Startup Spotlight: WorkAround
Startup Spotlight: WorkAround
Meet Wafaa Arbash- CEO and Founder of WorkAround, an online platform that provides companies in the US in need of business solutions such as data management with quality, cheap, and fast solutions by tapping into a talented international population of displaced people.
GH: What is WorkAround?
WorkAround is an online platform that provides companies in the US in need of business solutions such as data management with quality, cheap, and fast solutions by tapping into a talented international population of displaced people.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did WorkAround get started?
The idea for WorkAround came while writing my dual master thesis in Sustainable International Development and Conflict Resolution at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University.
As a Syrian, I constantly used my studies and discussions both inside the classroom and outside to reflect on what was happening in Syria. I was planning to work with and support refugees through aid organizations, but I discovered that we can’t keep providing aid forever. There are constantly crisis’ happening around the world and humanitarian aid can’t keep up with everything. Providing aid is not a sustainable way for anyone to move forward, rather we need to create economic opportunities. As part of my thesis, I researched what kind of initiatives had been successful tools in the past to help empower people to take control over their lives. The thing that showed up again and again in the research was economic empowerment. Based on my knowledge of the Syrian context, I knew that many were highly educated and y had access to the internet. This is where this idea for WorkAround came from. I felt I needed to be part of a solution not only to the Syrian crisis, but also for many displaced people.
GH: How did you build/ are you thinking about building your team?
Our amazing team was built through the Heller Startup Competition at Brandeis university. I came there with the hope of forming a dedicated and talented team that would take the idea forward and be able to implement it in reality. We are fabulous team of three with Jennie Kelly and Shadi Sheikhsaraf all of us students then, with expertise across the areas of partnerships, strategy, finance, and marketing. Individually, each one contributed her part and we ended up winning that first competition- leading us to our current success in being a MassChallenge Finalist and securing our first handful of clients..
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
We believe that by empowering people to earn income, they can take care of their lives, education, health and their families which helps them positively integrate within their host communities.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
Well, that’s something we face on daily basis as many starts up do. However, what has been helping us through this journey is keeping our faith in our mission, what we are doing and never giving up.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
Our first customers gave us invaluable insight into what our goals were for the future of WorkAround. Our first initial customers were attracted to us because of our social mission, but as time proceeded we realized that our services were competitive enough and attractive enough to attract business purely based on our quality of work, low cost, and fast turnover. Since then we have proceeded with that route, attracting small companies looking to scale.
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
The Boston ecosystem is the groundwork for our success. Our team met through the university network that is a huge component of the Boston ecosystem, and as we have grown, the supportive community of MassChallenge has put potential partners, new clients, law firms, and technical experts our fingertips.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?
I believe that the Boston ecosystem is very diverse and has so much to offer. However, it could be more effective if there is a database for all the startups and initiatives that are happening in Boston so entrepreneurs can collaborate more to find solutions for their challenges.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
One of the best pieces of advice we heard was that we don’t have to figure it all out at once, one step at a time.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
One of the best thing that happened to us was to be selected to be one of the finalists at MassChallenge where we can share our experiences with many other startups, be part of the ecosystem and meet with great mentors and experts . We are so glad to be in Boston, which is a hub for entrepreneurs at the heart of innovation.
GH: What does the future hold for WorkAround?
WorkAround is growing fast. We hope to have at least 10 new customers by the end of the year and we plan to streamline our bootstrapped software solution into a customized platform.