Egyptian technology startups stand on the shoulders of giants

For a young Youssri Helmy, it was a Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) 80 that first piqued his curiosity in technology. For Wael Amin, it was the Commodore 64 that he received when he was four years old. Indeed, Youssri and Wael developed a passion for using technology to solve some of the world’s toughest problems, and put that passion to work by founding an Egyptian technology company called ITWORX, a firm that would grow to employ more than 800 people with eight offices worldwide.

For Youssef Aly, it was an MSX computer he programmed to show his brother he was the dumbest guy in the world and that Youssef was the smartest. For one of his co-founders, Hamdy Khalil, it was his Atari 2200. They founded eSpace as one of the MENA region’s original “hacker firms.”

As a young PhD student at MIT, Dr. Khaled Ismail was motivated by the engineering challenge of designing the smallest devices possible. This drive led him to create Egypt’s first chip design firm, SySDSoft.

To the concern the parents of 16-year-old Waleed Khalil — the founder of several electronics firms — it was his interest in electricity and the products that use it that launched his journey to develop Olkya, the first electronic products company in Egypt.

A young Alaa Agamawi got his start working for his family business in 1979, which re-sold western computers into Egypt. There, his desire grew to develop Arabic software that could reach the masses in the Middle East and to build an Egyptian technology industry that global markets would notice.

With technology and curious…

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