In celebration of Innovation, Rowad is highlighting our local talent, and shedding the spotlight on our local innovator Mohamed Sheikhaldeen, the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of EXA Technologies Inc., the world’s Fastest Online Render farm!
Mohamed and his team won several regional and international awards for their innovation. Those include the Intel Business Challenge in the GCC, 1st place in the MENA region, and were awarded as one of the top 8 projects (out of 18,000!) in Intel’s Global Challenge in Silicon Valley. Impressive enough?! Indeed..
We sat down with Mohamed to know more about him and his company, and asked him the following questions:
Tell us about your innovative concept.. Where did the idea come from?
‘Computer Games! I love computer games, plus i really like to know "how things work". So by digging into how "games" work, I got acquainted with how particular computer components are responsible for game "processing" which is the Video card, also called Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).
One day I came across a research paper about using the GPU in non-graphical usages, they called it General Purpose GPU or GPGPU. I then about the British using GPGPU for Seismic Analysis (Oil exploration). So i thought I would get into this GPGPU thing too.’
‘I built a supercomputer cluster for University of Bahrain (UoB) back in 2010 and in 2011 got my seed investment for EXA.io’
Tell us about your journey.. How did you start? What were the challenges you had faced? And how did you convince investors of your concept?
‘The start of my journey was from games as i mentioned above. But by the time i graduated from UoB in 2010, I had had several not so successful entrepreneurial experiences! So EXA.io was my 3rd attempt actually!
EXA.io is 3D rendering (processing) supercomputing based cloud service, where 3d designers and engineers can upload their files and have it processed nearly 112 times faster at a fraction of the cost. Built by myself, and my co-founders Zakaria Moustapha and Ibrahim Mokdad.
After we got the Investment from SeedStartup in Dubai (which is the Dubai Chapter of the Global TechStars network) we had a very hard time incorporating the Company! We ended up registering the company in Delaware, USA.
More problems came up when we tackled the issue of selling our service, as a fresh startup we have no reputation to convince our prospects, that’s when I found out about a fantastic book called S.P.I.N. selling, i really recommend it!
My Co-founder Zakaria Moustapha; whom is also our Chief Competition Officer CCO, was registering in every single startup competition out there, and that’s when we got into the Intel Business Challenge and won the 2013 Rounds in GCC, MENA and Top 8 in the Global version in Silicon Valley, just over a year ago.’
Where have you reached with the business? And where are you heading?
‘We have hit a wall of growth in Bahrain, so we are expanding elsewhere. We have prospects in Jordan, there is a big hive (300+) early stage studios in Malaysia; including the studio that won Oscars for Visual Effects in making of the movie "Life of Pi" and i was astonished to find out that Japan has NO 3D processing service, we are racing with time to open up there too! ($4+ Trillion market with NO competition!) So I was in Tokyo last June and we got clearance to start using a Japanese Supercomputing facility (called Focus, in Kobe) as soon as we are done with legal setup there.
What would you like to tell other innovators whom are struggling in their journey?
‘We wake up every day to fix problems. That’s the cool part, no "change" comes without friction, and little change daily.. That’s how one can change the world eventually. So yeah, I won't call it a struggle but rather a challenge that is waiting to be claimed by the hard worker.’
To know more about Mohamed and about EXA Technologies, log onto the company website: http://www.exa.io
By Mariam Eshaq