Tappy Technologies Brings Experience and Insight to YSpace Markham

Nov 01, 2023

Wayne Leung blended his experience working in the family watchmaking business and a career in wearable tech into Tappy Technologies, a global wearable contactless payment technology company he launched in 2017. A few years in, Tappy Technologies had clinched a global tokenization license with both Visa and Mastercard, allowing brands to put its chip in anything from watches to jewelry and allow those wearing it to make payments with a simple tap just like their credit card. But Leung felt like something was missing from his experience as a CEO.

He was living in Hong Kong while many of his c-suite and developer team were based in Markham. He relocated to Toronto but it still felt a bit off. “We’d been so busy focusing on our business globally that we just hadn’t really been tapping into the local startup community,” he says. “We were confined to our own space – I’d been losing my opportunity to connect with other startups and like-minded communities.”

In early 2023, Tappy moved into YSpace Markham, York University’s incubator for growth-ready tech ventures. Leung saw it as an opportunity to be around those other like-minded founders he was craving connection with while at the same time expanding his knowledge surrounding finding talent in the region and funding resources like government support and grants. “In other regions that we’re expanding, I’m doing the same thing,” he says. “But more importantly, locally in Canada, if I’m based here, I should also find out more benefits of working with others in this community… so that's why I've chosen Markham and YSpace.”

He quickly found what he was looking for, a support network of entrepreneurs sharing their challenges and celebrating each other’s wins. For Leung, it’s proven a great opportunity to give back as well. The family business gave him a snapshot of what it felt like to work with the world’s biggest watch brands and working in wearable tech from 2008 to 2017 as it went mainstream helped him identify industry blindspots and opportunities.

Building Tappy Technologies over the last six years has taught him that sometimes the biggest challenges are the least expected. For example, the relationship-building side of the business has taken more bandwidth than creating the technology itself. These are the sort of lessons, Leung hopes to pass on at YSpace. “I'm coming back as a more senior type of startup, giving people mentorship and examples of why I’ve lasted six years and how and why I am still growing.”

He says that’s what draws him to Markham. The city has the resources and the ecosystem to support growth and he’s in the midst of growing. Markham has the largest concentration of tech firms per 1,000 residents among Canadian tech hubs with a population greater than 250,000 and Markham companies have registered 1,224 patents since 2000, according to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. He’s made it a mission to convince people it’s the right time to build a business. “People think it’s not a great time to do startups because of the economy,” says Leung. “(There are) programs and solutions to support startups – it’s not the end of startups.”