Creating a startup in only 10 days is the biggest challenge at the Arab Innovation Academy. In addition to elaborating on their startup ideas, each participant will have to learn how to cooperate and work in international teams with people from completely different backgrounds—it’s an intense experience, but definitely a worthy one. While turning an idea into reality in a very short period is not easy, don’t worry, you won’t be alone. Thanks to AIA mentors, this challenge is achievable.

During your 10 days in Qatar, you’ll be mentored by experienced professionals who will help you learn how to overcome your daily challenges. This is a unique opportunity to connect with people that are esteemed references in their industries. With experts in entrepreneurship, startups, design, software, hardware, IP lawyers, and coaches, there’s a lot to discover.

In this article, you’ll learn a bit more about this top-notch team that you’ll meet in Qatar.

1. Rick Rasmussen – Chief of Mentors

Rick Rasmussen is an industry fellow and the Director of Startup Programs at UC Berkeley. He has been on the executive teams of three separate companies, each of which began with no revenue, raised rounds from leading VCs, went public, and sold for a collective $8 billion.

A native of Silicon Valley, Rick founded the Rasmussen Consulting Group (of which he is the Principal) and serves as the Managing Director at Concordia Ventures. 

As the Chief of Mentors of EIA’s Portugal program, he has direct experience in the business industry, government, venture capital, and academia. 

2. Muyesser Taqi-Eddin – Marketing Mentor

The founder of TechWadi—a non-profit organization building bridges between SV and the Arab tech community—is an expert on connecting these two worlds. Muyesser Taqi-Eddin is an international marketing consultant with extensive experience in all facets of marketing in high-tech, consumer product goods, and non-profit fields. 

AIA Mentors: Muyesser

In 2013, Taqi-Eddin co-founded the Innovation Catalysts Institute where she hosts entrepreneurs from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the Silicon Valley. At AIA 2020, she’ll be mentoring our participants on their marketing challenges.

3. Zaid Haque – Speaker 

Currently working as Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, Zaid Haque has an impressive background with companies like Amazon and Uber on his résumé. Haque is a specialist in User Experience Design. 

Zaid Haque - AIA Mentors

Throughout his career, he’s investigated how to incorporate emerging technology into businesses to improve customer experiences and drive operational efficiency. This startup enthusiast will bring AIA participants his knowledge obtained with three startups: a leading transportation and mobility company, a World-Class Airline, and a Formula 1 Racing Team.

4. Mohammad Zebian – Chief Mentor

The Program Manager or Acceleration at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) works closely with Qatar research community. Mohammad Zebian also works with aspiring entrepreneurs to identify opportunities and direct support on the development of their companies.  

Zebian has extensive experience in tech and launching startups. As an AIA mentor, he will guide participants to develop their ideas, identify the target market, and reach potential investors.

5. Maher Hakim – Investor

Maher Hakim has worked in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years. In 2015, he moved to Qatar to teach at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar. Since then, Hakim has been flying between Qatar and San Francisco (USA) working on different innovation and tech projects around the globe.

The Managing Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park is an innovation enthusiast, startup coach, and ecosystem builder. Maher Hakim is also the Executive Director at CITRIS Foundry—UC Berkeley’s innovation center focused on tech founders and startups coming out of the research labs and classrooms of UC Berkeley.

6. Daniel Vila Boa – Chief Mentor

Daniel Vila Boa has the international spirit in his veins, having been born in South Africa and living in Portugal since he was 14. He exited his first company, the largest Portuguese social network, for the largest media group in Portugal, Grupo Impresa, when he was 25.

Daniel has a background in Computer Science and Engineering and is the Founder and CEO of Chilltime, a Technology and Product Innovation company. Vila Boa is an entrepreneurship enthusiast and a Chief Mentor at AIA 2020.

7. Hayfa Al-Abdulla – Chief Mentor

One of the Chief Mentors at the Arab Innovation Academy, Hayfa Al-Abdulla, has an important role in the innovation ecosystem in Qatar. For the last seven years, Al-Abdulla has been working at Qatar Science & Technology Park, and currently serves as the Innovation Director.

Hayfa Al-Abdullah
source: The Peninsula Qatar

With a bachelor’s degree in Computing and an MBA from Qatar University, Al-Abdulla is also a business writer, fashion enthusiast, and co-founder of Aadima, a new casual womenswear line. 

8. Sachin Kumar – Tech Mentor

Working as a Google Developer Expert, Sachin Kumar is a tech enthusiast and an innovation-driven professional. Throughout his career, Kumar has always had a passion for creating something unique yet powerful.

As an AIA mentor, Sachin Kumer will guide participants to work on finding answers for the world’s largest problems.

Excited to meet AIA Mentors in person? Don’t forget that this is just a sneak peek of the Arab Innovation Academy star team. Learn more about some of the key people who help us make the world’s leading entrepreneurship program!