By Mohamed Alaa El Din
Avidbeam Company seeks to launch its platform specialised in analysing video data before the end of 2015. According to the company CEO and founder Hani El-Gebaly in an interview with Daily News Egypt, they are now involved in negotiations with a number of foreign and local companies to invest in them in exchange for obtaining a non-majority share. The company is also working on cooperating with two security bodies in the Egyptian market to present solutions to analyse video data.
How did the idea of your company emerge?
First of all, I have work experience in the field of technology through my work in Intel for more than 15 years, in the company’s branch in the US. In 2010, I came back to Egypt to lead Intel’s research and development team in Egypt. I was one of three people: the most major pillars for establishing the company’s branch in Egypt.
I had significant experience in the field of multimedia and data analysis technology through my work in Intel. However in 2014, Intel decided to close its research and development centres throughout the world and chose to focus in only two places: Berlin and Bangalore. So I decided to leave the company and dedicate my time to work on the technology of analysing video data by establishing my company Avidbeam.
What encouraged you to start your own investment in spite of the economic circumstances through this period?
First of all, we have to assert that innovative technological solutions do not stop at local clients as a market but exceed these limits and are demanded in different markets, which is a strong factor to start my own investment. That is in addition to the advanced technology broadly demanded on the local level, especially by the governmental bodies and large companies. This gives it a good chance to be a good investment.
Another factor is the availability of a good work team that is trained on the technology of analysing video data while working with me in Intel before closing its research centre in Egypt. We were working on that technology since we were in Intel but it saw the light through Avidbeam.
Explain to us the service the company offers and how the beginning was?
We work on using artificial intelligence to extract accurate information from the videos; that comes under the data analysis technology Big Data, an advanced technology not spread properly yet. It is still in an early stage of development and spreading.
That technology can be used in two ways; for security, where the security bodies use it to reach specific information or following the numbers of car plates for instance. The other way is economic use, where it helps the client to figure out the selling and buying movement rates for instance and determine the kind of clients visiting them. That is in addition to figuring out which goods draw their attention or following up on the transportation movement for the shipping companies and which drivers are the most productive. All of that is through providing accurate information through analysing the data extracted from the videos.
The technology we provide depends on deriving information from thousands of videos and analysing them in a very short time that does not exceed minutes. In a nutshell, the technology we provide is summed up in converting the videos to results in the form of numbers and statistics.
As for the beginning of the company, it already steady took steps because of the advanced technology it provides and our cooperation with a number of clients from huge companies like Intel. This pushed the company’s development forward and supported it to be popular.
Does the technology you provide replace security personnel specialised in following up on surveillance cameras?
Of course not; however at the same time, the data analysis technology has to be used to reach accurate information, which makes the surveillance cameras important. The personnel cannot be relied on in that field. According to studies, a person cannot focus more than 20 minutes daily in following up on the surveillance cameras.
How can we take advantage of that technology on the level of government services?
There are many uses for the technology offered by Avidbeam. For example, it can be used to monitor car licence plate on highways across the gates of different governorates, which will provide data about the cars’ speed, determine speed violations, and immediately punish drivers. In addition to that, it may be used to identify stolen vehicles and determine the density of traffic.
Is there any cooperation with government agencies to benefit from your service?
Currently, we are carrying on experiments with two security agencies in Egypt to use the video data analysis technology to monitor roads. This is in addition to working on the implementation of a similar project in Saudi Arabia. We are also working on analysing camera data in a number of warehouses in various states in the US.
How about cooperation with the private sector?
We cooperate with a number of clients from the private sector, the most prominent of which is CityStars Mall, where we were asked to analyse data to identify their most loyal customers. We can analyse visiting rates per month and the duration of the visit to award discount coupons to those loyal customers. We are already working on the data analysis of their cameras to identify the loyal customers of the mall.
How long does data analysis of video clips take?
The duration taken to analyse data varies according to the required data. However, the analysis of 1,000 hours of video takes between 2,000 to 10,000 hours. Avidbeam technology allows cutting that analysis of each and every video on its own, which allows the client to benefit from the data provided in the analysed sections.
How will you spread your services, especially since they are not local?
We are trying to achieve proliferation by cooperating with international companies such as Intel- Microsoft, which thinks that our services are complementary to their technological solutions. We are now carrying out a project in cooperation with Intel for one of the telecom service providers in Egypt in the field of video data analysis.
What are your plans for the upcoming period?
We are currently working on setting up a platform from which we can provide video analysis programmes in cooperation with major international companies. This way, customer can insert the video clip they want to analyse and use the appropriate programme to get the analysis themselves by using cloud computing technology.
Indeed, we started creating agreements with international companies to cooperate with us in this part and we started with Intel with the hope of launching the platform before the end of 2015.
How long did the implementation of the technology offered by your company take?
It took us about a year, thanks to the presence of an integrated team with lots of experience through its work with global companies. Some used to write programmes for the global Nokia Corporation and others were working in the US Broadcom Company.
How do see your services’ chances of growing domestically in the upcoming period?
In general, data analysis technology has a great chance to grow. Notably the Egyptian government tends to currently use technology in various governmental services. Even the video data analysis will escalate faster in case of enforcing law that obligates trade buildings and factories to use surveillance cameras.
How do you view investment opportunities within the Egyptian market?
Egypt is full of investment opportunities but the problem lies in the slow development of trading. Therefore, we work hard to extend our services outside Egypt, whether in the Gulf markets, European markets, or the US markets. We seek to create a model for local companies by reaching the global market based on the advanced technology, which we provide.
Did you receive acquirement offers from foreign companies?
We actually received a number of acquirement offers but it is very early to talk about selling the company in the current period because it is still in its early phase. Selling it now will be a waste of effort and we put so much effort in establishing it. We need to increase the size of our projects and finish building the stage, which we are trying to launch currently. We are also increasing the number of our clients to receive an evaluation that meets the technology we provide. However we do not have plans to sell it currently or afterwards.
We seek to attract investments and currently hold negotiations with three companies to pump investments in our company for a share of the company in addition to a number of investment funds and foreign companies. We hope to reach an agreement with one of the companies in Silicon Valley, which would help us achieve the development target of our services.
What kind of advice can you give to start-ups when negotiating for investment?
First, they should not rush attracting investments. The more their company succeeds the more they can increase their size of trading as well as their number of clients, have creative solutions, the more they can get larger investments.
They also should not depend only on the financial value when they negotiate with the investor but they should try to work with international experienced investors to link their companies with the global market. They also should not negotiate for investments while their companies are suffering financial problems because that will decrease their value.
How can we have a wide scale of Egyptian companies that provide creative solutions?
We actually have many companies that provide advanced technological solutions inside and outside Egypt. We also have adequate human resources but we suffer from the lack of the suitable environment that allows the development of the leading companies, whether legislations or governmental routine. We should focus on developing education, especially engineering studies. There is a lack of enough success stories to be an idol for the start-ups.