Rapid advancements in technology have been driving growth and the development of tech startups, which play an vital role in the creation of disruptive and innovative solutions, a Qatari entrepreneur has said.
According to Social Media Solutions CEO Mohamed al-Muhannadi, the students participating in the third edition of the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA 2020) “have strong potential” in creating solutions that address some of the challenges and needs of today’s society.
Al-Muhannadi, who is also owner and CEO of Royal Communication, is the only Qatari mentor among AIA 2020’s more than 40 experts from the US, the UK, European Union, and Singapore, in addition to regional and local mentors.
AIA 2020, which will run until January 20, aims to provide future entrepreneurs from Qatar and the region the opportunity to work under the guidance of leading Silicon Valley mentors, and leverage an extensive global network comprising top experts in their fields to help them turn an idea into a startup in just 10 days.
Since day one, 30 teams have been created out of the 190 students that were accepted in the programme, which exposes participants to real-life experiences and experiments on how to develop and launch new tech ventures, in a real marketplace with real customer feedback.
Al-Muhannadi is mentoring four teams, which presented their ideas during ‘Startup Expo’ held recently at the Education City. One team designed a personal wallet for people with chronic diseases, so they can keep information and their medical history, he said. Another team, he said, created a tool that enables deaf people to “hear” using a watch, which utilises voice to text technology.
“The third team is working on an App that specialises on mental health...this team is developing a very powerful application to communicate with people with mental health issues, as well as with coaches, advisers, and consultants, thus creating a community around mental health,” al-Muhannadi explained.
The fourth team is focusing on an App that monitors the “health” of the car. The App helps car owners directly communicate with service centres by providing them with pre-data that would help avoid major malfunctions and unnecessary expenses either from the vehicle owner or the service centre, al-Muhannadi said.
“My teams are really good and they have captured the essence of the programme, which is based on different entrepreneurial methodologies; this enabled them to build the right solutions for the right customers, as well as using the right business models to generate profit. Most of the students had learned a lot in a very short span of time,” al-Muhannadi pointed out.
Asked about role of AIA in promoting the growth of tech startups, al-Muhannadi said: “Innovation is based on value and need...so an entrepreneur must bridge the gap between what the customer wants and products that would address those needs. That is the basic: ‘bring value to solve a need’.
“New technologies have become disruptive, yet essential tools, such as IoT, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, among others. The essence of any business is to utilise these technologies to add value.”
Some of the students participating in Arab Innovation Academy’s ‘Startup Expo’ where they presented their ideas and the progress of their business plans. PICTURE: Nasar K Moideen.