At a young age, she has bagged laurels and already inspired budding entrepreneurs around the world through her feature in ‘Dear Female Founder’. Bryony Cooper is a serial entrepreneur who has founded 3 companies and is now leading the charge as Head of IoT Program at Brinc.io, the world’s first end-to-end integrated platform designed for IoT entrepreneurs. She presently sits in the investment committee at Brinc and will soon be moving to the European leg of the branch with an exciting new opportunity.
Having a way with words, Bryony is deeply involved and extremely talented in mentoring early-stage startups. With the start-up culture deeply engraved in her experience, she has been a quality contributor to several panel discussions and committees like Web Summit, MWC (4YFN), UNIT, Meet ICT, German Trade & Invest
What inspired you to join Brinc.io?
I’m a former tech startup founder myself, and I wanted to continue working in the startup ecosystem in a role where I could share my learnings and experiences. Around 1.5 years ago, one of the Brinc founders, Bay McLaughlin, gave a talk at my workplace; he was so passionate and enthusiastic, that I had to check this company out!
It turns out that Brinc is an ideal platform for me to connect with inspiring entrepreneurs and support them through the early stages of their business, and it’s a perfect fit for my background and expertise.
I relish the idea of energizing the budding entrepreneurs and thoroughly enjoy the creative process of grooming their startup and eventually seeing them grow.
What does your current job role entail?
Since last year, I have been running the IoT Accelerator Program for Brinc MENA in Bahrain. We support global IoT entrepreneurs by accelerating their startup, right from the ‘concept’ to ‘sustainable customization’. It has been an amazing journey, highlighted by significant benchmarks; the next big milestone awaits.
I will soon be transferring to our European branch for an exciting opportunity to launch a new fund! I can’t disclose any more just yet, but I will be Chief Acceleration Officer and serving on the board.
You were featured in a critically acclaimed book ‘Dear Female Founder’. Tell us about it.
The book is a collection of letters to the next generation of female entrepreneurs – to inspire, encourage and highlight some of the challenges faced. I have always been passionate about gender diversity in the workplace, and seeing more women in leadership positions. I met the editor, Lu Li, at a tech conference, and was invited to contribute my story to the book. I felt very honoured to be able to share my startup story, and hope it resonates with other young women.
As an experienced startup mentor, how do you help the startups to connect with bigger organisations/investors?
The great thing about Bahrain being a small country is that it’s much easier to get to know the right people; we were quickly able to integrate into the startup community and establish ourselves here, forging relationships with corporates and investors alike. We have a dedicated partnership with Batelco, and we also invite mentors from large organisations to come in and coach our teams. We make introductions to our wide network where we see fit, and make sure our founders are armed with the tools they need to take those relationships forward, with clear objectives to work towards.
Besides the financial, legal, and networking aid, we help them reflect and learn on their progress. We add real value in our mentorship program through a bright and focused view.
What is the scope of IoT entrepreneurship in the Middle East?
At the moment, there is not a large amount of IoT entrepreneurs in Middle East (compared to software startups, for example). However, the first step to developing this market is to lay down the foundations, and create an ecosystem of support. Brinc is the first dedicated IoT accelerator in the region, coming from 5 years experience in Hong Kong and China, where we specialise in product development and manufacturing expertise.
Not only do we offer that bridge to China for manufacturing, but we also attract talented IoT entrepreneurs from around the globe to come to Bahrain and set up their business here. Now, IoT startups can access funding, coworking space, mentorship, a makerspace for prototyping and a full accelerator program at Brinc; we are focusing in particular on the GCC and MENA region.
Which industries in the Middle East will be impacted the most by “Internet of Things” (IoT)?
We are beginning to see the unleashed potential of Internet of Things through IoT products and applications in many sectors like health, education, manufacturing, retail and transport.
Going forward, I see a huge potential for IoT innovation in multiple industries in the Middle East. Some of our first portfolio teams have shown its impact on Agriculture and Contract-based sectors.
Sensors can transform Date Palm Agriculture and Contractor projects such as construction, oil and gas can be hugely optimized through IoT. The concept of Smart Cities will also majorly thrive on the Internet of Things. Another sector that could be greatly optimised is Transportation, for example, to save energy, reduce congestion and road accidents.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
My proudest achievements have given me the courage to continue and constantly expand my horizons.
Raising $90,000 seed investment on my first ever startup pitch, and going on to raise over $2 Million in our cloud startup T Dispatch was a testament, that hard work always pays back multiplied. Another achievement that enthralled me was winning clients on every continent. Also, I recorded 3 albums working as a professional singer before I broke into the tech business.
You have been advocating for gender diversity in tech and at board level. What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you?
#WomenInTech is important because it celebrates the contribution of knowledgeable figures in the industry and addresses the causes that affect women.
This movement highlights the need for female role models in leadership positions which encourages others more women to tech. Despite the progress we’ve made in the last century, there is still a long way to go before we see true equality on a global scale. It means more than equal pay and equal opportunities; it’s also about changing the attitudes and behaviours that women are subjected to on a daily basis – especially in ‘bro cultures’, which is sometimes found in tech startups.
Who are the inspirational women in business that you admire?
Many of the influential people in the industry I have met are women, making great strides in their field of work. Two of those women have left a lasting impression whom I wish to quote here.
Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits has built a fun way for kids to learn about electronics and create their own inventions.
Looking closer to home, I was recently lucky enough to have Amina AlHawaj on my ‘Women in Tech’ panel at Women Power Summit’; she’s doing some great work in the Med Tech space, and has won more awards for inventions and innovation than I can count!
Shahad Alzaki is the CEO and Creative Director of Mievento Hub, a creative agency based in Bahrain with special expertise in Marketing, Web Media, Public Relations, and Event Management. She is a professional architect who was drawn towards entrepreneurship and is recognized for her specialization in understanding the market.
Shahad has used her entrepreneurial, leadership, and people management skills to substantially contribute and add value to a market defined by the young audience. Her purpose and passion can be clearly seen in her teammates, who excel in their respective domains and most of whom are deservingly women.
She strongly associates with the societal concerns and is deeply involved in spreading awareness through online campaigning, one issue at a time. Through art and fashion, Shahad rejuvenates herself and explores the world in new ways.
What was your mission at the outset of Mievento Hub? Has any of these mission(s) changed?
The digital sphere is an indomitable ball of energy that is transforming the online experiences, which is why I was drawn towards this vibrant field. My mission since the inception of Mievento Hub was to establish the 1st Youth run creative agency that will allow young creative minds to bring fresh new ideas in this market and to our clients.
At the same time, we have always worked towards expanding the client’s mindset from offline marketing to an inclusive marketing plan which comprises online marketing as well. One of our missions is to reveal the power of digital marketing and its benefits like great customer satisfaction and enhanced Return on Investment from it as a business.
None of these missions has changed till now and we are working towards excellence while achieving them.
The team at Mievento hub is led by women. How do you think more involvement of women has better positioned your company?
It is great to see women as leaders and the worthwhile impact of this advancement in the society. My current team is 90% comprised of women and while throughout the years the exact figure may have changed, the majority was always women which is just by chance.
The women I have had the privilege to work with add tremendous value to our business, in terms of communication, creativity, and so much more. Their commitment to work is such that our clients have repeatedly appreciated the ease and smoothness of dealing with the team. They always felt we understand their needs quickly and work towards achieving them.
In general, I’m very proud to have a team full of women leaders and I’m very happy to see the growth of the company in their hands.
What is the main thing you keep in mind while devising services for the youth; youth being an important audience for Mievento?
Engaging audiences today can be challenging and hence, it is imperative to deploy activities that are stimulating, enjoyable, creative and extremely personalised to them. Hence, one of our methodologies in terms of business approach is that we are flexible with our services and concentrate on their relevance to the audience. With our vision and values at the guiding helm of every project, we keep upgrading and brainstorming to improve and remove things because we believe, the key to success in serving the Youth Market is by staying up-to-date with their needs, wants and how the market is at that moment.
One of the main attributes that help our team is the fact that it is comprised of young who contribute the most in understanding how to tailor our services to the youth market.
As per you, what is the key to successful entrepreneurship?
There are many aspects that I believe blend together to shape a successful entrepreneur. I am sharing below the most important ones, not in order though; these are:
choosing the right team of talents
having skillful mentors network around you
having planning skills and being able to visualize your goals & always reflecting on it
networking, networking & networking, as this is one of the most important aspects to succeed as an entrepreneur. You will always need to network – either to position your business or to gain new business leads.
The last thing, in my opinion, I would say is reading about anything that benefits one as an entrepreneur or enhances knowledge in their line of work.
Event planning & marketing are parts of a very competitive market. What do you think is the main trait a customer looks for?
Every customer deserves a premium value from the brands they trust. A proactive team will always seek new ideas to elevate the event or the marketing plan to harness their experience. The key component that matters is the ‘Return On Investment’ (ROI). Customers will always be eager to know what exactly they are getting in return for the investment they are paying and will mainly look for the quality of work being delivered. They will always cherish the way you make them feel.
What do you think are your societal responsibilities as the founder of a company?
It is one of our core commitments to do good for the society. We applaud the growing initiative of aligning the enterprise’s missions with social good programmes and have been positioning our services for relevant causes. As a responsible citizen and founder of a company, I undertake
Contribute to the youth development & growth. We do that by offering free educational and networking workshops & events on a quarterly basis.
support the young talents. We always provide our services at discounted rates to startups & support talents through a program we have called “MIEVENTO CONNECTORS” through which we connect talents with clients to work together.
Also, we adopt one cause every year and raise awareness about it by sponsoring online. In our maiden year, for example, we created awareness through a breast cancer campaign.
Is there anything you weren’t aware of but have learnt/realized during your entrepreneurial journey?
Succeeding at entrepreneurship comes with starting the day and ending it with a constant attitude to learn. One has to embrace an open mindset with a vision to learn something from anywhere & everywhere.
I come from an Engineering background as I am a professional architect. Being an entrepreneur taught me a lot of things about financial management, business planning, marketing strategies & how to especially manage a team of very different talents and personalities.
Besides that, every day I explore new thing about myself; it is definitely an experience that strengthens my personality. I am proud of considerably progressing in time management and communication skills.
Who is a famous women entrepreneur in the region that inspires you?
While there are many women on an international level that I look up to, when I look closer to home, I am specifically inspired by a leading woman in Bahrain – Sonya Janahi. She is the owner of Maya chocolate and the drive with which she took a family business forward in an extremely competitive market is purely remarkable.
“By 2022, half of the human workforce will be wiped out” “Robotics and machinery will take over” “Automation will take up your jobs”
These are some of the common phrases people say and circulated, usually on LinkedIn walls and in Op-Ed articles. What is the credibility of these statements, and to what extent will automation REALLY impact human labour?
The World Economic Forum published a report on 17 September 2018, titled The Future of Jobs 2018.
As per the report, by 2022 humans will perform 58% of the task hours while machines perform 42%.
So is it a scary warning of the upcoming doomsday for job-seekers?
Yes, Ai Will Destroy Jobs
It will. But the good news is, it will create more jobs than that.
As per the Gartner’s insightful predictions for the future, Ai will be the driving force behind the creation of a whopping 2.3M jobs while only eliminating 1.8M jobs.
That makes it a positive net job motivator!
Even the latest report on the future of jobs by WEF discloses the revelation by 59% of employers who believe that by 2022, they will heavily change the way they produce and distribute by changing the composition of their value chain.
Another insight from the same report reveals that businesses will grow by leaps and bounds within the four-year period of 2018 to 2022. The report accredits this development to the following four components:
High-speed mobile internet
Widespread adoption of big data
Hence, it becomes evident that Ai will transform the business and consumer realms. This will replace some jobs but will also lead to a demand for new skills and individuals flaunting these skills.
This is because Artificial Intelligence though being a smart technology still requires inputs and efforts of a human to make it a widespread reality. The abundant need of developers, product designers, Ai-strategists will only create a positive tremor in the job market. The inexpensive technology will be incorporated in products (courtesy Internet of Things) before they are created.
One could either work on themselves to uphold the title of a ‘versatilist’. Or, they could specialise and upgrade their skills. The sooner an individual realises the scope and purview of Ai-compatible skills, the better it is.
Ai-Compatible Smart Skills
It makes complete sense for an individual to chalk their future by leaning towards a career influenced by emerging technologies.
AI and data science courses are preliminary before taking a dive in the field. They are a great method to be aware of the magnificent scope of the industry.
With concerted efforts from multi-national companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and organizations like NIPS, Re-Work, O’Reilly, Gartner, one can keep in touch with the latest developments through seminars and conferences which are mostly live-streamed.
Keeping up with the trends is otherwise also feasible through very accessible means of internet. But beware, do not get carried away by diluted statements like the ones you read at the start of this article.
The first movers to an Ai-based industry are Financial Services and Investors, Automotive, Aerospace and Supply Chain and Transport, and Oil and Gas. Other sectors are Aviation, Travel & Tourism, Chemistry, Advanced Materials & Biotechnology, Consumer market, Energy Utilities & Technologies, Global Health & Healthcare, Information & Communication Technologies, Infrastructure, Mining & Metals, and Professional Services. Such knowledge of Ai-oriented jobs in the market will make it helpful for an aspirant to make a career choice.
If you truly see yourself rooting for a career with passion and everyday developments, it is not difficult to find companies around who are also looking for avid learners like you. Unleash the positive change through Ai. Discerning true AI companies and going on-board with them is all it takes to create a fulfilling career marked by new learning every day.
AI can be intimidating. But it is only will you take a plunge and invest your mind in it. Training with Ai requires serious effort but then, which profession doesn’t?
VR has truly disrupted the conventional therapeutic techniques and protocols coming to forth as an assistive technology that helps children with disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), on a personal level and enables to remove some of the physical limitations that get in the way of their learning and development. Floreo, a VR company, specialized in ASD, is now penetrating its way in the Middle East to bring groundbreaking innovation in the Special Needs Education sector by offering VR learning tools designed to help improve social cognitive skills in autistic children.
Virtual reality provides conducive environments for children with special needs to interact with their surroundings in a different way, practice essential physical skills and support their rehabilitative goals. In the Middle East, immersive technologies innovation company VRXOne has been working to bring this technology to institutes and medical facilities for children with special needs, having recently conducted VR camp for the disabled during Bahrain Summer Festival 2018. Their One Million VR Expeditions program also puts a particular emphasis on the Special Needs Education.
Co-founder & CEO of VRXone and the ARVR & Ai Strategist MENA, Dr. Sana Farid belives that VR has transformed the domain of Special Needs Education forever, “There is a lot to be said about the way Virtual Reality has revolutionized the Special Needs Education by providing a customized approach and a unique set of learning and growth opportunities for students with disabilities, which was not possible before.”
Joining hands with Floreo – a VR startup working to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), VRXOne is working to extend the potential of Virtual Reality as a supplementary method to help develop social and communication skills for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD is a developmental disability that typically restricts communication and interaction with others including difficulty in understanding complex facial expressions and to even recognize faces, causing significant social problems.
Unfortunately, little is known about diagnosis and treatment of ASD, and even the access to available therapy is limited for the majority. Although evidence states that early intervention treatment services can help with social skills development for children. To this end, Floreo is leveraging the potential of VR technology in facilitating multimodal adaptive social interaction integrating repeatable and supervised learning environments, automated performance data collection , and accessible, affordable therapeutic treatment. Floreo uses customized VR lessons to build real world skills that incorporate using/shifting eye gaze, cognitive development with the help of imitation and use of gestures, interaction in school environments, as well as various safety situations. Vijay Ravindran, Co-Founder & CEO of Floreo, talks about the pros of using VR for ASD saying:
“Virtual really allows the creation of immersive teaching environment that occur in 3D space, allow for repeatable practice, and can be designed to meet the learner where they are in complexity. We’re excited to partner with Dr. Farid and VRXOne to bring Floreo’s ground-breaking science-backed curriculum to the Middle East.”
The on-going research has already proved the effectiveness and usefulness of VR-based design system and places high hopes in the power of this technology to help bridge the gap between society and people affected with ASD by helping to considerably improve their social interaction.
Floreo is leveraging the power of Virtual Reality to develop a supplementary method of teaching social and communication skills for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Our VR learning tool is fun and engaging for the learner, while allowing a supervising adult to monitor and track the learner’s progress. Floreo is currently being used by schools, therapy practices, and parents. We are also running several research studies, including a study with the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and National Institutes of Health.
VRXOne is a comprehensive virtual reality program for education and training.
With the use of creative and immersive technologies as well as hands-on practical tools, VRXOne offers cutting-edge customizable solutions applicable for any education or training environment in an efficient and risk-free manner while capacitating maximum optimization of productivity.
VRXOne aims at transforming the face of learning and development technologies in the Middle East as well as internationally by integrating a global operating framework interweaved with corporate and economic vision.
Goldman Sachs, a US-based multinational investment bank and financial services company predicts an investment of $700 million in the AR/VR applications in education by 2025. Will Mixed Reality in education also be as successful and promising contributor like other wearables applications in the market?
More than three years ago, the Florida-based company Magic Leap had released the first teaser video of its Augmented Reality glasses. Firm assertions were made by the company that the soon-to-be-unveiled device would be a disruptor and a game-changer in the wearables market.
Cut to August 2018, the much-awaited, much-anticipated, touted as groundbreaking Augmented Reality headset, Magic Leap One Creator Edition has been unveiled by the company. The headsets are available to developers in cities across the contiguous US.
The Creator Edition is intended for programmers so they can build applications and experiences on the platform.
Magic Leap claims that its device will present an unparalleled experience of ‘spatial computing’.
This claim is truly substantiated by the built of the wearable device. With elements like eye and hand-tracking technology that coordinate movements between the headset and a person’s body, Magic Leap devices have an aptitude of being more than just digital overlays. Its cameras, sensors, speakers, optical relay and a super-powered processor in the Lightpack give input to the visual system. It is linked through a wire to a small computer which can be clipped to a pocket.
With eight supported gestures, the device will maneuver the movement of students within the environment. It will also come with sensors to detect their movements. In a classroom, such kind of interaction allows digital elements to be a part of the real world. When such deeper interactions can be built in an environment, students experience a profound simulating experience where their real world is combined with real-like graphics. This brings them the best of both worlds. The simulations multiply their access to the world while they are still learning in their classroom environment.
Interestingly, the device can also react to the gaze, gestures, gait, voice and even the heartbeats of its user. This is made possible by tracking their geo-location in the world. A teacher can create penetrating learning experiences and show different concepts through an intelligent symbiosis of sensors, machine learning and visuals.
The Light Field technology used, enables the user to focus on graphic objects in the same way as a human eye would focus on real objects. Through this method, Magic Leap excels at constructing an altered or augmented world around a user.
In a demo video released by the company, a user was seen holding an elephant at the palm of his hand. While the elephant was a reel object, the user interacted with it much like it was actually present.
This is essentially where the device stands out. The reel objects are spatially aware of their environment.
So when this elephant would walk towards the edge of the table, it would actually fall down, just like a real one would. Through amazing spatial audio, the distance and intensity are devised with amazing accuracy and control.
Will Magic Leap in education be the groundbreaker it claims to be? Let’s wait till the user reviews start pouring.