Qatari startup launches AI-driven cooking robot 'Oliver' in Canada

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Lani Rose R Dizon/ The Peninsula

After eight years of hard work, even the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped Qatari entrepreneur Khalid Aboujassoum and his team from launching Oliver, an AI-driven cooking robot which had just been introduced in the Canadian market in September.  

Aboujassoum, a well-known figure in Qatar's startup ecosystem, is also the Founder and Chairman of ibTECHar Digital Solutions, which he established in 2011 and was the first company to be incubated in the Ministry of transport and Communications' (MoTC) Digital Incubation Center (DIC). After being the first Qatari to be crowned as the winner in the history of Stars of Science's regional competition in 2012, Aboujassoum went on to start Else Labs, his second startup which focused on building a smart cooking platform based on a novel electromechanical design combined with software and data. 

'After eight years of hard work, we are very excited and it's amazing that we have launched. Combining technology into a product design that is user friendly, affordable, and familiar was a huge quest. And the journey was worth it. Today, Oliver is available for pre-orders in the US, Canada, and Qatar, said Aboujassoum.

Aboujassoum was speaking as the featured guest at the Startup Grind's online session in Doha recently. Oliver, a smart cooking robot, acts as a recipe library, meal planner, and expert chef all in one. The kitchen product features an app where users can choose recipes from and get start-to-finish directions. And in one tap in the app, users can leave the kitchen and simply go about their other tasks for the day. The whole time, the cooking robot manages the entire cooking process and notifies the user when the meal is ready. 

Talking all the way from Canada during the vent, Aboujassoum narrated his entrepreneurial journey and how his latest innovation had started. Just like many other businesses, his idea of a cooking robot started out of his dilemma with cooking meals. 'It all started out of necessity, which is the mother of invention. I grew up in a household that never owned microwaves. When I left my home country, Qatar, to study college in Canada back in the day, I really struggled with cooking. I lived for a while by blender by making smoothies and cooking eggs on a pan. And then the idea for Oliver was born, added Aboujassoum. However, Aboujassoum had put aside his idea for a while, and focused on his studies instead. Eventually, he came back to Qatar and started a career in the oil and gas industry. But the cooking robot idea remained. Aboujassoum then went on to join the Stars of Science competition where he first presented the concept for Oliver. 

Today, Else employs 14 full-time employees, and has presence in Qatar, Canada, and the United States. To date, Aboujassoum has raised over $4m in financing for the venture, and has done business in Qatar, Canada, the United States, and China. His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, ‘keep your sanity in check and surround yourself with smart people and advisers whom you are comfortable to be vulnerable with, who will ask the right questions and help you focus on your goals regardless of what's going on'. A mission-driven innovator and in search of improving his business concept, Aboujassoum also stayed in the Silicon Valley for some time, where he grew his knowledge and skill set, as well as established his network with experts in the field.

'Today, it is my personal mission to share the knowledge and be part of the startup community, especially in Qatar. For entrepreneurs doing the fund raising, it's about building your credibility. And you really need clarity around your vision. We need to help in building the ecosystem, and it takes all of us to build it, he added. 

Aboujassoum, who was awarded the entrepreneur of the year prize in 2011, reiterated the importance of having mentors in the industry. He also highlighted his partnerships with the Qatar Development Bank, Qatar Science and Technology Park, DIC, and Qatar Business Incubation Center during the event.  



The Peninsula

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