Military personnel, firefighter, airline pilot, police officer: the four most stressful jobs in the world, according to an annual survey by Forbes of the positions that bring the most pressure. No real surprises there. But the job at number five in the list might initially raise an eyebrow – event coordinator.
However, when you take into account the immense amount of organization, multi-tasking, absorbing and acting on information, deadline and budget pressure, long-term planning and immediate response involved – all against a backdrop where one oversight can start a domino effect that turns it into a crisis –the strain that comes with event management starts to make perfect sense.
Now, however, a startup currently being incubated at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) is providing event organizers with software designed for seamlessness. It’s called Contactless.io, and its value to the event industry is as wide and varied as the number of people those in charge of ensuring a conference, seminar or exhibition meets expectations have to deal with on a daily basis.
Devised by techpreneur Ahmed Fawzi, Contactless.io –used by more than 40 clients in Qatar, with a string of success stories already under its belt, and now set to be launched globally – allows event organizers to manage venues, registration forms, name-badges, crew, and databases through a single tool. Designed to provide support before, during, and after the event, it also offers a real-time statistics dashboard to give events teams up-to-the-second information, and uses AI and data-mining expertise to bring a new dimension to post-event analytics. And you can carry it around in your pocket.
It has been created through Nano Technovations, the company Ahmed formed in 2007 after hitting on the idea of capitalizing on unused available technologies to create new, Qatar-developed innovations. As its QSTP-based Product Director, he manages a 12-strong Contactless.io team across three continents, with one goal – making Contactless.io the event management tool of choice at international level.
“No matter what the scope of the event is, it’s all about the execution, and the time you get for that is a continuous 48-to-72-hour period,” he says. “And you have to work with everyone from PR agencies to caterers, from airlines to exhibitors, from venue owners to logistics providers, pulling together information from all these sources and more. It’s no wonder that event management is seen as being so pressurized.
“Contactless sits in the middle of all these stakeholders, providing one, clear project management system that updates in real-time. It allows an event organizer to truly run the show themselves; it provides an immense amount of data that helps users understand market trends, expenditure, attendee behavior, and how to plan future events; and it’s designed in a way that means, as your company grows, it will grow with you.
“We’ve already handled more than 30 events, captured the vast majority of the market we operate in, and gained a reputation as a service provider capable of meeting the specific needs of different players within the industry. Now we want to take it into the international market, expanding our presence and sales while continuing to accelerate our software development.”
Ahmed’s tech journey has followed the path less travelled. He decided not to continue with three college and university courses, choosing instead to launch Nano Technovations. But as he says: “If I broke a toy when I was a kid, my father would tell me I’d better fix it because I wasn’t getting a new one – and I became so fascinated with components that I started buying toys in markets and breaking them just so I could put them back together again.
“I always felt that, if you’d fixed it, you’d really earned it. I think that’s where my love for mixing and matching technologies comes from.”
Having identified event management as being in need of such solutions, Ahmed devoted his energies into developing software “that combines science with what happens on-site at an event”. The result was Contactless.io, which made its first appearance at the 2012 Qatar Career Fair after Ahmed was approached by organizers to find a way of enabling it to be a paperless event.
Contactless.io has been based at the QSTP Incubation Centre since July 2017, with Ahmed saying: “It gives us such a huge advantage in terms of access to investors and clients, because of the Free Zone status of QSTP, and whatever we need to help us develop our product is taken care of – I really feel we belong here, that we are where we need to be.
“It’s so rewarding when you have an idea and see it become something that people want, need, and use, and then they tell you how it has changed their way of doing things and now they can never go back to how they were doing them before. That’s what being a tech entrepreneur does – it allows you to make the things you envision happen, and improve people’s lives.
“And I never find it challenging, or feel like I’m going to work. I’m excited about what I do and what my team does. Working to someone else’s plan just doesn’t make sense to me when you can work to your own.”
TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR, YOU NEED TO…
Ahmed Fawzi says: “Realize you only fail when you quit trying to succeed. A lot of entrepreneurs quit before their time. I believe if you stick with it, you will make it.”
To discover more about Contactless.io, visit www.contactless.io