It was the early 2000s when Toronto tech entrepreneur and avid reader Allen Lau decided he wanted to make it easier to read books on his mobile phone. (Back when the phone of choice was the Motorola Razr.) “I love to tinker with electronic devices,” says Lau.

He knew he had a good idea, and assumed he wasn’t the only one thinking about doing it. “For any good idea you can safely assume that someone in Mumbai, someone in Beijing and someone in London or Paris, is independently and without you knowing it, executing on that idea already,” Lau says.

When Lau discovered that his friend, fellow entrepreneur Ivan Yuen, was working on a complementary web-based writing application, the idea expanded. In 2006, the duo created Wattpad, a multilingual application (now an app) that connects readers with original works of fiction generated by users from around the world.

Fifteen years later, Wattpad is a multi-platform entertainment machine, publishing user-generated original online content that often finds second life in books, TV series and films. After being was acquired by South Korean internet company Naver last May, Wattpad is finding new synergy. Together, Wattpad and  WEBTOON, a division of Naver that works in comics and animation, now reach more than 160 million global monthly viewers.

None of the above would have happened if Lau had gotten stuck refining his idea rather than quickly bringing it to market to test its value in real time.

“Ideas are cheap,” says Lau. “Execution really matters: get things done, iterate, test the market — and do it fast.”

Lau shares how Wattpad evolved from an idea to global phenomenon and offers insights on how to bring a “disruptive” product to market. (Hint: conventional wisdom doesn’t always apply.)

Read the full story and interview via StartUp HERE Toronto.