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!