Lin Ye
  • Mike Hao
  • Nasir Virani
  • Patricia Delle Monache
  • Renjie Butalid
  • Ron Kwok
  • Ruby Ku
  • Rulix Batistil
  • Saman Malik
  • Sarah Stewart
  • Shawn Saraga
  • Sheryl Beckford
  • Steve Yang
  • Suma Komarraju
  • Sunny To
  • Sylvia Ho
  • Tee Tee Ho
  • Tracey Mori
  • Valencia Rodrigues
  • Zaheed Poptia

and many more supporters…

We’d also like to thank our supporters which have been invaluable… INVALUABLE… to making Well of Change achieve so much.

Financial Sponsor

  • Sanjay Singhal and Fusenet/Aquanta
  • Anito Ko, Christy Luo, Ling Chung and the team at Power Unit
  • Elisabeth Mozel-Jury, National PR/Start Something with ALESSE

Advice and Services

  • Allyson, CarolAnn, Cheryl, Danielle, Geraldine, Lisa, Norm at SiG@MaRS
  • Anfernee, Anshula, Assaf, Mia, Nogah at YSEC
  • Anthony, Susan and Roxanne at Miller Thomson
  • Ben Hum at NAAAP
  • Bonnie at BLEvents
  • Christine Lu at IMPACT
  • Daniel at Focal Point Photography
  • Deborah Gardner at Volunteer Toronto
  • Dominic at HRPossibilities
  • Dorothy Engelman and Catie Drewery at GetInvolved
  • Julie McDowell and Angela Loknath at ClearlySo
  • Leisure Rules
  • Michelle D’Angelo, Elaine, Ming chung at DREAMS
  • Ming Chung, PuzzleCreations
  • Peter at South Side Muy Thai Kickboxing
  • Psalms 91:1
  • Rebecca Llewelly at Children’s Aid Foundation
  • Susan Horvath and Debra Kwinter at Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Thomas Mak and Marcus Cheung at PureGolf

Our next round, I would do a few things different. We’ll concentrate on aligning participant’s incentive with our own goals. We are a non profit and so many people were ready to support us. We just needed to give them better tools and content to make it easier for them to help us spread the word. Given our technical background, I’m excited for to really leverage “Lean Startup” concepts to discover product-market fit. If you are starting a new endeavour and business check out Eric Ries. I’m a Lean Start Up enthusiast.

The most gratifying part of the past two years have been the people. I’ve been able to meet and work with wickedly awesome people. They have opened up my eyes to fantastic organizations that do great work. I’ve met so many friends that will be with me for life. Professionally, I’ve been able to hone my public speaking skills and reach out to a new audience that I would never have previously engaged with. Business pitch competition, judging panel and even a gig as an ‘entrepreurial role model’ 🙂

Lastly, I’d like to thank my partner in crime, Kevin Tsoi. we’ve been through the ups and downs of a roller coaster together. Wouldn’t have been able to go through this wonderful experience without you.

Well of Change site walkthrough

by kevtsoi


Flash from the Past

by christinetho

Office, Wireframes and the Staff


Skills Drive