The blog for Digital Revolutionaries in Egypt and around the World

Posts tagged ‘innovation’

Starting today … Always Startup!

This is the story of our new brand, InsideOut Today!

It has been a very interesting journey since our company was born in 2009, launched by Andrea Volpini who initiated the setup for the company beginning of the year then myself, Fady Ramzy, joined as the country manager in June to start the journey of Interact Egypt bringing online innovations from the European market to Egypt and the Middle East. Interact Egypt, started as the regional office for Interact SpA to strengthen the footprint in Middle East and North Africa, especially in the Telecommunications market. We started building the team and we were (and we still are) very focused to get the best calibers in town in terms of technical skills as well as personal entrepreneurship & enthusiastic spirit! The very first team members were Remon Magdy, the brilliant Service Delivery Manager, Ahmed Atef as support engineer & Jasmine Alladin our energetic online marketer.

Andrea's birthday in Cairo 2009

Celebrating Andrea’s birthday in Cairo 2009, with an exciting gift from the team: A Shisha 🙂

And we moved forward …..

Now we were closer and more local to our Egyptian as well as regional customers in Egypt, Tunis, Algeria and others, even including Pakistan. We started our journey by having all the R&D operations done in Cairo as well as the regional support operations. Lastly was the business development to grow our own regional footprint and it was interesting to expand our customer base to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Ghana and others in the MENA region. We were also proud to have a network of worldclass technology partners, like RealNetworks where we launched their Helix 13 platform in 2009 in Cairo in an interesting event inviting partners, customers and telco/media key players. Since then, we have been their regional partner for next generation streaming technologies. We were always committed share our experience to the local community through lots of public events we did as online marketing consultants, also with giant partners like Al-Ahram (in media & publishing sector, check the photo set) and Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (in Government sector, check the photo set), Google (in ICT sector, check the photo sets & session video) and IOETI (In travel & tourism sector, check the photo set) and also Markedu and Afritech (in the sector of online marketing, check the BBC interview and photo-sets: Markedu & Afritech). Based also on our commitment to local startup eco-system, we believe that we did the very first web-seminar about E-marketing for Entrepreneurs in Arabic! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMG9hR_hG20

The Egyptian Revolution

A major milestone for Interact Egypt, as well as the whole Egypt, was the Jan 25th revolution in 2011 where young Egyptian generation wanted to create a new Egypt that’s more dynamic and enthusitic going away from 30 years old stagnant political regiem & scene. This revolution was ignited over social media, and we had to summarize the whole story for those days before, during and after the revolution in a summary slide-deck that went viral and a public photo set. Egypt, written using logos

Andrea makes another entrepreneurial move!

Few months later, as a serial entrepreneur, Andrea decided to make a major entrepreneurial move by moving out of Interact SpA and creating his own startup with David Riccitelli Insideout10 SRL to bring a step forward their own restless dedication towards online innovations, and with special focus on another major passion the semantic web – where the web is about things not strings! It is the next generation web where computers understand the needs of human beings and makes the online journey looking for content and services easier and richer discovering more facts and exposing more values. At this moment, the very first version of our first semantic web product, Wordlift, took place. Wordlift started basically as WordPress Plugin that provides an easy-to-use method to enrich user-created text (a blog post, article or web page) with HTML Microdata, and evolved across different versions to be the tool to help bloggers, publishers & content creators to organize their posts and pages using “concepts” like we do in the real world. Accordingly, Interact Egypt was reborn again, instead of being the regional office for Interact SpA, it was the sister company for the new startup, Insideout10 S.R.L having an amazing team back in Rome including Maurizio Sarlo, Francesco Scavelli and Kim Renberg as first believers of this new path. This move was a major change to our team, where for the first time we had to become a startup ourselves since we were not relying anymore about the Italian mother company. We grew our own footprint unleashing the potential in Africa where we started building online music and online advertising platforms. Moving the the Gulf (GCC) region, where internet speeds were even booming, our streaming platform was the exact solution for Telco operators who wanted to provide streaming services to their customers, starting by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Meeting @RealNetworks office in London

Tough times, that generated more success

Moving forward to the next years after the revolution, namely 2012 & 2013, it was challenging & tough time for us due to the overall situation in Egypt. The elections for a new president, was a unique experience that many Egyptians had not witnessed for the previous 30 years, or (if age is less than 30) then it was a first-time experience. We had our contribution here too: Our social media monitoring report about presidential candidates went viral & trending over slideshare and also received the attention of international media like BBC, CNN and Wamda https://twitter.com/slideshare/status/214366046247845890 https://twitter.com/samuelcnn/status/214326101504311296 Back to our core business, Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMS) and media delivery, the year 2012 was major year for technology advancements on both fronts. In digital media, the new MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) technology started to evolve, we witness that clearly during our visit to IBC in Amsterdam, where we celebrated the launch of our second major product (after wordlift) which is then code named HelixCloud. HelixCloud is basically a middleware that provides a management framework and an intuitive Web UI on top of Helix Universal Server to help ISPs, Telco Operators or large enterprises to take control of their streaming platform. This product has changed the way our customers do streaming business. For example in A1, Austria’s leading telco operator providing them with a scalable and robust future TV platform that boosted their revenues through ingesting advertising in video playlists as well as lowering operational costs. It was a busy year though in 2012, between launching new versions of the mobile portal for Tunisiana (our telco customer in Tunisia), Augmented Reality for Enel (energy customer in Italy), upgrading the streaming platform of FastTelco (Telco customer in Kuwait), boosting back travel industry in Egypt through events & trainings and also launching social media contest for Savoy Group (travel customer in Egypt, a leading hotel complex in Sharm el Sheikh). Good news also was that, again our products like wordlift were getting media attention. This is also beside lots of work also on the Italian side, summarized in the next leaderboard video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOyW8LrK_Dc

The Group

Moving forward in 2013, the new spin-off called Redlink became finally a reality, providing semantic technologies to news & media, and changing the way computers work for people! This was the year of linked open data for us, where we started heavily focusing on these technologies and providing it to our customers like the linked open data for Enel project, and other projects across Europe as well. The InsideOut Group now started to taking shape between the three companies, with a startup spirit! Having said so, back to Cairo, the major trend was the uprising tech startup eco-system that was really booming, with lots momentum going on, and we were actively there on several fronts like providing guidance to Entrepreneurs, speaking at and supporting events like Riseup Summit , launching Egypt’s first Augmented Reality meetup, and lots more. Although political scene was quite tough in Egypt those days, we managed to deliver our best quality of services and also expanded our services and footprint to South Africa, crafting a solution for democratizing the radio programing there! Rise Up Egypt Summit Another major milestone for 2013, towards end of year, was the start of MICO (Media in Context) project, a European Union part-funded research project to provide cross-media analysis solutions for online multimedia producers. The 3 companies of the group are working harmonically on that project while our role, here in Cairo, is providing interesting use cases for this research project.

InsideOut Today!

Finally today, in July 2014, we are proud to make this long awaited announcement of our rebranding where our new brand is InsideOut Today. It is a new concept more than a brand, it is dynamic, open and community driven! Even our new logo is an open source algorithm that you can play with it yourself! Our team is growing, not only more geeks, but in several fronts also boosting every day our energy and focus. We work hard and play also hard 🙂 !

Iftar party 2014

InsideOut Today team at the Iftar party, Ramadan (July) 2014.

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.

Interact playing Augmented Reality!

Abbreviated as AR, Augmented Reality is a type of virtual reality that aims to duplicate the world’s environment in a computer. An augmented reality system generates a composite view for the user that is the combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information. The virtual scene generated by the computer is designed to enhance the user’s sensory perception of the virtual world they are seeing or interacting with.

Through collaboration between Enel and Interact Egypt (and its holding company IO10), today we are proud to announce our launch to an AR Content Supplier (Back-end channel) to Enel.

Interact, the certified partner of Layar, has developed two versions of the application, that work on the two famous platforms Layar and Junaio.

The application simply creates virtual point if there is a sales outlet within 1 mile of the point’s radius. This virtual point is clickable and enables calling, e-mailing or monitoring the route to the closest sales store.

Enel is Italy’s largest, and Europe’s second largest energy company with an extensive  outreach in  23 countries supplying a population of over 60 million users with electricity and/or gas.

Check out previous apps developed by Interact to Enel.

How we plan to make the Web smarter…

The Web is a blend of technical resources, functionalities and usage patterns: all of these dimensions make it the medium we all love. This article is about Interact Egypt (and its holding company IO10), WordPress and the Semantic Web.

And before I start describing our latest effort on how to make the Web smarter…

I have to admit it was my idea to add the naive slogan “we love the Internet” in our new meetup group name – and yes I really believe Egypt does have a crucial role in leading the next wave of innovations after #jan25 and the Arab Spring and…this is also the  reason I’m so proud of investing in Egypt these days.

Now getting back to our scope I’d like to start with one question for all of you:

Why is Google buying from IBM U.S. Patent 7,865,592 and what really is a semantic network?

The news that just  came out these days informs us that Big G purchased a patent from IBM to shape the next generations of social networks and to lead users finding “experts” or like-minded enthusiasts on specific topics using semantic technologies. Now a semantic networks is a form of knowledge representation. And this acquisition proves that we’re ready (or nearly ready) to find and access Web sites and Web resources not by keywords, as Google and the other search engines have being doing in the last 20 years, but by descriptions of their contents and capabilities. “The semantic web is an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation” (Tim Berners-Lee).

Why we decided to contribute building the Semantic Web (or Web of Data) with a WordPress Plugin?

WordPress today is the largest blogging platform on the Planet, it runs 12% of the top 1 million largest websites and powers 20% of the new website launched in the States and this is why we had no choice when few months ago we decided our mission was to bring Semantic Web technologies mainstream. IO10 (Interact Egypt’s mother company) joined the pioneering team of IKS (a european founded research project), started contributing to the open-source project called Apache Stanbol (a stack of reusable software modules for semantic web content management) and developed WordLift. The idea behind it is quite simple:

WordLift reads the text of your post and pages, understands it,  adds context and meaningful data using schema.org vocabulary  (this is a set of tags all major search engines will recognize) and help you boost SEO on your website.

Simple and effective we went live this past August and since then we had over 693 downloads; we won the Semantic UX Contest and secured the founding to move the project further (a website of WordLift was born in the meanwhile).

What’s next? Meet the innovators!

Unleashing the power of semantic technologies with a bottom-up approach (starting from blogs and websites) means creating a long tail of valuable semantic networks, providing everyone with open-source tools to make web content more useful, and sharing interests and knowledge in a democratic way. A medium that is complete, democratic and democratized is a medium that lets everyone organize data as it is received. With the continuos growth of spontaneous information sharing platforms (and social networks) everyone shall be able to coordinate his/her views with various communities and to organize content efficiently. The trend toward opening up data and semantic technologies is changing the web’s core structure and the means of accessing it.

We want to embrace these changes and we want to do it with Egypt’s brightest digital revolutionaries and this is why you’re all welcome to join our first meetup this coming monday!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: