Abdul Rahman AlAshraf is currently working on further development of his #EYA16 winning project FreeCom. As one of the EYA Rockstars he talks about the initial idea behind his innovation, the challenges he’s facing and has some good advice to bring your project on the track of success!
You won the European Youth Award 2016 with your project FreeCom. How was the project born? What was the initial idea behind it?
The whole idea of FreeCom came to me when we used to suffer everyday from disconnectivity in my home country. TInternet and electricity were not stable and we needed an alternative way to communicate than using the internet or telephone. They used to be worthless when the service was gone.
So I was thinking about a new method to communicate without going back to internet or mobile network. The starting point was recognizing many technologies in our smart phones that we dont really often use to communicate like Bluetooth, Wifi-Direct, NFC and other creative methods like radio waves or even ultrasound. When I moved to Germany I had the chance to work on a research for over six monthes to develop a new tool that could be an alternative solution. And in the end of this research in 2016 I was able to make my first prototype.
How did your project develop since November 2016?
After winning the EYA a lot of media chanels spotted the light on my project. And got popular somehow. Many people contacted me and offered help and we worked together vulontarily and romotley. So I also discussed with many expert the best way to establish the base of my project.
FreeCom will be provided by three methods: The first is “FreeCom SDK” for developers where they can add FreeCom tools to their apps to make it functional offline. Secondly there is the “FreeCom App” which people can download to communicate offline. And last but not least the “FreeCom Services” like hardware USB stick which can provide offline functionalities to any machine connected besides Individual services and softwares for specific cases.
Currenlty we are still working on the first step which is FreeCom SDK. Our team has two new intern students working on and researching. Beside that FreeCom was joining many conferences and international stages to talk about the importance of such a technology and of course how it could help a lot of people around the world.
How did EYA help you to further develop your project?
The most important thing that EYA provided is the feedback during the festival and the students and experts suggestions and advices. Beside the big network that I connected to. And for sure the award itself was a huge push for FreeCom.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
We used to work voluntarily and finance the project from our personal budget to buy tools, software or even for freelancer employees for specific tasks. Right at the moment we need a bigger team which work regularly. So we are looking for support or investment funds to be able to employe developers work full time on this project. Otherwise proceeding would be so hard and take too long.
Do you have any tips or advice for all the other young social entrepreneurs and start-ups to bring their projects on the success track?
If you belive in an idea try to spread it as much as you can . Talk about it to anyone who could be interested. If ideas stay hidden no one will know about them and will get definitely no support. People who belive in the importance of your project will be your first supporters and work with you and help you to get more chances.
The most important thing in my oppenion is building a bigger network and sharing more ideas and disuss it with the people you are connected to. They will bring briliant ideas to your project besides confidence.