MUSCAT: Othman al Mandhari, the Founder and CEO of InnoTech, winner of the Best Entrepreneur Award in 2017, is urging fellow Omani entrepreneurs to be ready for disappointments and unpleasant surprises as they pursue their startup dreams.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the most difficult things to do and you will succeed if you fight for your company and never give up no matter what!” the award-winning businessman said of his four year struggle through to ultimate success.
As with any endeavour, Othman faced challenges and obstacles along the way. “Starting a hardware startup is really difficult because you need huge investments and you cannot afford to make a mistake. By the time we got started, there were no investors in Oman willing to invest in a tech startup at all.”
Eventually, Othman and his partners participated in two programmes for SME development: the Cell programme of Omifco and the BP Khazzan with Sharakah, both of which are social investment programmes.
In January 2013, just before graduation, Othman and his team decided to start a company they felt would change the future of manufacturing in Oman. They decided to develop digital fabrication and manufacturing services and they are proud to be the first in Oman to get cutting-edge technology such as 3D printing. They also focus on spreading the knowledge on digital fabrication and manufacturing in Oman.
The company’s new product, InnoBox, is being exported worldwide. InnoBox is an educational toy for children to learn electronics in a safe, fun and practical way using custom designed electronic parts that snap together easily using magnets.
And instead of a boring tutorial for children to learn the content, they developed their own mobile game app for both iOS and Android. So children can learn by playing their game and then use InnoBox hardware to apply what they have learned!
Winning the Best Entrepreneur Award for 2017 gave Othman and his team the boost to innovate further. They have also participated in exhibitions locally and internationally from London to China.
Asked why customers would choose them over their competitors, Othman said, “Our customers select us over our competitors because we invest huge amounts of time and money to make sure we deliver the best quality for our customers, and to meet with them all the time to understand their needs and make InnoBox better for them.”
“In 2017 we manufactured 100 products to test the market and they were all sold in less than 10 days. We listened carefully to the 100 users and developed InnoBox. We are making 300 now and even before they are ready they are all pre-ordered!
So we decided that it is time to go for mass production and we will be signing deals with re-sellers all over the world,” he concluded.