I founded 18Loop three and a half years ago after a long career in tech sales and an AmeriCorps stint helping Opportunity Youth prepare for college and careers. As a technology professional, I wanted to do something with tech to make an impact on society. After speaking with my friends and advisors and experiencing a fight against pediatric cancer firsthand, I decided to focus my nonprofit on fighting the disease. My approach was shaped by a course I took at MIT on Artificial Intelligence. The course, my advisors and my life's experience all told me that AI was ready to make an impact. 18Loop would deploy it in the form of Virtual Reality headsets (VR). There was a level of kismet in terms of our acceptance into the VR community. We are tied in some way today to Tripp, whose environments we deploy on Oculus hardware, AxonPark, whose CEO Taylor Freeman has connected us to the VR world in Silicon Valley, Immersed, whose VR collaboration environment is incredible and Embodied Labs who has inspired us and connected to us. Tripp and its CEO Nanea Reeves have been so wonderful that they require another dedicated blog post!
18Loop would be nothing with simply its technology. We required access to kids with cancer and that has been graciously afforded by the American Childhood Cancer Society (ACCO). The ACCO is led by Ruth Hoffman, who understands our needs as a nonprofit while balancing her organization's influence with cancer families. We love Ruth! Our first ACCO kid, Elizabeth, is a 16 year old experiencing a setback with Neuroblastoma. She will soon utilize our VR to cope with her pain and meditate through a difficult time. 18Loop VR can be used in the home environment or in the hospital, and we expect our Pilot to generate similar results to the very successful studies that have already been done (some of which are linked on OUR PROGRAM).
So, how did 18Loop get its name? I used to drive in a loop on Route 17 near our office in NJ. On these drives in my Toyota, I would dream of the business we were building and plan. I began to think of these drives as Route 17 Loops. When I searched that name, it was unavailable and I thought 18Loop was a great substitute. My mentality has been to embrace what I considered a "techy" name while running the nonprofit like a for-profit startup. So far so good. In the coming weeks I will introduce you more throughly to our team and partners. This month (September) is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider making a donation to 18Loop or the ACCO. God Bless!