Brian Friedman attended a formal boarding school in New Hampshire where dress code was enforced with an iron fist and students attended chapel every Monday morning. After his authoritarian experience in high school, he headed to Lehigh University where he studied materials science and engineering as well as product design and was given the opportunity to start the entrepreneurship club. While attending Lehigh, Brian also worked for Red Bull as a Student Brand Manager. In the back of his mind, however, he knew his experiences in high school and college had prepared him for a much different path.
A Successful Mentor Recommends a “Leap of Faith”
“A fellow advisor and mentor recommended that I apply to Draper University,” says Brian. “He is a very successful entrepreneur, and I knew if he told me to go then it would be worth taking the leap of faith. I was right, after all! For the first time I felt that it was possible to dream about anything.”
Most of Brian’s fellow classmates at Lehigh didn’t share his strong drive to start a venture, with the majority going to work as technical sales reps with materials companies in the middle of the US or as lab assistants in dark rooms throughout New Jersey. But Brian believes that his experience at Draper University allowed him to take advantage of his creativity and also meet other like‐minded individuals. Brian actually met his two co‐founders, Sambhav Galada and Allen Houng, at Draper University, and they all hit it off immediately.
Sambhav Galada is the Head of Product of Loopd. He pursued his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M. Sambhav has implemented and designed an ARM low power chip for wearable technology that enables users to get feedback on their personal fitness analytics.
Allen Houng is the Head of Software of Loopd. Allen graduated with honors in electrical engineering in Taiwan and produced an award‐winning gesture‐recognition engine via FPGA application. Allen has been featured on TechCrunch and StartUp Weekend Blog for his startup called Drimmit, which he built by himself from the ground up full stack.
During the program Brian learned about new trends that were the bleeding edge in Silicon Valley, including 3D printing, space mining, anti‐aging pharmaceutical and blockchain technologies. He also learned that in order to build a scalable business you need to stay focused and conquer one problem at a time.
The idea for Loopd was conceived during a competition at Draper. The night before, Brian had seen a video of the Budweiser Buddy Cup, which gave people the ability to exchange Facebook information by tapping glasses. The next day in BizWorld, a startup contest, his team had to create and sell a wristband concept. Immediately he thought of BuddyBand, which was the initial idea for Loopd, but since then the concept has evolved.
“Our team put in several hours to develop our initial prototype and business model. We are a hard working group and while at Draper University we learned that you need to execute as a team if you want to build a great company,” Brian says.
After Pitch Day (and Some Refinement) Loopd Is Born
Brian and his team were in the top 10 on pitch day, the culmination of the program and what every student works toward while at Draper. While their idea was applauded by many, it was also questioned by the panel of experts, which helped Brian and his co‐ founders refine their concept for Loopd. Since pitch day they’ve raised $1.2MM from Tim Draper, Marc Benioff, Rick Dalzell and other notable angel investors.
Loopd is a relational analytics platform that measures proximity‐based human interactions and engagement for corporate events. Loopd is the industry’s only bi‐ directional solution that enables attendees to exchange contact information, collect marketing materials and passively check in to speaker sessions. Using physical analytics, marketers are able to have a more sophisticated understanding of their most valuable business relationships and bring clarity to murky ROI measurements. Additional use cases for Loopd are boundless, from helping healthcare workers glean details about patients instantly, to facilitating military ground troop communication, to turning handshakes into information swaps.
In the past 12 months, he and his team have designed and built a complete analytics platform, iOS and Android app and bi‐directional beacon. Loopd won Wearable Tech Product of the Year, was selected as a top‐eight finalist for smart data and enterprise at SXSW Accelerator and was selected as top 48 finalist at CeBit CODE_N. Since the company’s launch at SXSW, the team has closed its first enterprise deal with Box, and has Accenture, Salesforce and Cisco in the final stages. They have also assembled a great team of 15 amazing people in San Francisco and Taiwan who have skills in machine learning, wireless protocols, big data infrastructure and mobile development.
“Right now we are focused on building the next version of Loopd, which will be more cost effective, powerful and feature rich. Over the next eight months our team plans to power 20 Fortune 2000 Corporate Conferences with our hardware solution and 40 high quality events with our software solution. In the future, our technology will be the leading offline analytics provider for MRO in health, manufacturing, retail and developing nations worldwide. And this is all because of Draper University,” Brian finishes with a big smile.