Taking Learning One Step Ahead With Abwaab – Hamdi Tabbaa
We interviewed Hamdi Tabbaa, the Co-Founder & CEO of Abwaab. He has a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry and has expertise in business planning. His company focuses on enhancing the way the learning process works. Our interview below lets us learn about Abwaab and Hamdi’s journey through the years.
The Main Idea Revolving Abwaab
What’s the idea behind Abwaab? We asked.
“Abwaab was founded with the vision of unleashing human potential across the region. The idea came from the deep conviction that with the power of technology, the best quality education can be delivered to students at scale. Looking at the region, we saw that students heavily depend on after-school tutoring, which happens in 1v1s, group study sessions, and offline tutoring centres.
This is mainly due to the lower quality of education across public schools across the region, combined with a fast-growing population, making the population pyramid look pretty fat at the bottom, and school infrastructure not keeping up.
The idea is to offer students a platform to learn at their own pace, watch concept-based lessons, solve assessments, interact with their peers and teachers, and enjoy learning in a gamified and social setting. In the long term, we believe AI and Machine learning will enable us to deliver curated learning experiences that match each student’s learning pace.” Hamdi says.
We also wanted to know how Hamdi started his career and got to this point, so we asked him, “How did you begin your career journey? Do you have some advice for beginners?”
“I had a very difficult start to my career. I graduated from a top university in London, thinking I could land a job in the financial services industry, but the 2008 credit crunch was at its peak, and that dream never came true. I decided to return home and start a business in the F&B space, inspired by the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK. I envisioned introducing organized retail to the region at a neighbourhood level and tapping into the online grocery space. I can say that the project failed.
I faced many challenges, including operating at slim margins, not having enough know-how, thinking I knew the market and the customers, being unable to raise capital, going into online groceries too early in 2011, and several others.
I was fortunate later on to be able to join Uber to launch Jordan and build a few other markets. The first lesson I learnt at Uber was the importance of being proactive. Wherever you work, don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what to do, be proactive and get things running.
I would summarize a few words of advice into the following. Don’t assume you know everything (read about the Dunning-Kruger effect), always experiment and iterate, keep on learning, just start, and start with something very basic to validate market needs, and be proactive.” He shared.
Delivering Learning Experiences
We also asked, “What’s the goal of Your Company?”
“The goal of Abwaab is to deliver the best learning experiences, at scale, to students and learners across the region and beyond. We want to look back in a decade or two and say that we have been able to change the lives of an entire generation.
The best in the world of technology can be achieved while also building a sustainable business that delivers value to shareholders while providing top-quality service at affordable prices. A win-win situation for all.” he replied.
Teamwork & Success
We asked Hamdi Tabbaa a few questions about teamwork to understand his views on it.
What makes the team successful, in your opinion?
“Passion. When a team is passionate about the mission, everything else becomes a byproduct. From thinking creatively of different solutions to powering through long nights, collaborating together as a team, to continue experimenting and learning. A strong cult can be built when there is a sense of purpose and strong leadership.”
How important are employees’ energy levels to the success of Your Company?
“Extremely. When you are building a company that is taking a bet to move mountains and change an entire generation, the energy level needs to be through the roof. We are fortunate to have an outstanding superstar team that powers through day and night, inspiring each other and anyone else who joins.”
How do you plan to motivate your team to go the extra mile?
“First, we have been running a team-wide all-hands meeting every Monday morning since day 0 of being founded. This enables us to align the entire team on one vision, sharing the updates, celebrating the successes, highlighting the impact, and sharing the challenges. From the day we were a handful of people in the office to this day where hundreds of team members dial in from 5 countries across the region.
Second, we are all owners at Abwaab, real owners with stock options in the company.
The success of Abwaab will be the success of everyone that has contributed to that success.
Finally, one of the main factors we look at when recruiting is passion and belief in the mission we’re on to. As the team grows, and we rally more people believing in this mission, the result becomes a snowball effect where the same sense of purpose is shared across the team, and anyone new joins us.”
What keeps Your Company moving forward even during challenges?
“The mission. Not a day goes by without having student feedback shared on team chatting channels for everyone to read – automatically generated by what our students say about us. Of course, some are negative, and others are positive. But reading this feedback of how we’re changing lives, coupled with surveys and focus groups that we run, alongside the traction that we are seeing, I believe makes everyone see beyond the short-term challenges to work towards the long-term vision.” he replies.
Technology & Digitalization
How do you think technology is leading to changes in businesses?
“It has simply made things much more cost-effective and efficient, and if deployed in the right ways, it can have multiplier effects on society, the economy, and humanity as a whole,” says Hamdi Tabbaa.
Do you feel it’s helping your company grow?
“As a tech startup, our company’s core is based on technology. Thanks to innovations like the internet, smartphones, and mobile apps, today, startups like Abwaab are able to exist and deliver top-quality educational experiences to students at their fingertips, from major capital cities to small rural villages with a few hundred people of population.” he further continues.
How are your company adapting to digitalization?
“As an Edtech startup, the essence of what we’re doing is moving the offline learning experience, specifically after-school tutoring, from the offline world to the digital world. This will obviously not be an easy journey, but we believe it will pay off.”
Innovation & Future of Learning
We also asked, “Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?”
“One of our innovations that is gaining students’ love is the Abwaab League. The League enables students to compete head-to-head on solving academic and trivia problems in a live gamified 1v1 setting. Winners collect points and trophies and earn their spot on the local and global leaderboards. We are only out with our first product version, which has gained significant traction. We are yet to further innovate on it and make sure students are having a lot of fun while subconsciously learning different topics.” says Hamdi.
When we asked Hamdi to share about his services and plans, he continued:
“The future of online learning will cater to every student’s learning ability and needs. We are determined to continue working on innovating within our offering, delivering our learning experience to the masses at scale while building the technology that empowers every student through AI and ML to receive a curated learning experience that matches their own learning pace.”
Lastly, we asked, “Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?”
“The Internet was dubbed to be the great equalizer. Abwaab’s team today is determined to be looked back at from the future and be named the current generation’s equalizer.
We have recently launched an initiative called “EquAL” – Equal Access to Learning- where we aim to reach 1 million vulnerable students that do not have access to the basic rights of school education. We are open for anyone who would like to reach out to us and collaborate on this mission.” Hamdi concludes.
Connect with Hamdi Tabbaa on LinkedIn.