Spotlight: Lin To
Updated: May 5, 2021
Interviewed by Lauren Hogan
Lin is one of the co-founders of Paper Crane Tech, a company which helps businesses realign and develop engaging digital experiences to better serve and deliver value to customers.
With a background in product management, operations, and analytics, Lin has built a career leading global initiatives for world-class data consultancy companies such as dunnhumby; as well as having managed data operations for unicorn tech startup Flexport. She has been successful at helping these companies grow, scale, and drive value in building smarter solutions and operational processes.
Not long ago, she, and her fellow female co-founders - Aggy and Ivy - decided to make the leap into the unknown. Along with her ‘company skill set’, as an entrepreneur she now does a multitude of things, to include creating and planning a recently held Women’s Day ‘Celebrating the Future of Women Leaders’ event.
Lin is passionate about diversity and equality, working to help close the gender gap within the digital space. She is on a mission with her cofounders to address this global issue by inspiring growth and change through Paper Crane Tech.
Read on to learn more about Lin's story; about the obstacles she had to overcome to start Paper Crane Tech, who has inspired her journey and what she does to stick to a routine in the unplanned life of an entrepreneur.
What was, or is, the largest obstacle preventing you from realising your dreams?
Self-doubt; I struggled a lot with this in my earlier career, but when I finally stopped doubting myself and started to celebrate my value, it unlocked a world of possibilities and opportunities that I was keeping out of my own reach. It’s a constant work in progress, but making the shift into starting up my own business has really helped me overcome a lot of self-doubt.
Self-doubt - something many of us can probably relate to! What would you try if you had no fear?
Skydiving or open water swimming – both absolutely terrify me, but are things I would love to try…one day.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Setting up my own tech company (Paper Crane Tech) with my two female co-founders. As someone who has worked in the corporate world for the majority of my career, it feels incredible to finally step out of my comfort zone and build something of my own; something that can represent my values.
Did you always want to work in tech, or did you want to do something else growing up?
When I was four, I wanted to be a lollipop lady – in England we have these ladies that hold a stick and help people cross the road…I honestly always just wanted to be someone as kind and helpful as my local lollipop lady. But, when I realised that it wasn’t really a career choice, I moved on and decided I wanted to be a police woman.
Very sweet! Tell us what you do, and what a day in your life looks like:
Paper Crane is a tech solutions and product company. We offer development, tech & data consultation, and we work with the community (workshops / trainings). As a start-up, every day looks a little bit different depending on the types of projects and products that we have on hand, but I do wear different hats – anything from marketing, client facing, running workshops, building partnerships to being the team’s chef!
With all that you have to do, what’s your most effective daily habit?
Going to the gym first thing in the morning because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. When I start off my day focused on myself and taking care of my health and wellbeing, it puts me in a positive mindset to conquer the things I need to do for the day. Also, as an entrepreneur, every day is a little bit different so just having one thing that is a daily routine really helps me ground myself and focus.
What is one of your biggest learnings through your entrepreneurial journey?
Just because you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean that you’re alone. What I have found throughout this journey is that if you can find and surround yourself with the people who share the same values; people who can help you and who you want to help, it becomes a much easier and more meaningful ride. I have found that the greatest value comes in the form of collaboration and building partnerships - working together to go further.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs or those aspiring to become one?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. If you have a mission or a calling to do something that you know you’re meant to do – don’t let anything stop you. There will always be roadblocks and naysayers, but if you truly understand your “why”, you will always find a way to eventually determine your “how”.
Who inspires you and why?
Leila Janah, the late founder and CEO of Samasource. She inspires me because she set out to prove to the angel investors and large corporations that there is immense value in a Profit for Purpose company, and she did what no one else dared to do in the face of doubt and rejection. I truly admire what she was able to achieve with her company, and their ongoing mission to end global poverty by educating and giving work to people in need.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
If you would like to find out more about Paper Crane Tech you can find them at: