A Qatari entrepreneur has successfully launched his company and has hailed the backing he received from Qatar Science and Technology Park’s highly-acclaimed flagship accelerator program – XLR8.

Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis, along with co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, Abdul Ali, set up Thakaa Technologies with a vision to solve the community’s problems through technology; and the drive to seek further support for their idea encouraged Khamis and Ali to participate in Qatar Science and Technology Park’s (QSTP’s) XLR8 program, which took place from February to April last year.

Khamis was part of the eighth cycle of XLR8 program which included contestants from season 11 of Qatar Foundation’s (QF’s) hugely popular edutainment TV show Stars of Science – where he was one of the finalists. Khamis went on to co-found, and become the Chief Executive Officer of Thakaa Technologies, a Qatari-based Internet of Things (IoT) hardware start-up that specializes in the design and manufacture of smart and innovative hardware products.

Founded earlier this year, Thakaa Technologies’ design capabilities range from creating sensors to developing software and integrating it with hardware. Its main activities are research and development, product development, and technical consulting.

“We were thankful for the opportunity to be part of XLR8, as it gave us insights into the early stages of developing a start-up. It was especially helpful when we needed to lay down our thoughts into the Business Model Canvas and validate our idea with a minimum viable product. Learning how to create a prototype in the most cost-effective manner was also tremendously important.

“While everything we learned during the program was beneficial, what was instrumental was learning how to validate the idea with potential customers and receiving their feedback as early and as often as possible to improve the product.”, said Khamis.

XLR8 is a unique and intensive 10-week program that helps promising innovators and entrepreneurs determine if their tech-based ideas have commercial viability by giving them the tools they need to assess market fit, customer traction, and investor awareness. Since its inception in 2008, XLR8 has inspired over 300 budding entrepreneurs to pursue their ambitions.

Thakaa Technologies has recently incubated at QSTP’s Free Zone, a part of Qatar Foundation Research Development and Innovation, and now has the opportunity to enjoy the numerous benefits associated with that, including access to QSTP’s expert mentorship, subsidized business support services, state-of-the-art prototyping facilities, and networking events.

Khamis also highlighted the support he received from all of XLR8’s mentors, particularly appreciating the lead instructor, Mohammed Zebian, QSTP Program Manager – Acceleration.

“Mr. Zebian was great at explaining the small details at every step of the product development, especially since he had worked on his own start-up before, so he was speaking from experience. This was very helpful for a start-up like ours, which came into the program with just an idea and needed guidance from A to Z,” he said.

Using their learnings from the program, Thakaa Technologies has been developing their first product, ‘Sajdah,’ the world’s first smart educational prayer rug, set to be launched in the local market soon.

The rug aims to benefit Muslims of all ages when it comes to their daily routine of regular prayers. It enables its users to learn prayers, maintain correct postures, and memorize sections of the Qur’an. The special mat uses cutting-edge technology to monitor users’ movements, when to say the appropriate prayers, and in which posture. Accompanied by an application on a user’s smart phone, Sajdah is also useful for experienced Muslims who want to read verses from The Qur’an which they have not memorised when saying their prayers.

Reflecting on his experience in the XLR8 program, Khamis said: “XLR8 is one of the best programs available in Qatar to take entrepreneurs with technology-based ideas to the next level and help them take their first steps into becoming a business. My advice to young innovators with dreams of making it big is to apply for the next cycle of XLR8 programs. Do not wait. This is the right time to start a business around technology.

“Despite all the issues surrounding the pandemic, don’t give up. It’s not easy to start a business, let alone drive it to success, but as a start-up, you should always be flexible and be able to adapt to difficult situations. Look at the glass half-full, not half-empty. That is the entrepreneurial spirit,” he added.

For more information about Sajdah, please visit the official website www.getsajdah.com