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  • Writer's pictureThe Leaders Show

Hasan Abo-Shally: Forbes 30 Under 30 Tech Entrepreneur



Hasan Abo-Shally is a multidisciplinary tech entrepreneur and social innovator focused on creating meaningful, scalable solutions with lasting social impact.As the CEO and co-founder of GoodDeeds.AI, a startup harnessing advanced-AI for social good, he envisions a world where everyone is empowered to fulfil and expand their goodness potential.Before founding GoodDeeds.AI, Hasan held product management roles at Microsoft's cyber-security team, at RiseUp — a fintech startup empowering financially struggling families, and at several other companies. Hasan first began his tech career in high school by selling his self-created programs, and then held various software engineering and product design roles before transitioning to product management.Alongside his tech career, Hasan has been actively engaged in social impact and entrepreneurship. In 2013, at 22, he founded the grassroots NGO "Hasoub", raising over $10M to promote tech entrepreneurship as an economic lever for the Arab/Palestinian minority in Israel. In 2016, Hasan established "Ibtekar," a social business providing affordable STEAM education to underprivileged children and youth, emphasising technology, craft, and digital-making. He has also initiated and advisednumerous other local and international community-based initiatives, leveraging technology and design to create effective social impact. Today, Hasan serves on the board of Hasoub and is the chairman of Hasoub Labs.Hasan holds an MBA from the Technion and a B.A. in communication and interactive media from ​​IDC-Herzliya, where he also served on the research team of the Media Innovation Lab (miLAB).Among several prestigious listings and fellowships, Hasan was selected for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2017, and his TEDx talk in 2019 was featured by the TED team, reaching tens of thousands of people.


 

You grew up in a marginalized village with scarce opportunities, but you had big dreams and a strong sense of creativity. How did your childhood and adolescence shape your future and how did you start your tech career?


I grew up in Ar'ara, an Arab village nestled in the northern part of our country. Like most Arab-Palestinian towns in the country, my village is considered low socioeconomically. I remember myself as a kid judging people’s wealth by whether the street lights in their neighbourhoods were on or not. Ours were off, still off.


But sometimes, creativity is fostered by scarcity, not by abundance. And the people surrounding you can fuel this fostering. In my case, I was blessed with parents who are always pushing me to create and do more, especially my dad. If I would define my dad in one word, I think it would be a “fixer.”He fixes broken things, whether it’s relationships, people, or electronics. He has endless empathy and is always there to help. He is my inspiration.


My parents put me into a special educational program in a nearby town, where I remember developing my first ever website. I was pumped by the sensation of creation, the feeling that you make something that brings value to people, and since then I couldn't stop creating.


In high school, I started developing and selling software, and eventually I landed my first job at a tech startup in Tel-Aviv.


What inspired you to use your innovative skills and initiatives in the tech industry to benefit the community and have a broad social impact?


Growing up witnessing inequalities, injustice, and suffering has cultivated in me a deep sense of justice, a strong urge to drive a positive change in the lives of others, and a striving to help create a prosperous world.


We are each born in different circumstances, with different privileges and burdens. I believe it’s our responsibility to navigate our circumstances and do our best to utilize our privileges to make the world a better place, whether it’s the entire world or the individual worlds of those around us. This is a continued pursuit, full of exploration, experimenting, and reflection.


I’m a Muslim who believes religion is a holistic way of living, and I see “worshipping” in everything I do; to me, it’s a function of the intentionality and effort we each apply to our actions, where good intentions and diligent efforts are what matters, and where the magnitude of the change we can effect is the result of the effort we invest in our intentions.


But it’s not just about what we believe in, but also about those who believe in us, the people we surround ourselves with, and the ones who fuel our inspiration and motivation to keep pushing everyday. I’m grateful to so many people here, but I will dedicate this appreciation to my loving wife and best friend, Sujud.


What is the hardest decision you have taken so far that has been decisive to reaching your goals?


In my journey, I've faced several challenging decisions. One of the hardest was choosing to leave my job to fully dedicate myself to Hasoub, despite the financial pressure. It was a risk, one that even led me to spend two years sleeping behind a fridge, but I felt strongly that it was the right path. This experience taught me that when you strive to do good, goodness tends to find its way back to you.


On a different level, another challenging decision relates to my multifaceted identity as “a Muslim Arab Palestinian Israeli” (different order?). Recently, I wrestled with the choice of dedicating my time to founding a global startup (GoodDeeds.AI) versus focusing on pressing local issues, such as crime in my community. This duality is part of the complexity and richness of my identity; it gives me the opportunity to serve as a bridge but also presents challenges when deciding where to concentrate my efforts.


Being at the crossroads of cultures and identities, I feel both the blessing and curse of these intersections. There's a constant balancing act between my desire to belong somewhere and the expectation to serve as a connecting point between different worlds.


What is a significant achievement on your path to success that you've accomplished thus far? What were some of the things that helped you get there, and how did you tackle the difficulties that arose along the way?


On a nice hill in my village sits a very beautiful 80-year-old building, which was a school until 13 years ago. I was among the last generations who studied there before the school was moved to a newer building.


In recent years the abandoned building turned into a place for vandalism, addicts, and idle youth - a place of negativity and despair.


We at Hasoub partnered with my village's municipality and authorities to turn the building into Hasoub Garage — a tech and innovation center that serves our people and community. A place of hope!


We had many difficulties and challenges with the construction work, fundraising, permits, and politics…, but we fought and persisted until we successfully transformed the place, merging authenticity and innovation in its outer design and inner activities.



Countless people have helped Hasoub Garage become a reality; the community donated and supported, Hasoub team worked hard, many volunteered, and really, numerous others have helped in the process! But if in this space I could only thank one person, it would be my dear friend Rabea Zioud, who’s today the CEO of Hasoub; he's hustled relentlessly to make this inspiring project happen!


What feelings do you experience as you witness the developments in your village thanks to your efforts and initiatives to advance technology for a grassroot social impact?


My parents' home is next to the Hasoub Garage, so I definitely wake up with a smile and a sense of pride and hope when I see the building with the Hasoub logo on it!


But deep inside, I feel an intense sense of accountability to live up to our promise and responsibility of filling the place with activities and projects that drive real impact to our people and community. We’re on it!


You are absolutely a role model to young people coming from marginalized areas who want to make their way to the innovation and tech industry aiming to level up their communities. If you could give them any piece of advice or lesson learnt, what would it be?


Stay curious and ask the hard questions, also to yourself. Accept the paradoxicality that comes with living at intersections, seek out networking opportunities, and expand to diverse circles. Never forget your roots, where you came from, who your people are and where you belong. It’s hard, but believe, keep pushing, and never shy away from seeking help!


Reach out to me at HasanAboShally@gmail.com if you think I can be of any help.


Do you plan on undertaking any new initiatives in the near future?


I’ve always had the urge for new initiatives, as there are still endless problems to solve. While much of my past work was local, I am now taking a leap onto the global stage.


My partner Nazih and I have embarked on a mission to maximize the impact of changemakers across the globe using advanced artificial intelligence through our new initiative, GoodDeeds.AI. Our mission is to empower people to help others more efficiently and effectively, and we envision a prosperous world, where every organization, community, and individual is empowered to fulfil and expand their goodness potential.


We're excited about the journey ahead. Follow us at here and #staytuned!

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