Technology is becoming more and more important in the present scenario. What if we told you that technology and education could integrate? When talking about that, Edukko is a personalized peer-to-peer education application that enables students and parents to connect with teachers and access their support and learning services. We got in touch with Ahmed Tahir, the CTO of Edukko, who shared more about Edukko and discussed his journey.
How did it start?
We asked Ahmed, “What’s the idea behind Your Company?”
He starts with, “The idea started from our founder Mr Nelson Barrios, an experienced international teacher who taught in the UK, USA, Spain, and in the UAE. Regardless of the country, local and school communities sought his help and services for additional support, tuition, or advice regarding career choices. He wanted to change this difficult situation for parents and students and make the teaching pool of talent available to all without restrictions. Edukko (Apps: Edukko Learn & Edukko Teach) was created with the purpose of building a unique learning ecosystem in response to market demand. Now, Edukko specializes in providing educational-specific solutions for students in K-12, for Higher Education, and adult training initiatives. The educational services we provide include student mentorship programs, additional learning services, course, and career advisory services, work placement, internship services, and student health services. These services extend to both students and parents with the help of dedicated student success managers. In my role as a CTO of the company, I ensure we digitize these services to enable our customers.”
“How did you begin your career journey? Do you have some advice for beginners?”
“I initiated my career working on the business side of things and gradually transitioned to software development. I had years of experience under my belt creating projects that were web-ready and projects that were internally deployed in companies like western union and other contractors like Bolt, Lietuvos post, etc. Later transitioning into the role of an instructor for software engineering with the General Assembly in collaboration with MISK and MCIT. I joined a 501c(3) recognized non-profit, NJIKO Inc., fighting social injustice issues, based in US-IL as a Director of Outsourcing to oversee their development stack and create strategies to launch in the market.
I started working as a CTO in a development firm (Mham Intl. for IT) based in Saudi Arabia, leading transformational changes within the company, optimizing the current products, and developing cutting-edge immersive and non-immersive products, representing it to become the runners up during the Saudi Arabia’s LEAP event in the innovation space, landing multiple contracts in the application development sector in the process. Following up with my current profile as a CTO in the Edu-tech sector (Edukko).
I was also recently awarded the Internet 2.0 outstanding leadership award in Dubai for my contributions to the field of technology.” Says, Ahmed.
He further continues, “My advice for beginners who want to succeed in tech is to look for opportunities where you can realize a use case for which you can create a solution rather than becoming a dime a dozen. If you try reinventing the wheel, make sure that the wheels you create at least have unique rims. Try to keep an open mind and be adaptive to change because these are the most important aspects of success as a developer or in any tech perspective.”
End-goals Keeping Edukko Moving Forward
We were also curious about knowing Ahmed’s goals. So, we asked, “What’s your company’s goal?”
He replies, “The goal of my company Edukko is to ensure education is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the daily lives of students and parents alike, enabling them to succeed in their objectives effortlessly. In Edukko, we believe that every kid is unique, and so is their progress in life. With more than 15 programs ranging from the early years of education to the graduation level, we provide in-demand services focusing on customer satisfaction at every level. Preparing them to face their future with confidence and a continuous support system.”
Pathway To Team Success
We also wanted to know about Ahmed’s views on teamwork. When we asked him about what makes the team successful, he said:
“I suppose there are many ways to go about this, especially regarding reaching success with your team:
- Transparency of work is very important for teams to succeed; a clear vision goes a long way in achieving the goals in time. When a team works with ambiguous information and micromanagement at every level, it impacts their ownership of work. This leads to a blame culture in the company, which adversely affects productivity. So, a clear vision and effective product management help them understand and translate requirements into real, measurable work.
- When we talk about success in the team, management of team spirit and goals is something that decides a lot of things. The type of management style is important to draw the line between effectiveness and leniency. This also includes their continuous growth managed by their direct manager, either in the form of training or workshops. It’s important to build up your workforce into leaders rather than commanding them as corporate workers.
- One of the most important aspects is communication. If the teams work in silos, there is only so much they can achieve. Rather than having them work on only their part in a larger, more complex application, it is important they understand how their work impacts business and brings in experiences for the customer, with a larger vision.”
Importance of Employees & Team Motivation
We further asked, “How important are employees’ energy levels to your company’s success?”
Ahmed says, “We value the well-being of employees in our company at the highest level. When we speak of tech or any other field, if your workforce is unhappy or not motivated, it impacts the quality they output to the company. Showing and sharing with them the company vision and making them part of the larger picture makes certain that with the success of your company, they will, in turn, benefit from it. Show them partnerships rather than only authority.”
Our next question to Ahmed was, “How do you plan to motivate your team to go the extra mile?”
In Ahmed’s opinion, “We have engagement programs and team-building exercises that get the team excited about the vision of the company. Sharing small wins of the company during town halls also is a great way to show appreciation for their work. Rewarding overachievers is another way to motivate and create healthy competition among peers. As a leader, one must always listen to their team to be able to motivate them.
There are times when you can be incorrect, so owning up to it and listening to ways to solve a problem with your team helps them take ownership of the product and, in turn, work the extra mile to achieve those objectives. You as a leader can either shine at a distance from your goal as a lone star or with your team close to objectives as the sun.”
Apart from teamwork, several aspects help businesses grow. However, every business comes across challenges that they have to overcome to achieve their end goals. So, we asked Ahmed, “What keeps Your Company moving forward even during challenges?”
“At Edukko, we believe in the vision. One must dream big to achieve big. Simply dreaming is not enough, either. We make sure that regardless of the times, we put in the effort. Regardless of hurdles, we push through with continuous improvements to our products and features. As a company that started with an educator, it has grown into one which encompasses people from different expertise, and the growth has only gained momentum ever since.” he replies.
Major Role Of Technology
Technology is in trend, and several businesses are going through technological transitions nowadays. We wanted to know its role at Edukko. So, we asked Ahmed, “How do you think technology is leading to changes in businesses? Do you feel it’s helping Your Company grow?”
He shares, “Technology plays a vital role in everything we do nowadays. Recently I had the opportunity to sit as a panel expert to discuss Web3 and the challenges of technology related to Metaverse at Internet 2.0. We see how fast we are changing; Education is the same. Our means of consuming information have changed in a big way. We have seen the shift from textual consumption of information to more of a visual style. Now technology wants us not to be simply passive learners but rather interact with our education at every level online/offline. Our company’s growth is relative to technology, the services we offer, and how we integrate AI and Blockchain technology to drive education into its next evolution phase.”
While discussing adapting to digitalization, Ahmed continues:
“Quite fast, I must say. We are a digital-first company. Our products are mostly digital, with some exceptions of face-to-face learning models available for people as well. With the advancement of technology, we make sure that our product is always in line with the latest in tech, and the solutions we provide ascertain that our clients understand the technology behind our products so that they are always the owner of their data.”
Is Innovation the Key?
Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?
“Without innovation, it’s hard to penetrate any market nowadays. Competition sometimes makes certain that the customers receive the best available solutions. Our company operates on the same model, so we are not afraid to innovate and change. We want to use our technological innovations to solve everyday real-life issues in education for families and students.
Our research and deep understanding of today’s student life have helped us provide new customized solutions. Any company that is rigid to change eventually is broken by time. Take the example of Nokia. It could not adapt to the growing needs because of its rigidness towards it, which brought a major conglomerate to its knees.
Without criticism, there can be no innovation because your critics are your best product reviewers. Hence, we welcome criticism to test and improve our products as per customer demand. Our solutions are customized to the client’s needs and solve use cases for which there is little to no solution available in the MENA region.” he replies.
Integrating Education & Technology
We also wanted to know about the services and upcoming plans of Ahmed and his company. While discussing it, he continues:
“We provide a plethora of services, some of which are:
Preschool assessment: To help decide the curriculum for parents at a pre-primary level, based on their aptitude testing with educational industry experts.
Student Success Managers: Assign SSM to each student, who will work with parents, teachers, and students alike to cater to the needs as per the growth of the child.
Special Needs Assistance: If the child has special needs, we assign a counsellor to the student in tandem with the SSM to make sure that their educational needs are met and their pace of learning is managed.
Additional Learning: We provide world-class teachers available 24×7 to help the students with their additional learning requirements on a one-on-one basis, with access to free consultations.
Activity Camps: Retreats designed for either just students or student-parent combo where they can be away from technology to connect with each other or other students to ensure their mental and physical growth is the top priority.
Mentorship Program: We provide mentorship programs from multiple universities with our student mentors, including ivy league universities, to aspiring students, helping them chart a course for their future.
Internship Program: We collaborate with multiple govt and local companies to initiate internship programs for the students for their work studies, helping them get acquainted with the corporate environment.
All the above services are already in place and operational on the operations side and some on the tech side, and we are transitioning to bring all of these into our tech platforms (Web, iOS, Android). Additional to the above services, we are also launching an AI patent solution that will track your child’s progress and show the areas they need help in real-time, all of this is attached to their personal Edukko report card, which will be hosted on a blockchain network, so at any time you can view their growth and the certification and accolades they have received. All these services and more will be operational and available on our tech platforms for ease of access by the end of June 2023.”
A Word Of Advice
Lastly, we asked Ahmed Tahir, “Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?”
“Well, I would like to say that never be driven by what society wants you to do. Always ensure that your drive is where your forte and your affinity are. Even though it’s hard, try not to be a part of a crowd, and always ensure that any validation you need is staring right back at you in the mirror. There are reasons exotic cars have two seats while the bus has twenty.” he concluded.
Connect with Ahmed Tahir on LinkedIn.