In times where talk in this region about the tech world being so hostile to female entrepreneurs, a rising star is proving everyone wrong and showing that it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, because at the end of the day your success will not be determined by your gender, but by how great you are and how amazing your product is. This is the point Hanna Aase, the founder of Wonderloop made when she decided to take on the entrepreneurial road and challenge a fierce and competitive market: social media apps. Now before you shout “Oh, another one trying to replicate Facebook”, let me just stop you there because she isent creating another Facebook, she’s disrupting how we see social media and creating a new way for us to connect, network and get to know each other. But before rushing into the app and what its all about, a quick overview of who Hanna is!
So Hanna, what inspired you to jump on the entrepreneurial roller coaster at such a young age?
I lived alone in my own house since just turning 14, and while I may have had a comfortable upbringing, I wash´t happy as a person. I had lost all the closest people in my life and the only thing that didn’t chang was that Oprah was still on TV in our living room. You could say she took over raising me. The only time I felt joy while being alone was when Oprah gave away opportunities on TV to people who needed it, and made them pretty much the happiest people on earth. From that point on I started thinking about how we all can become life changing people like Oprah, how I can enable everyone to be able to give and connect just like she does. What I realized is that we do favors and connect our friends to people in our circle when they need it, but what would make us do it for a stranger? The conclusion was always that the person would have to become less of stranger, you would have to see who they were first and become familiar and comfortable with them! But there is just no time to meet every person in the world or have that first coffee meeting with someone, right? What if you could see every person in the world with a click of a button? That would change everything. You speed up how many people you get to meet in your life, you’d feel you had met them just after seeing their video intro. We’re talking about something different than just scrolling through photos. Wonderloop is the new social network I launched, where you get to build familiarity with strangers through video introductions instead of pictures and statuses. The purpose is to ultimately change the way we give, hire, invest and connect by changing the way we see each other. This is all I have ever wanted to do, getting everyone into that Oprah set and making sure my app changes their lives for the better.
What makes the app such an innovative product?
There is no app that adopts video introductions as its main entry point. There isn´t a search tool that is good for looking up people you haven´t meet yet. There really isn´t a great tool for meeting new people at all and getting a good feel of them. (LinkedIn advices against connecting to people you haven´t met ). The closest thing we actually have are dating apps, but we believe we need a broader tool where it´s about people and not the connection between them, because connections are something people can approach themselves, getting to know the people is what we ought to be focusing on. Wonderloop is the only service where you can shorten down the time needed to get a first impression of a person in your own privacy without necessarily being face to face with the person in question.
What are your goals for the future of Wonderloop? Where do you see it heading?
Right now people use Wonderloop to meet new people for coffee, to find people when they travel to a new place. Companies use it to look for new employees and networks use hashtags to see who is in the network.
My end vision for Wonderloop is simply to be able to see every person in the world with a click of a button. To take down time it takes to get acquainted with a new person, to have us meet as many people as possible during our life, so that the odds of connecting with life changing people becomes higher. My vision is to get you to become Oprah and have access to a huge audience you can connect with comfortably. And personally, I’d like to see this network grow to become a place where you can give away anything, whether it´s money or opportunities, as long as you feel comfortable doing it by seeing the person and who they truly are. That´s why we already now encourage people to share what they do or have done in life and to share what they want to do. When only allowing 10-20 seconds for the video intro, you can be on point, honest about yourself and daring to share what you want in life so that the world can respond to it.
Our next step at Wonderloop is to raise a 1M seed round and hire more talented people to work on the product and marketing.
What are some of the biggest adversities you’ve faced while building your own path? Biggest successes?
One of the biggest hurdles for me has been the chicken and egg challenge. Basically, it’s the issue that no one will invest in your company before you have a finished product. And building a technical product with designers involved is quite expensive and impossible without substantial investments. I solved it with covering the cost myself which cost me a lot, and then an investor went in and helped finance the launch of our first version, which we didn’t have an enough budget for, which is why we decided to go for a soft launch. Sometimes it seems impossible to solve this dilemma, but I guess in many ways you can also call this the biggest success for our startup. From a Norwegian stand point we have probably gotten more international press than any other social consumer app on the market, so that’s a great achievement on its own!
You’re an iconic entrepreneurial figure in scandinavia, do you see the region as full of potential for entrepreneurs?
Full of potential for entrepreneurs, yes. If the necessary system for building and incubating tech companies is there, not so sure! It’s a mix of lack of support systems and lack of government interest in the entrepreneurial scene. Moreover, there isn’t an established Entrepreneurship-focused culture amongst the people here. We need to believe more in ourselves and what young companies can do, have higher goals and support each other rather than thinking it´s wired if one is not living the more traditional life everyone is accustomed to. We were grateful at the end to have the support of the Norwegian Government, which makes us push even harder to show that a Norwegian start-up can set it´s mark in the tech world and can pave the way for other Norwegian startups to join in the tech revolution.
Are there any mentors or public figures you look up to?
This one is obvious for me, Oprah!
What advice could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Give away equity to an advisory board or developers early. In reality, very few people are willing to help you in an extended way without there being anything in it for them. It is just the way it is. So share as much as you can to make it happen. And also, do Yoga to not go crazy with all the work! Also, remember that it is necessary to sacrifice other things in life if you want it bad enough. Often we want big changes and mind-blowing achievements but without wanting to change for it. What are some quotes that you live by?
I don´t, I believe that if you are constantly in need of external inspiration then you’re not doing what you are passionate about. My internal inspiration is picturing users meet life changing people. That´s all I need to live by.
Any special thing for our readers?
Wonderloop is in the App Store as invite-only, but we will approve all readers of Gulf Elite. We made the app invite-only to focus on creating a great community rather than just going for a high number of users in the beginning. I believe Gulf Elite audience is the right fit for our app, and we encourage them all to join and use the hashtag #GulfElite so that they can start building a community on our social network!
Picture Credit: Wonderloop