How we got here (Founder Letter)

April 24, 2024

March 29, 2024

Welcome. I’m Liwordson, but you can call me Li, like my friends do. I’m the president of TMRRW Labs, the company that built the Welcome Platform.

While the Welcome Platform now has its own dedicated team, I'm still involved working with our partners and sharing our story. But I should set the record straight: I didn't come up with this myself, and I didn’t stumble upon some stroke of genius. The reality is, it all started with an opportunity falling into our lap.

My mom was the original Welcome Platform.

If I saw a therapist (I probably should) - I believe that they would say that I’ve spent the past decade working to distract myself from a traumatizing childhood.

Although my family fled genocide in Sri Lanka and my own origin story was defined by being part of an immigrant family - by burying myself in my work, I remained oblivious to those that followed in our footsteps and how they were suffering through the process.

It wasn't until a colleague from our local immigration partnership reached out for help, that I would face the issue myself. During the pandemic, Refugees and immigrants were lost, unable to access essential services in their new homes. Moving to a new country is a socially, financially and mentally tough experience. The first few days could set the tone of optimism for a bright future, or leave families in despair.

So, we collaborated with our community, engaging dozens of local organizations and built technology that could bridge the gap. Our goal? To help newcomers access services, integrate with everything they need all in one single place and most importantly use technology to foster real connections in their new homes. This is the cornerstone of community retention.

But how did a single app evolve into a platform that we hope will be dozens of apps over the next year? Well, we owe that to my mom.

When my family immigrated to Toronto – a city known for its multiculturalism – circumstances shortly led us to a predominantly white, blue-collar community when I was just three. Fleeing domestic violence, my mom was given three relocation options, she chose Sarnia, the option that was the furthest away.

I’ll skip the sad stuff. The summary is - building a life from scratch was tough. She had 3 kids under 4, didn’t speak English and her closest family was over 3000 miles away… But we made it through. She went to college, got a job and we got by. 

Now, what does this have to do with the welcome platform? Let me explain.

Once we had a half stable foundation, our two-bedroom apartment became a safe haven for East Asian women escaping domestic violence from the GTA. These families stayed with us, sometimes for weeks or even months, as my mom helped them get on their feet. At times, my mom and sister gave up the bed they shared for our guests. There was really no limit to what we’d give up to welcome them.

What I witnessed blew my mind. How in just 2–3 months did these families get their whole lives together. This had taken us years to do ourselves… Rip off?

My mom got them started learning English at our local adult learning centre, applying for jobs with Goodwill, applying for college and most importantly fast tracked their path to finding friends, family and community, through the church and other organizations.

My mom was the original Welcome Platform.

I always wanted to do Karate. We couldn’t afford it, though. But the little boy who stayed in our house, he got to do Karate. And that’s really freaking awesome.

So, this is our mission: we want to help welcome 1 million newcomers, fast-track their new lives, and help them find prosperity… Let's see you try and top that mom ;) 

I joke. Love you mom. 

Thanks for reading.

- Li