So, what exactly is an 18Loop? My friends, colleagues and Board members all asked this question at some point during our company formation process. The truth is that it alludes to a journey that I used to take in my Honda on Route 17 in Bergen County New Jersey.
I have run into a number of people who like to drive to focus and strategize and I also fall into this group. While I was studying Artificial Intelligence at MIT, I often got into my car and drank a coffee while thinking about how my learning could impact a business. Essentially, I was driving a circular path (loop) and ended up deciding that the appropriate tech name for my business was 17 Loop to commemorate my brainstorming drives on Route 17. After a domain search I realized that I had to change the number to 18 because of a conflict and a nonprofit tech company name was born.
I bring experience in sales in the technology world to this endeavor. There are many things that you can learn in sales, the greatest of which is that empathy and customer service are the keys to success. I expect that the sales lessons in my experience will lend themselves to this nonprofit as well.
After I wrapped up my last assignment in sales in 2014, I decided to volunteer for a year in the Americorps program. What I discovered was that training volunteers, leading groups and building relationships to further the advancement of opportunity youth in Newark felt a lot like leading tech sales client teams. I recruited volunteers from Goldman Sachs, delivered remarks with the mayor of Newark and developed a curriculum for the youth. Working in Newark was a reminder of the overlap in terms of mission and skills that often exists between for profit and nonprofit efforts.
After the business plan for 18Loop was written, I asked Russ Soper and Pat Nguyen to join our company as founding Board members. Russ is a veteran of the technology industry. He has been a Global CIO in finance and in his current role still runs Global operations for a large fintech company. He is wise, passionate and is also an avid musician and Vice Chair of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Pat is a sales leader that worked with me in several infrastructure services companies who currently consults for Vodafone. They both were eager to assist and provide guidance with the technology, fundraising and the management of 18Loop.
In recent weeks we have also added partners at Covington, who are providing all of our pro bono legal support. We are happy to work hand in hand with David Wildman and Jessica Milner at the firm.
Our website was designed and launched by Elevation Web Design, who offered us a grant to subsidize their work. It takes an extended team to drive fundraising and generate support and momentum and we are glad that so many have offered to help us as we proceed through the launch and pilot stages of the business. Soon we will measure what we hope to be many benefits of our Robots and VR headsets and move toward getting them into the hands of all pediatric cancer kids.