Gen Z Trading Prodigy Wins Over Wall Street Backers for Startup

20th November 2020

Gen Z Trading Prodigy Wins Over Wall Street Backers for Startup

Yoyo Chang turned a hunch born in an English high school cafeteria into a payments app supported serious, well-heeled investors.

When Yoyo Chang first told his parents that he wanted to start his own technology venture, they were alarmed: This was not part of the plan.



Paul and Pauline Chang had emigrated to the U.K. from Taiwan in 2003 so their son could learn English and eventually pursue an international business career, preferably at a global investment bank. Sure enough, Chang excelled in school. He also fell in love with the stock market at the age of 13, raking in £250,000 ($326,650) in trading profits for his family by the time he went to college in 2018.

But then Chang’s life took a turn. Rather than focus on his studies and save his money, he wanted to plow it into a startup. His idea was an app that would enable stores to accept payments directly from customers’ mobile phones, slashing transaction fees and eliminating the need for card readers and other hardware.

Worried his only child was taking on too much, Paul researched the complexities of payments infrastructure and learned it was tightly regulated and dominated by the likes of Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, not to mention banks. What made Chang, an 18-year-old freshman, believe he could jump into that world?

“I told my boy, ‘Don’t do it. It’s too difficult,’ ” Paul says with Pauline and his son at his side. “I told him to buy a house.”

“I didn’t listen!” interjects Chang, now 20, with a laugh. “I was naive.”

His mother shakes her head. “He still doesn’t listen,” she says.

Now Chang’s naivete is paying off. His venture, KodyPay, has morphed from a crazy idea he and some friends conceived in their high school cafeteria into a fledgling business. KodyPay raised $2.3 million from angel investors this summer. Chang made deals with a partner of International Business Machines Corp. and a subsidiary of Visa Inc. to build his technology. And KodyPay was ready to go live in November in cafes and shops at the University of York, where Chang is a third-year business management student. With the novel coronavirus forcing thousands of students to attend classes online throughout northern England, the plan is to try to release the app in January.

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