The blog for Digital Revolutionaries in Egypt and around the World

Posts tagged ‘cyberzizo’

The new uprising Silicon Valley!

Slideshare2Once again, politics and technology happening come across on our Interact Egypt timeline. The date is Jan 28th 2014, which is a very important  and stressful date  in Egypt for two reason: The trail of former president Mohamed Morsi facing jailbreak charges and the second reason was the 3rd anniversary of revolution, namely that date on 2011 was called the “Friday of rage”.

Lets talk technology!

But, the same date was stressful on another more interesting track than politics, technology! It was the announcement date for Google Cloud Developer Challenge 2013, an annual software applications contest based on Google app engine. The contest, that started on September 4th had many applications submitted from different parts around the world including India, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, South East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and finally. United States, Europe and the Rest of the World. The contest had 5 milestone dates starting from competition start till winners announcement and was really a very useful experience for everyone who joined regardless where he/she reached. Behind the scenes, everybody also witnessed and was amazed by the energy of the enthusiastic young lady orchestrating the whole contest, Elizabeth Clark.

The tech startup scene?!

Middle East participation was, as usual, quit interesting to me. In the last 4 or 5 years, the tech startup ecosystem started to flourish and get unleashed in the Middle East in general, and Egypt in specific. For this reason also in the recent years Egypt saw lots of events, contests, hackathons for tech startups, from international entities including Google’s own “start with Google” (where our country manager Fady Ramzy presented an interesting session about E-Marketing Strategies for entrepreneurs) and the more interesting events like Startupweekend, that was courageous enough to move away from Cairo to other places all over Egypt including upper Egypt cities witnessing such events for their first time like Assuit and Aswan! This also ignited local scene here in Cairo to start running our own “local” entrepreneurship events like RiseUp summit last November.

Our geek is here!

Back to our  #gcdc story, which is even more interesting, since Interact Egypt’s own geek Mohamed Abdel elRahman was one of the finalists with his cool midoapplication Courseit, which enables you to learn anything you want, you can find numerous of useful written courses and streaming videos that can optimize your knowledge and skills in many different life categories.  Mohamed is a real example of Egypt’s new generation technology geeks, his personal hobbies is to play around with new Content Management Systems and programming languages, reading techies blogs, trying out new frameworks. On that day he was really nervous and curious to see his app as the winner for the Middle East region, and we all supported him and had the same passion 🙂 But then, the announcement was on that night, due to difference in timezones, which added more stress here!

Gplusstress

Finally the announcement came out late night from the Middle East were Geo Sketch from Saudi Arabia and Travellog from UAE, but our Mohamed was even filled with further energy to proceed on the geeks track and jump into future contests again!

Interact would like to congratulate all the #GDCD winners worldwide and especially the uprising Middle East! 

Proudly Crafted in Egypt

A short story of mobile application development, the dramatic crackdown of a counter revolution and a long-lasting friendship.

First post of the new year and a great moment to fly back in time and go through a personal story I felt the need to share since this summer. A story about my life as web entrepreneur and start-upper in Egypt during one of Egypt’s most dramatic period of its millennial history.

cyberandy-on-ms794As I write I’m on flight MS794 heading back to Cairo from Rome – Italy, my home town.

Today, Tuesday January the 14th, millions of Egyptians are voting their new constitution after kick-starting a revolution that changed the Arab World and was the beginning of a series of tragic events that deeply effected the Egyptian people as well as my confidence in running a successful business in the Middle East.

It is now almost 20 years I make a living developing web applications, I’m one of these guys that still remember Mosaic and gets excited when people and machines exchange information at the speed of light. I’ve been lately reading Evgeny Morozov (@evgenymorozov) so don’t worry I know “The Internet” – meaning this utopian dream of a connected and more civilised society – doesn’t really exists and most of the time nowadays this overall idea of a better World is misused for protecting unscrupulous online money making machines like Google, Amazon and the others.

Anyway, back to our story. Regardless of the time I spent debugging HTML, CSS, JavaScript and trying to push forward all sort of online business (from national governments to street performers, from multinational corporations to tattoo artists, gangsters and movie stars) I still take quite a lot of pride in doing my job and a great pleasure in helping people communicate online.

It was July 2013 when with our partner from UK (Axxe Solutions) and a brilliant advertising agency in Johannesburg we started to help South Africa’s biggest Radio Channel (5FM) launching an interactive radio show called “Beats by Demand”.

The user dynamics was quite simple and the goal even simpler: democratising” the radio program by letting listeners fire votes using a social-driven HTML5 mobile app (a 2nd screen app for Radio programs).

After gathering the requirements and writing the user-stories we began sketching concept and user experience for our first iteration.

Sketch Beats by Demand

Time was running fast, temperatures in Italy as well as in Egypt were going up and…a  major crisis for Egypt was on its way – ready to severely hit the streets of Cairo in just few weeks. Protests immediately following the removal of the President Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian Armed Forces erupted near the Rabia Al-Adawiya Mosque and people amassed there to condemn the military and to bring President Morsi back to power. For the first  time since my first visit to Egypt I felt something was wrong, deeply wrong even though I knew my perception of the events was heavily distorted by the media I had a weird feeling and as usual…

tweetsI was relying on the great hope, enthusiasm and courage of people like my partner Fady Ramzy (@cyberzizo) who is literally Reloading Egypt on daily basis by devoting himself to the Egyptian Entrepreneurial Revolution described in Christopher Schroeder’s book “Startup Rising”.

As usual, for our activities developed in Cairo like the 5FM App, my long time friend and colleague Remon Magdy was leading the project delivery. I began working with Remon in 2006 while launching the first mobile portal for Algeria’s largest mobile operator Djezzy. Since then we’ve been successfully rolling out services used every day by millions of users from Egypt to Tunisia, from Pakistan to Algeria, from Italy to South Africa.

Remon’s competences, clever attitude and experience represent at best Egypt’s “amazing talent pool of young people ready to create and innovate” as Marc Andreessen wrote on his introduction for the Christopher Schroeder’s book.

August 2013. It was time to begin developing the story board for our application and most importantly we had to prototype, prototype and prototypeyou don’t really know if an idea will work or not until you try to make something real. Building a version to evaluate the interaction is a must for helping you and your client find out what’s missing before moving your code to production. As usual we split our team into smaller groups (involving the agency as well as the client) and began executing our plan.

As we moved along our project Remon kept coordinating our team sometime from his house in Mohandessin (a neighbourhood close to downtown Cairo – in these days of August one of the epicentre of the clashes) and sometimes from our office in Nasr City (nearby the Airport and not too far from the other epicentre of the protests the Rabia Al-Adawiya Mosque) following the advice from the local news and from his friends on the streets.

Skype-conversationWhile Morsi’s backers set dozens of police stations ablaze across Egypt and put on fire 36 Christian churches General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi unleashed a bloody crackdown of unprecedented violence.

All I could do, as the confrontation continued during 14-18 of August, was to keep a close contact with the team in Cairo and working with Remon over Skype as he was literally trapped in his apartment and couldn’t  go out (see Skype conversation).

People from the office had continuous power outages and connection problems but we decided to keep working as normal as possible and not to disclose too many details with the South African partners to avoid any unneeded spread of panic. When everything outside gets messy it comes natural to protect ourselves and keep leaving our normal life as if nothing had happened.

Hundreds of people died in the clashes between security forces and supporters of President Morsi after his removal. These have been by far the darkest days of my entire experience in Egypt and I do need to thank Fady, Remon, Ahmed, Mohammed, Mina S., Mina M., Nevine and all the other Egyptian friends for giving me unprecedented hope and courage in continuing my journey here in Cairo.

Beats by Demand

After fine tuning our Drupal back-end, training DJ Fresh and revising the interaction with the social logins we finally went live as planned in September with our first release of Beats by Demand. The application had a great impact and few weeks after the launch Heineken decided to sponsor it.

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing team as the one we have in Cairo and I really hope for 2014 we will continue delivering great experiences crafted with pride in Egypt!

If you’re planning to build your new digital user experience…do it in Egypt and drop us an email.

Video

Our MD Fady Ramzy on IT Show talking about Web 3.0 & HTML5 [arabic]

Social Media, the tool to solving Tourism Crisis in Egypt

Last week, in a cozy meeting room in an awesome small villa, in Nasr City, the luxurious Hotels’ Group Team got our E-marketing Workshop.

Over the past year, thanks to the 25 Jan. revolution, the importance of Social Media Networks and their role in Marketing has been highly recognized. So, the professional Egyptian corporates and their elegant clientele began to accept the idea of “Professional Marketing Campaigns” over social media networks.

On the other hand, after the revolution, Tourism in Egypt has been harshly affected, especially due to the spread in the perception of danger and insecurity that propagated in foreign News Coverage. Therefore, a twist in that impression wanted to be targeted. Social Media is considered to be the most suitable Marketing tool, applicable in such case; not only for its global reach, but also for the true engagement with customers.

Savoy management quickly recognized the key to New-Generation Marketing and the necessity for utilization of Social Media to serve Savoy’s Marketing objectives and contacted Interact for a professional E-marketing Training Workshop to be given to its marketing Team to maintain its international standard.

Savoy Hotels Group, the holding company of Royal Savoy, Savoy Sharm El-Sheikh, Savoy Club, Sierra and Soho Square, the 2011 World’s Leading Dive Resort according to World Travel Awards and the Middle East’s Top Relaxation/Spa Resort according to tripadvisor.

The Workshop started with a day of E-marketing concepts and strategies. Then, a day focusing on Savoy’s online identity in terms of the website and social networks to analyze the current situation and set the required goals. This day was also devoted to practical training on each social network on its own; especially facebook & twitter.

Lastly, a session about E-mail marketing, followed by case studies for hotels that utilized E-marketing in their business and that boomed their sales. Finally, we had a contest and the winner, Nevine Adel (@Floofella) was handed an Interact gift and all participants were handed their training certificates.

This workshop got a very positive feedback specially over the #SharmOnline Hashtag that the team created and managed to interact on it themselves. That’s really FUN!!!

Entrepreneurship is not difficult as long as you are able to meet your challenges!

In a casual setting at Innoventures’ Office, we had our first and long awaited meetup for Egypt Startups, technology entrepreneurs (anybody with vision or product for web or mobile), online experts, gurus as well as entrepreneurship supporters like mentors & consultants to discuss the current entrepreneurial challenges in Egypt that slows down entrepreneurial inventions.

Therefore, to meet your challenges event started with successful entrepreneurial cases through inspirational mini-speeches by 3 entrepreneurs who managed their way through those challenges. Those mentors were Abdellatif Olama, CEO of Dear’n’Deal, Abdelrahman Wahba, CEO of Iqraaly and Hady Ahmed, CEO of Tabshoura that are three successful businesses in the Egyptian market that started with an entrepreneurial initiativve.Then, we had a group game for identifying the challenges, announced a mini-contest of “Meetup tweetmaster” and finally had Q&A session with open discussion.

Every small Business meets some obstacles at their Baby-phase, where you are now. That’s not because you lack experience but may be because you miss the know-how. Sometimes you waste your time trying start the whole business from scratch while you can save your time, energy, resources and creativity to adding10% to a 90% that already exists out there. This 90/10 rule was explained by Olama who said that the asset is where you end not where you start. So, one can borrow 90% from an already-existing idea and add to it his/her 10% that take already to a completely different level.

Peer and family pressures telling you, “you are young, you can’t do it”, shan’t be listened to. For, Hady all surrounders weren’t supportive but weren’t believing his young age, 21 years, can do him any help. However, he didn’t give attention to that and established his successful “Tabshoura”, middle-man market linking designers to designers’ hiring agencies.

The main 5 challenges discussed were the funding, business planning, marketing activities, sales management, and lack of resources. To reach a fair focus for the meetup, a game was run to indicate the main common challenge that met the majority of Startups. The game was as follows; 5 boards were hung on the wall with a challenge written on each, sticky notes were distributed on participants to stick their problem to the problem-related challenge.  The conclusion was that funding and business planning contributed to the majority of challenges.

To guarantee broader reach of coach-needy entrepreneurs, the meetup was also live streamed and live tweeted by Interact, attendees and online followers, who asked questions and interact shared their questions within the meetup and tweeted them back the answers. By the end of the meetup, we announced 3 winners for our mini-contest “Meetup Tweetmaster”, who won an exclusive training session for entrepreneurial skills. To gain more benefit and broader vision over entrepreneurs in Egypt, you can see the event’s pictures and watch interviews with the speakers.

Turn-key web video production services!

Interact Egypt, as a regional leader in online media and e-marketing, recently launched its latest services for end-to-end video productions targeted for the web and specifically YouTube. This service includes Pre-production, production and post-production services and also video management and promotion over YouTube.

This new service is now launched by Interact Egypt jointly with Basim Animation Studios to open new areas of E-marketing. Basim Animation Studios is a production house that provides different Media production services with special focus on Arabic content.

Web video production extends Interact’s offerings in E-Marketing through developing characters and animating them in video productions that can be a powerful tool for marketing, branding, advertising as well as education. Check behind the scenes of an actual video production.

Online video made simple!

Interact Egypt is happy to announce that it’s now the solution partner for Brightcove’s video platform helping clients to build next generation online video experiences. Using Brightcove’s leading platform, Interact Egypt helps leading interactive marketing, design and development firms to use the extensible features of the Professional or Enterprise editions of Brightcove to build custom client video solutions.

Brightcove is one of the most popular professional video delivery platforms, founded in the United States of America in 2004. It is the first true Internet TV for Business, offering integrated streaming solutions for independent content providers, institutions and companies.

Brightcove allows to easily integrating with pre-existing web and mobile platforms and has several features; Uploading & Encoding, Content Management, Players and styling, Delivery, Mobile devices, HTML5 Video, Live streaming, Distribution and syndication, Youtube sync, Social media, Advertising and monetization, Analytics, Extensions and integrations… Know more

Interact offers a rich, updated, on-line catalogue on http://www.streamcast.it , the site is dedicated for reselling digital media hardware and software.

 

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