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It is important to have a clear vision and an understanding of the road map ahead.

- Soham Shah, CEO, Selfdrive.ae

Could you tell us a bit about Selfdrive.ae?

Selfdrive.ae, launched in 2017, is a dealer authorised car subscription platform that allows customers to rent cars on demand, starting from one day to 36 months with spot confirmations. We have served over 20,000 customers from over 95 different nationalities, with 65 different car models from 15 brands.

What essentially encouraged you to start this company?

When we started, the objective was to launch a smart mobility company. After a careful market research in the UAE, we noticed that there were several untapped territories between daily and weekly rental models that were being offered by traditional rent-a-car companies, while many others offered leasing services only to corporates. This served as a platform for us to explore a new segment, as customers were also looking for options from one to 12 months on demand. That is why we launched the subscription service, which ultimately went on to become a massive success; and we established Selfdrive.ae as a tech mobility platform.

How has the entrepreneurial journey been so far?

Like all businesses, the journey has been a rollercoaster ride. We have witnessed several changes happening in the automotive line — new launches, move to electric cars, changes in regulations and policies, and more. But overall, it has been a super exciting journey.

How does Selfdrive.ae maintain an edge in the UAE’s crowded car rental space?

Staying ahead and getting the edge over the market have been two critical segments for Selfdrive.ae. We heavily rely on our in-house built technology, which gives us the bandwidth to quickly expand and make the changes necessary as per the market requirement.

Our analysis team tracks, foresees and looks for change in trends. From renting to subscription or leasing, we make sure that we invest heavily into research and development to keep innovating and launch new services. This has given us an edge to be the pioneers of any new launches and stay ahead of the game.

What are your tips for other entrepreneurs looking to start a company in the UAE?

Every entrepreneur has their own set of vision and values. However, it is important to have a clear vision and an understanding of the road map ahead. Know the market and be at the right location for your company, while a smart team will surely help strengthen your vision.

What kind of support have you received from DSOA while starting the venture?

Dubai Silicon Oasis is one of the best places to start a business. The support we received was phenomenal. The policies, rules, and regulations are straightforward. The licensing architecture is well documented and explained, perfect for small companies to begin and get started without worrying a lot. It’s a one-stop destination where all your queries are answered, and the authorities are methodical and easy to work with. Everything is online, offering a seamless experience.

The company has aggressive plans to launch across GCC out of which we have already laid our footprint in Oman. We are also looking at expanding in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. Moving forward, we are also looking at expansion opportunities in Europe and other western markets.

Regarding the launch of the new app, this is going to be one of a kind all-in-one mobility platform with the objective to get the clients to the car within hours.

This all-in-one super quick app will serve all the mobility requirements starting from one day to 36 months. The app will feature brand new and latest car models direct from dealers at cost-effective rates, without any minimum commitment.

We are aiming to improve the clinical outcomes in the fight against breast cancer.

- Khalid Shaikh, Founder and CEO, Prognica

Tell us about Prognica and its operations?

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Regular screening and early detection reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer. Building new tools to more effectively diagnose the disease can have a major impact on a large segment of the population.

Radiologists are often faced with an ever-increasing number of cases. The actual process of medical image analysis is repetitive and time-consuming as a great deal of time and effort is spent on scrutinising images for lymph nodes for metastases that in the end turn out to be benign. Prognica Labs is a Dubai-based AI-powered health-tech start-up aiming to improve the clinical outcomes in the fight against breast cancer. Prognica analyses medical images and generates information and data to help predict and diagnose cancer using artificial intelligence and deep learning. We are tackling a long-term goal by working on breast cancer screening and diagnostics to make it more accurate, affordable and accessible.

What essentially encouraged you to start this venture?

Prognica Labs was ideated back in early 2019, but the company was officially launched and registered in 2020.

I wanted to develop something in healthcare, which will directly impact the society. After interacting with a few breast cancer survivors, I started thinking that there should be some easy, fast and accurate way to detect and diagnose the disease.

With our proprietary algorithm, it automatically detects the abnormality in mammogram and breast ultrasound images, identifies masses and helps in segmentation, and features extraction and classification of the lesion.

Finally, why did you choose DSO as the headquarters for the company? What kind of support have you received from DSOA while starting the venture?

Every industry grows in certain clusters where the specific set of resources, support infrastructure and systems foster such growth. This is even more relevant in case of start-ups, where there is a lot of external engagement and dependencies.

DTEC, at DSOA, provides this set-up really well, which has an access to a fresh talent pool from universities and colleges at Dubai Academic City, as well as to mentors and peers.

Most of the start-ups have been building products to solve modern-day problems. I think, the huge DSO community has the user base of awesome early adopters — in the right age bracket, with disposable income.

DSOA and DTEC management have been very supportive not only while starting the venture but even during the entrepreneurial journey.

This is the perfect time for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE to flourish even further.

- Shadaab Ahmed, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Techrobotix

Could you share some information on Techrobotix and its products and solutions?

Techrobotix is an interactive technology company providing solutions for events, exhibitions, museums, sales centres, sports events and much more. We operate under three main verticals — hardware (sales and rental), software and content. Our products and solutions range from touch screen applications and augmented reality experiences to mechatronics and sensor-based applications.

You launched your company in 2012. What prompted you to launch your business in DSO?

Techrobotix started its journey with its founding team of three members. For us, as an IT company, DSO seemed to be the perfect fit with its potential to grow as an IT hub and become the Silicon Valley of the UAE. The process of setting up a company, including the right legal structure for company formation, renting office space, visas etc., was an ease with DSO authorities. It is our ninth year in DSO and we have grown from a team of three to 15.

How would you like to assess the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE?

It has grown and matured — the government of the UAE has come up with several new strategies and initiatives to strengthen the start-up ecosystem and with Expo 2020 slated to run soon, it seems the perfect time for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE to flourish even further.

What are your tips for entrepreneurs planning to start their business in the UAE?

Keep it simple at the start. Sometimes entrepreneurs can get caught in the moment and stretch beyond what they need. Once the business is set, observe and diversify in the markets and industries that are in demand and have high potential for growth. Lastly, have patience, there will be days, months and years when things don’t go your way — in the end it is all worth it.