GITEX: Young Saudis shine with innovative startups

GITEX: Young Saudis shine with innovative startups
Updated 16 October 2014

GITEX: Young Saudis shine with innovative startups

GITEX: Young Saudis shine with innovative startups

The Sheikh Rashid Hall hosted almost all government entities. The Saudi booth was one of them. This year, 28 Saudi companies attended Gitex under the umbrella of the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA).
The authority — which was established in January 2013 — is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and aims to develop the Saudi nonoil sector. “We develop the sectors in which Saudi Arabia has strengths, such as food, ICT, plastic, petrochemicals,” said an SEDA team member a GITEX.
Asked about the criteria SEDA follows in its choice of events, he said: “We choose our attendance generally according to some criteria, among them the number of visitors, and age of the exhibition.”
Then SEDA communicates with all government agencies across the country, raising interest and support companies who wish to attend. Once the communications and interest-raising process is completed, SEDA starts preparing for the event, covering all details from choosing and designing the place, logistics and advertising.
The most striking aspect of this delegation was the age. All were young Saudis, with a single female, sharing passion and great knowledge of ICT and communication skills.

Arab News interviewed some of the participating companies:

Muhammad Akhlaq Ahmed is a project manager at SmartMethods. The company has a very simple effective product — a small box that teaches the basics of electronic engineering. “We aim at developing talents among students and pupils in school and universities,” said Ahmed. “Our product Mubtakar teaches the basics of electronic engineering.”
The company’s aim, besides providing an easy learning tool, is to “service every talent to develop their thoughts and implement it into a process. One of your talents has won an Intel price last year in the United States.”
SmartMethods sees no competition so far in the market, “We evolve through our products. Our owner is a Saudi, a graduate from Umm Al-Qura University, who preferred to start up his own company rather than working as an employee.” Indeed, a showcase success story.

A startup company, whose name means innovation, which has the only Saudi female in the delegation. The company creates applications for websites with clients in the private and public sectors. “Our company is three years' old, and the challenge we are facing is big. But our work is great fun because it demands creativity and enthusiasm. The environment we work in is full of energy, progressive, and we share similar mindsets that bring out great result,” said Layla Islami, marketing manager at Ibtikar. The average age is between 24 and 36. “I preferred to work for a smaller company after my graduation, face the challenge in order to be part of the development process we are experiencing in Saudi Arabia,” added Layla Islami.
Ibtikar has an office in Riyadh and plans to open another in Dubai soon.

A startup company that can be seen as a consultancy company for marketing behavior on the Internet. The company started as a web development company using user experience. “We look at our customer’s customers to help support our customer. From that we figure out the solutions. In one to one consultancy it is easy to discover the problem, but that is not possible on the Internet,” said Rakan Taskhandi, project manager. To this end, the company bases solutions on the market behavior of the target – services that help me service my customers in the best way possible.
BrightWare is a company that implements e-payment. It specializes in software development and integration with e-channels. “Our target is the point of sale for e-commerce such as Sadad, Visa. Our customers are SMEs who want to sell online. Take a woman who is selling her cupcakes online, we take her visual shop after she completes her design and organize the payment for her products,” explained Marwan Al-Malarainya, project manager at BrightWare. So far, the company has customers within Saudi Arabia, from both the private and public sectors. “Our focus is to strengthen our abilities in our domain online facilities. We are growing in sharp curves. Therefore, we focus our efforts to help targeted customers.” With 30 employees and 100 customers, there is strong potential for growth.

This company is among the biggest in size attending. The drive of this company is innovation. The ideas for products are collected from among the 1,700 employees in all departments and on all levels, all treated equally. The end-result is a product for which the company holds the ownership and is ready for sale on the market. “We have two units for innovation. The first is that we make sure that we have a suitable environment to develop ideas, that is, our employees feel relaxed and comfortable working in the company. The second unit is the next steps and process after collecting the ideas,” the company stated.
The company has the idea bank that serves as a depository of ideas. The processing starts from evaluation to processing. “Some ideas can’t be processed immediately because there is no suitable technology or the time is not right.” Each idea is a new case and needs to be dealt with individually.
The company covers four different areas of operations: electronic services, support services, solution services and consultancy. “Our customers are our stakeholders and partners as through innovation we are offering unique products,” explained marketing manager Abdullah Al-Jameeli. “Our life style is innovation.”
The company started in 1986 as a research center and developed in 2002 into a service center for electronic information. By 2007 it became what it is today. Elm targets university students by supporting their ideas, creating awareness, teaching them new technologies,” through cooperation programs the company has with some Saudi universities.