Nadeem Bakhsh of Riyadh and the company he founded – UXBERT – are quickly on their way to being one of the best known digital companies in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. UXBERT is the only innovation lab in Saudi Arabia – and in the region – focusing on on scientifically proven e-commerce and digital product research, training, consulting, design and development. In three short years, they already have offices in Riyadh, Dubai and London.
Speaking to Arabia Now, Nadeem said, “As cliché as it sounds, I have a strong belief that technology can be used to make the world a better place, solving the most pressing problems of society today.” His company is certainly on the way to achieving those goals, as it’s equipped with state of the art technologies like eye tracking research devices and industry leading usability research software to bring the Saudi e-commerce and online market and entrepreneurs a facility where they can focus on user research, evaluation and user testing of all their web and mobile applications and services across various devices and browsers.
After completing a degree in Bioinformatics and a Masters in Electronic Technologies for Businesses from England, Nadeem ended up in Dubai leading the experience design team behind one of the largest startups in the MENA region. While he was there, they went from 20,000 monthly page views to a billion per year. The sheer engineering, marketing and design required for such a feat was something the region hadn’t seen before, and in his role coordinating between business, users, design and engineering teams, Nadeem got the learning experience of a lifetime.
But it was really his brother back in Saudi Arabia that kept insisting Nadeem come home to work on building a ‘cool’ and heavily needed digital product for the community – an app focused on entertainment and sport activities in the Kingdom. It was out of this scenario that UXBERT Labs was born.
During his interview with Arabia Now from Riyadh, Nadeem who says he speaks “human, but thinks in code,” explained, “The way I saw it was that I had a unique technology product management skill set that could be leveraged to build a one of a kind consultancy offering premium digital transformation services to corporates in Saudi Arabia. In turn, the revenue generated from the consultancy could be funneled back into building digital community products such as the app my brother wanted.”
That formula has certainly been successful. The company continues to invest every penny they make from corporate consulting back in to their products, and in 3 years they have managed to launch 6 products while also running free monthly workshops in technology innovation focused around design thinking. The group currently has over 2,500 professionals and continues to grow from strength to strength.
During his interview with Arabia Now, Nadeem said, “I’ve always believed the entrepreneurial spirit is widespread among my generation in Saudi, but it wasn’t until we started UXBERT Labs that the extent of that passion really became evident. While moral support from your peers isn’t something most people think about as an influential factor for launching a business, it definitely played a significant role in helping drive myself and the team forward. People were, and continue to be, incredibly supportive of our vision of building a Saudi brand that is world class.”
His team went about building their thriving business with a laser like precision. Speaking about the start up phase to Arabia Now, Nadeem explained, “I knew that by building a dedicated Usability lab and also developing a team of researchers who call Saudi Arabia home, we’d have a unique advantage in being to carry out effective research in a way no one else would.”
Nadeem and his team saw a niche for this business in Saudi Arabia as, “There was no one doing it already, and with the move towards digital transformation across the board in the Kingdom, offering UX consultancy services from a local Saudi establishment was a no-brainer.” Before UXBERT started, any business in Saudi Arabia that wanted to adopt a User-Centred Design approach to their digital efforts had to rely on bringing in researchers from abroad who didn’t necessarily have the best contextual understanding of local users. But with the enterperurial spirit now thriving across the Kingdom, those goals are now being achieved. The company also now provides entreprenuers with start up capital, resources and business expertise to get their start ups off the ground.
In the past five years there has been tremendous growth in the digital space across there region and around the world, and sustainable growth and development requires a great deal of ongoing investment and leadership from both government and business leaders in a wide range of areas. One area which Nadeem sees as key to this long term growth is, “Educating the next generation of Saudi designers and developers in usability principles and design thinking processes”
Focused firmly on raising capital and expanding on their team in Saudi Arabia, UXBERT is looking to double their team and open innovation factories in four strategic locations across the globe. While they focus their goal on that achievement, for now they are more focused on attracting Tesla founder, Elon Musk’s attention. With a great sense of humor, Nadeem told Arabia Now, “We have a plan to be on Mars by 2030. To this endeavor we occasionally tease Elon Musk on Twitter. He hasn’t noticed yet. We live to try again.”