WonderTree, a startup incubated at P@SHA’s Tech Incubator The Nest I/O, has won the Third Prize at the GIST TECH-I Startup Competition held at Stanford University. WonderTree pitched in the startup category of the annual competition and was one of the 15 applicants selected out of the 1074 teams from around the world that submitted their applications earlier this year. GIST (Global Innovation through Science & Technology) is an annual competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies worldwide and was part of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2016).
WonderTree develops interactive, augmented reality-based games for children with special needs using Microsoft Kinect technology, with a focus on home based physical therapy, biofeedback and tracking. The team has renowned psychologists and special teachers on board and has also partnered with several institutions such as IPP (institute for Personal Psychology), DOW University of Health Sciences, Special Olympics Pakistan and the KVTC (Karachi Vocational and Training Center). WonderTree previously participated in the P@SHA ICT Awards 2015 and represented Pakistan at APICTA 2015, and was also a recipient of the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund.
Muhammad Waqas, the CEO and co-Founder of WonderTree, who pitched the startup at the competition, said that meeting investors, networking with industry experts and getting one-on-one mentoring at GES 2016 has been a phenomenal experience. “The entire journey has been an invaluable learning opportunity for us. Winning today validates what my co-founders and I have been working on for the past year and a half and proves that our games can revolutionize the learning curriculum for children with special needs around the globe.”
Muhammad Usman, co-founder of WonderTree talked about their motivation behind developing these games and said, “The area in which we work is critical and requires more attention from a wider portion of society. We are taking ideas of improving education for special children a step further and trying to turn imagination into reality with the help of technology.” Co-founder Ahmed Hassan reiterated how the journey has been anything but easy and it was the “support of mentors as well as family and friends that kept them going.”
Jehan Ara, President of P@SHA and The Nest i/o where the WonderTree team was incubated, said “It was a moment of immense pride when WonderTree was declared a winner in the GIST TECH-I competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. I have watched this team work hard for a social cause that they are strongly committed to – and to see their passion and hard work recognized at a global event in Silicon Valley, means so much. Muhammad Waqas, CEO and Co-Founder worked day and night on his pitch and held his own against some tough questions from a panel of 10 expert judges. Well done Waqas. Well done WonderTree!”
The competition was part of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2016), an event that showcased entrepreneurship and innovation globally and featured talks and panel discussions by the likes of President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sergey Brin and Sundar Pichai of Google, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Travis Kalanick of Uber, and many more. Jehan Ara, the President of P@SHA, was also invited to speak on a panel on investment opportunities in South Asia.
The Nest i/o, where the team has been incubated for the past couple of months, is a technology incubator and community hub launched by the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) with global partners Google for Entrepreneurs and Samsung, and through a supporting grant from the US State Department. The Nest i/o provides budding entrepreneurs with space, infrastructure, facilities and knowledge sessions as well as access to a network of mentors and potential investors. The Nest i/o’s mission is to blaze the trail for the next generation of entrepreneurs in Pakistan.