Think Dirty’s Lily Tse says purpose, inclusivity are key to building the right company culture


For Lily Tse, the founder and CEO of Think Dirty, understanding the importance of purpose and inclusivity are crucial to building a strong company with the right culture.

At the latest TechTO, Tse talked about how purpose and inclusivity aren’t always covered at conferences and panels dedicated to new startups.

“We’ve been to a lot of conferences and usually they tell you how to do very pragmatic, tactical things like how to grow your company, how to raise money, how to grow hack,” said Tse. “We are all founders, very interested [in] the problem we are solving. But the big part of it is…we don’t normally, properly, openly talk about why we care about our problems.”

Tse said that keeping a company’s purpose in mind not only helps founders during the challenging moments of the startup journey, but also helps to distinguish a company’s brand.

“Founding a startup is really hard…so you will see at some point, you might need to be reminded why you want to start your company,” said Tse. “In addition…having a purpose really helps your brand because it naturally stands out from the competition. Your branding will come across [as] very authentic and you can attract talent really easily to believe in your mission.”

To drive home this point, Tse talked about why she started Think Dirty, a mobile app that allows users to scan personal and skincare products and learn about the potentially toxic ingredients in them.

“Think Dirty is about bringing health to beauty,” said Tse. “When I build think dirty, part of my purpose is actually to build a culture that makes sure you got enough diversity, different people, building cool things and really believe in the mission.”

She added that her mother having cancer and working in advertising and “doing tons of pinkwashing campaigns,” also played a role in pushing her to launch Think Dirty.

While knowing your purpose is one part of the equation, Tse said that striving to build an inclusive team is also critical to creating a strong company. She said that inclusivity goes beyond gender, and requires considering things like race, life stages, thinking styles, and personality types. To help existing and future founders build diverse and inclusive teams, Tse pointed out three tools she uses when hiring employees.

Textio allows companies to run every single job posting through its augmented writing platform and see whether the language in their job postings is friendly to both men and women. is a personality screening tool that can help with eliminating bias during an interview process, especially as companies tend to lean towards hiring extroverts. Lastly, Tse suggests reading a book called Collaborative Intelligence, which can help founders learn about the thinking styles of their teams and themselves, and use this build better teams.

Overall, Tse said these tools can help founders establish a more diverse, inclusive culture for their businesses while keeping their business’ purpose in mind.

Watch the full presentation below:

The next TechToronto takes place on May 8. Get your tickets now!


Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.

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