Founder and CEO of Maysalward and Chairman of Jordan Gaming Task Force with over than 18 years of international experience in the top leading Online and Mobile Value Added Services companies.
Commencement Speech at the Kings Academy 2016
Sharing Pixels of my Life and career experience with King's Academy 2016 Graduates in the Presence of Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, who deputies for His Majesty King Abdullah II at the graduation ceremony.
Jordan Gaming Lab
I have been involved in this since 2011, in order to support the video gaming sector, and to make Jordan a regional hub by raising awareness, and supporting youth in training them to design and develop mobile video games.
The App Challenge
In 2011, The App Challenge (TAC) kicked off as a Royal initiative directly from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. TAC is a school student-centered competition that invites young Jordanians to explore and engage in new emerging technologies. Managed and supervised by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD); with Maysalward Team, I was honored since the first app challenge Cycle to lead as an executive partner in the technical and skills development of the Students.
The Roller Coaster Ride
Lessons Learned from Maysalward Startup
Fragmented mobile Devices: Running different Operating systems, telecom operators handcuff your product reach, financial and human resources business Limitation. This was the situation in 2003 when we kicked off Maysalward mission and vision.
We started with SMS based games. The consumer was already familiar with SMS which was already used for content subscription channels, and Quiz competitions this decent revenue streams from value added services with initial seed investment we put secured our operation bread and butter.
To Enter into the world of Mobile Games; First we looked into distributing mobile games. By collaborating with a partner in UAE, we managed to secure a distribution deal for Spider-Man 2 mobile game, and all the related content such as ringtones and themes.
We wanted to learn more, and to get familiar with the market. So, when I went to Holland, I visited a small development studio called "Not the Fly" in a very small town called Venlo.
There, I learned about Apps, processes, and how Arabic localization can work as we were building with them to introduce the first localized Arabic mobile games.
The roller coaster ride started with our maiden built-in game which was developed for Siemens Middle East with launch of their M55 mobile game.
We worked on contract on a development job with potential market positioning and quick small financial gain.
A school friend who was in charge of the operation approached us with this project, asking to build a Middle East version of Backgammon called ‘Mahbousa’.
Java-operated Devices were shaping up as a popular OS, The N55 at the time was a high end phone and one of the first colour phones by Siemens . We were still learning J2me, the language used for developing games for mobile Java devices, so we were looking for help, and our search efforts extended to India and Eastern Europe.
Indian developers replied faster, and were easier to communicate with, therefore, we went through this first learning curve channel at the same time, the team continued to search at Eastern Europe till we found ourselves a good team in Kiev which operated with us until we managed to get more feathers to fly around 2006.
The operation kicked off while I was starting my life in France; I quit my Job with a French Mobile Middleware software company, where I was their sales person in the Middle East. There I secured good Project deals, and got decent commissions that sparked the initiation fund of Maysalward.
After Siemens, we were challenged by one of the local operators in Jordan to build a fully localized card game called ‘Trix'. This was where we got our big break as a mobile game studio building our own IPs, and boosted us in the world of mobile Game Development with full power. The Game became the first Arabic Mobile Game in the Middle East Market.
Despite The crusty Revenue share model operators were offering, and the lack of interaction with end users as mobile game developers were operating behind the brick walls of the telcos controlling the full ecosystem; We managed to excel and launch more localized games for the region. The operator controls of the distribution channels handicapped us to show up our creative capabilities.
Just like Trix Game the other localized games we developed for the region, Taraneeb, Balote and the board game, Carrom, Maysalward started to take the vision into an actionable mission and to be a recognized Mobile Game Studio.
The business side was keeping us busy, but not as much as setting up the company’s DNA. I was more concerned about this part for the long term vision. I Had a lot and still few utopian work principles I wanted to implement. I wanted to create a Family working and comfortable environment, place I knew that I'll spend most of my time at, therefore, wanted to have a distributive unique operation.
I will take you on a journey down memory lane, and share with you some of the other experiences.
I will share with you recommendations, tips, and tricks to ease your own ride, and whenever the logic doesn't work, just raise your hands and scream as in any roller coaster.
I want my readers to know that the brands or business I mention are for pure history and reference possess, and not for advertisement or recommendation.
Starting Up In The Middle East
Lot of my friends and colleagues wonder why I decided to start my journey in the Middle East based in Jordan, as I had the chance to kick off in Europe, get an easier start-up, and basically avoid lots of hurdles that you can find common in developing countries like Jordan.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to have a comfortable place to spend my upcoming time. I am also from the region, and I gained my early business experience in this part of the world. So, logically, it is a place where I can understand people and they understand me.
Also, I wanted to be part of a change that I have dreamt about since I was in the University while in the Students’ Council.
In addition, I'm an emotionally driven person, and I knew that I will run my business in this way; therefore, I needed to have more emotionally-oriented people, and the Middle Eastern people are generally that kind of people I seek. There are negatives, but also higher positive returns that I will mention when the ride loops us.
Startup Traveling mindset
You are not on vacation nor established business, and so you definitely need to travel in order to learn; attend conferences, and search for new business opportunities.
You cannot build your connections, and pin yourself on the worldwide business map by booking first class, taking airport taxis, and enjoying a seaside views. I was a low cost business traveler, but now, with 14 years of operation, I am now a moderate traveler.
The Hostels approach : if a hotel in your destination is expensive or the period you are booking is around conferences and not showing cheap hotels don't hesitate to book yourself a room in a hostel and pay $20 a night and meet people who might be visiting for the same purpose. Or these days Book yourself a room with airbnb which I still of course champ.
In San Francisco or Seattle I managed to stay in the heart of the city in good Hostels paying $20-30 while the cheapest room in the area was $100-150. A good hostel is where you find clean sheets and showers and you feel safe.
And if you are a girl, don't worry as lot of hostels offers female only dormitory.
Life today is easier than 14 years ago, but it depends on your luck and chances of finding a good place to stay. Now, rating systems and user feedbacks can give you very accurate reviews of the places and lot of online hotel booking sites compete to offer wide range of budget options.
As time goes on, you will learn how to get affordable hotels, and what apps you can use. My favorites today are booking.com and Expedia.com.
Your flights Tickets: don't mind a few hours in airports with your laptop to reply and finish pending work, book, or just take a long naps if you are going to save 40-50% of your ticket price. Upgrade yourself, and get a priority pass (is the world's largest independent airport lounge access program.) for 200 $ until your frequent flyer points accumulate and your gain access cards start allowing you free lounge access.
A Picture Can Speak Thousands Of Words
Part of the Jordanian Business Delegation with His Majesty King Abdullah II to Washington DC from January 17th – 19th, 2012
Presenting the "Warrior Competition" Mobile Game Demo to His Majesty King Abuallah II & Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah 2014
Commencement Speech at the King's Academy 2016 in the Presence of Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II
With Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah in several occasion talking about the Mobile Game Industry Development in Jordan.
At Maysalward office With Jeff Bezos the Founder of Amazon during his visit to Jordan
The French Ambassador to Jordan David Bertolotti visiting Maysalward and Playing one of our Virtual Reality Games- 2016
Part of the Open Forum: The Innovation Imperative at the World Economic Forum 2017
With Misha Lyalin; CEO of Zeptolab the creators of Cut The Rope during his visit to Jordan to Sign a partnership agreement with Maysalward.
Meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Charles during his visit to Jordan 2015
Jordanian Video Games Companies getting support from King Abdullah II Fund For Development (KAFD) to form the Jordan Gaming Task Force 2011 and to Kickoff Capacity Building activities in Jordan.
The Innovation Imperative
Open Forum in Amman to Address Role of Entrepreneurship World Economic Forum 2017
Commencement Speech at King's Academy Jordan 2016
Interview with Volt News during the World Economic Forum Jordan Dead Sea 2017
Interview with at Gamesbeat with EZebis USA 2013
At The New Think Theatre talking about "TRUST" Jordan 2013
Talking about Modern Tools for Teaching at TEDx Amman Teaching Edition 2012
TEDxAmman: How can a video Game help in Building a better City?