Loop’s Founder/CEO and CTO Share Their Secrets for Delivering a Standout Pitch
Loop, a Labs startup in Haifa, Israel, is on a mission to teach kids to code so they can give back to the community through their ideas and startups. Wasim Abu Salem, founder and CEO, and Muhammad Mitwaly, CTO at Loop, recently developed an app called Oseela through their startup and won first-place during the Pitch Showcase at WeWork Labs’ 5 Day Charge, a Pre-Launch Stage program making its way around the globe. Wasim and Muhammad spoke to Labs and shared their tips on everything from delivering a great pitch to making the most of their time at WeWork Labs.
WeWork Labs: Your company, Loop, wasn’t originally founded to develop the Oseela app. Take us through Loop’s timeline.
Wasim and Muhammad: We started Loop 2015 and worked with more than 11,000 students, teaching them coding and computer science. We helped them develop their own ideas and startups at an early age with three to four mentors helping them and teaching them things like mobile App, hacking, entrepreneurships, and web development. We collaborate with different tech companies and organizations. We are expanding to other locations. We’ve received different grants and awards, including from Facebook, Google, and MIT, Stanford.
The concept behind the loop is that after we teach the next generation, they will benefit from the community, and become part of the loop where they become either a mentor or founders of different a startup. Hence the name, Loop.
WeWork Labs: What is your product and where did the idea for Oseela come from?
Wasim and Muhammad: We were on a group trip to London, and to make things organized, we had to use a bunch of different apps (i.e. Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and plenty of other apps to be able to split money) so we came up with the idea of, why not just use one app that does all of these things very well and saves us more time? We created the app over five to six months. The audience for the app consists of group trips organized by schools or travel agencies, or just travelers.
WeWork Labs: What’s been the most difficult part of launching and growing your startup?
Wasim and Muhammad: Acquiring the right users at the beginning in order to iterate and receive feedback, and fixing the bugs and problems in the beginning was difficult. The original audience for us was individuals planning trips. We also asked our students to download the app and try it out and we got feedback from them. Now, we are targeting two to three organizations like schools that would like to try before we start doing marketing campaigns. One of the difficult things is handling all the feedback and keeping it in one place while gaining more users. We had around 200 users in the first two weeks which helped us fix a lot of bugs and problems.
WeWork Labs: Your team section was one of the best parts of your pitch. How did you find each other?
Wasim and Muhammad: The story goes that about two years ago, I (Muhammad) saw a video on Facebook where Wasim was giving a speech about Loop. This project that aims to teach school students coding and spread an education revolution and I was just out of high school and wanted to see what this program was. Luckily, my friend was a mentor at Loop so I asked her to get Wasim’s number and I started working as a mentor at Loop. And the last two years, we have been working together on a daily basis.
WeWork Labs: Other than the recent 5 Day Charge program in Tel Aviv, what other Labs sessions have you attended that have helped build your product or pitch?
Wasim and Muhammad: We had a meeting with Google and after that meeting, we received credits to use them without having to pay for it. We’ve also had meetings with Paypal to help us better understand how the split-cost feature works. We also participated in a lot of pitching sessions, marketing sessions, and Michal, our Labs Manager, helped us a lot. We showed her every stage of our app, and she gave us useful feedback.
WeWork Labs: What advice do you have for fellow Labs members to make the most of WeWork Labs’ programming?
Wasim and Muhammad: We recommend that every member takes advantage of the Labs Manager at their Lab because it’s very helpful. Ask the LM to help you based on your needs. And tell them what sessions would be helpful for you.
WeWork Labs: Congratulations on winning the Pitch Showcase at the 5 Day Charge! What advice do you have for future participants or founders who are preparing to pitch?
Wasim and Muhammad: We went over the pitch script multiple times and rehearsed together multiple times. We also took in the tips that the mentors gave us, especially around starting with a story and making things simple and to the point.
WeWork Labs: What tips do you have for members about dealing with nerves when pitching?
Wasim and Muhammad: Read the script multiple times and prepare, practice, and just do it. Just get up there and start, and you will definitely forget to say something, but it’s not as important as you think.
WeWork Labs: Any other advice for your fellow members at Labs?
Wasim and Muhammad: Everyone should participate in the 5 Day Charge if you have the opportunity to. It will help you focus on the idea and the product and the process for one week. And really give everything to the program, which is really needed for startups. There are not a lot of similar programs that offer these things to startups, so it’s really important. We would highly recommend it for every startup. I participated in several programs but this one was really high quality content and great speakers. It’s amazing to be a part of such community and to have had this opportunity to participate. We saw the quality and time that was put into the program, the entire process was very streamlined and it will undoubtedly continue to help us throughout the coming months and years.
To learn more about the Oseela app, check out the video below: