Interview with Chi Tran, CEO and Co-founder Loop
Tell us about Loop and what inspired you to start it? I found myself travelling a lot and though I would use coworking spaces like WeWork from time to time, I still found it hard to connect with people. It was almost as if collaboration wasn’t encouraged at these spaces.
Then I had a really enlightening conversation with my co-founder, Andrew Collins. He’s another Aussie who’s been based out of Shanghai for the last decade, and serendipitously we landed on the same solution of wanting to create something that galvanized collaboration. This all took place despite us being in completely different parts of the world.
It was unreasonable that people would go and work in Starbucks all day in isolation rather than connecting with likeminded people who were equally driven. It blew our minds that nothing out there did this effectively and we just knew that we had to change that. Humans are strong because we collaborate together to build things. When we endeavoured upon this challenge, the idea of giving humans everywhere their strength back was something that really inspired and drove us.
Well if it’s the weekend, the most truthful answer would be my four and a half year daughter wanting to run around and play! Seriously though, what gets me up is the opportunity to create something that can enable change and influence people’s day to day behaviour.
Many people can come up with an idea a day but I’ve been lucky enough to go through the agency world and work in technology and innovation, which has allowed me to actualize a number of the ideas I’ve had.
It doesn’t shock me that many people are eager to collaborate and build new things. I’m hoping with Loop, we can build a platform that makes this process easier.
What's the most important thing you're working on right now?
Right now, the main goal of my team and I is to move people out of wifi enabled cafes and into collaboration spaces that have more talent and resources to help build great ideas. Too many talented and passionate people are being left out of this movement of innovation by isolating themselves in these cafes or by working at home; we’re trying to bring them all together.
On top of this is an overarching goal of trying to disrupt (sorry had to use the word!) the way people work, where they work, and how they create meaningful products and solutions together. If you think about it, the last great shift in how people work was moving from outdoor labour and into factories or offices but other than that, has much changed? With technology so easily grasped, people should have alternative ways to discovering their life’s passion; that’s why this is so important.
I’d say the toughest decision was to start building our team in two different locations -- Singapore and Shanghai. On paper, it might seem crazy cause traditionally no one is really doing this. But to stay in line with what we’re preaching as a brand, what we’re encouraging people to do, we knew it had to be done. We had to live the ethos of the brand and really understand what it’s like for everyone to be location independent while still building the company. I’m glad we decided to do it, it’s been an awesome journey and we’ve learned so much about what it takes to collaborate across the globe and how we can make this easier.
What was your most memorable moment so far?
I’ll cheat and go with what we’ll call “memorable moments”. Over the last couple of months we’ve had the chance to share Loop’s story and what we’re doing with a number people and the reception has been unreal. I haven’t worked on anything that seems to receive the excitement that Loop garners.
It’s crazy, honestly. The exact people we want using our platform, entrepreneurs, freelancers, investors; they’re the people who seem to immediately get it. On one hand, it’s great validation but more so, it just pumps our team up even more to know that we’re building something that people are really buying into.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs what would that be?
I wish I could recycle all my experience into one concise phrase to answer this question, but I’ll pick just one: start with a global strategy first. After this, then localize the strategy to validate your market. If you can do this, then you’ll have more confidence about your expansion/scalability of your idea as you validate and dominate your market.
In 5 years from now: How did Loop change the world?
Hopefully, people will be able to look back and say that we made it so that more people are able to create their own futures rather than having to apply for one. Often times, I see our own value being quantified by the amount of success stories and successful ventures that are able to come out of our platform. We’re trying to tie together this collective conscience of innovation and propel entrepreneurship and society into the future.
What do you think of Singapore’s Startup Scene?
It’s definitely seeing an influx of new talent but a startup scene is a startup scene. Not to be negative, but if people stopped looking at a “startup scene” as a place to be or a place to invest, then maybe we’d all spend more time building things that really matter. And I mean, that’s part of the vision behind Loop. How can we give everyone location independence so that it doesn’t matter where you are at the end of the day? That’s what we’re solving.
What are 3 things you want our readers to remember about your company?
- Collaboration is the currency of the day. Talent and resources are diffused throughout the world. We’re going to have to marry the two if we want to continue to progress. We can’t continue to put up walls and work in isolation if we want to remain dominant.
- We fight for the underdogs. Technology is the great equalizer and we believe in using that power to make it that if you have the ambition and work ethic, then you can make it happen. Loop is all about creating more opportunities for those that want it bad enough.
- Don’t settle for the status quo. We’re trying to break people out of the mentality of how they approach work. That’s why we say “Break out. Loop in.” Break out of your boring routine, break out of being chained to your desk, break out of your 9 to 5 and loop into a world of people who are passionate building, creating, and innovating.
interview by Regina Larkö