Here is an inspiring story of a Pakistani electrical engineer who successfully turned his university project into a startup. Faaiz Arbab, a student of MS electrical engineering at LUMS has come up with an idea of a Pakistani made smart wheelchair to help the disabled persons get rid of dependence.
Faaiz Arbab is also the founder of Ayoub (Yaqoob Engineering Company) Ayeco. Pvt (Ltd.) which manufactures the electric wheelchairs which are available in the market for the users.
Arbab’s endeavor to roll out locally made smart wheelchair named GOBEE which is a better alternative of its Chinese counterpart in the market is being funded by NIC (National Incubation Center) in LUMS.
The Journey of Building Pakistan’s First Smart Wheelchair
HoursTV interviewed Faaiz Arbab to know how he hit upon this idea and thought to build a smartphone-controlled wheelchair in Pakistan and what were challenges that he faced in the process.
Interestingly, Faaiz had been working on his project from the second semester of his BS Electrical Engineering that he passed from UET (University of Engineering and Technology) Texila.
While talking to HoursTV, he revealed that he hit upon the idea when he saw how her grandmother was dependent upon others for mobility after a bone fracture. So, he thought the need for a smart wheelchair which was lightweight, foldable and easy to operate for the users without being dependent upon some relatives or attendants.
How Smart Wheelchair Works?
An essential feature of what Arbaab says to be Pakistan’s first smart wheelchair is that it is controllable with the help of a smartphone. One needs to give it voice commands to move right, left and came back, through a smartphone app and Bluetooth connectivity.
Competitive Features of Wheelchair
There is a reason why Faaiz Arbab’s product is a smart device. First of all, it caters to the needs of those suffering from lower limb disability and also upper limb disability. Secondly, it is designed by keeping in view the comfort level of the user. It has different angles which make it easy for users to adjust their posture according to their comfort.
While talking to HoursTV Faaiz also revealed that smart wheelchair had a drive time of 20 km after being charged for three and a half hours.
Further, the wheelchair weighs only 35 kg as compared to its counterparts which can weight up to 80 to 90 kgs. Also, being foldable is an additional feature which makes it portable and usable for outdoor purposes.
A Cheap but High-Quality Alternative to Chinese Wheelchairs
According to Faaiz, Pakistanis have been buying Chinese made smart wheelchair which is more expensive. But, his startup is bringing in products which are nearly half the price of Chinese products and high in quality. The entrepreneur has also talked about offering a proper warranty and after sale services through customer care centers. So, users in the form of GOBEE, are going to get a complete and cost-effective package.
Doing Research for the Market Demand
The case study of GOBEE Wheelchair is quite exciting and offers a complete guide for the wannabe entrepreneurs. For a start-up, it is not only an idea which is important but also its validation, feasibility, and ability to fill in the gap, are also factors which have greater significance. For this purpose, one must need to know if there exists a market demand for some product or not.
When we asked Faaiz Araab about how he surveyed market demand, he told that it was a tough process. Unfortunately, there was no representation of disabled persons in population Census 2017, and he had to rely on data from population census 1998. From using that data, he projected the number of disable persons in Pakistan according to the current population of the country and concluded it to be around 800,000, which is a rough estimate.
The Need for Smart WheelChair in Pakistan
Faaiz is of the opinion that there exists a demand for a smart wheelchair in Pakistan and people are willing to buy it, particularly when it has some additional features and it is also available in lesser price. Further, an ability to control Wheelchair with simple voice commands and just in a manner of the remote control device is what offers them ease of use.
Ayeco is also working on bringing similar products for visually impaired individuals too.
A Takeaway for Pakistani Youngsters
The IT and startup culture in Pakistan is flourishing every day. Faaiz Arbab who took an initiative of using his knowledge to solve a significant problem for the disabled persons is happy that Government in Pakistan is taking measures to encourage the youngsters to start their projects and bring their product in the market.
His message to the youth of Pakistan is simple; he wants them to look around, find a problem that needs good social and economical solution, utilize their knowledge to solve it and create something purposeful. The young entrepreneur wants its peers to be a job creator rather than being a job seeker.