Every week, the Soukie Speaks’ Club Courage series celebrates a brave entrepreneur in the Arab startup ecosystem, by sharing their story and the impact that their startup is having on the community. This week we interviewed Khalid Al Nasser, founder and CEO of Practech.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your educational experience and how you got into tech and entrepreneurship.
My educational background is in medicine. I graduated from King Saud University College of medicine and I was fascinated with the possibilities of automation in such a rapid and versatile work environment. With that mind, I decided that I really wanted to have an impact on the system and no just work in it. I grew up reading tech blogs and everything technology-related and the idea that I could do so much with so little and still create robust solutions that could influence our lives and have a clear impact on people opened up a world of possibilities for me. That’s when I decided that I wanted to become a part of that productive landscape. Considering that tech is an ever expanding and diverse industry, I decided to apply for some patents to ensure that I was contributing to the ecosystem and not just saturating it. That resulted in receiving multiple claims in relation to smartwatches and various functions, such as handshake information exchange, security protocols and barcode scanning. From there I felt like I had no excuse. I knew it was a risk, but I was willing to take it to have an impact, because, ultimately, I would rather regret doing something than not doing it all.
2. What unique features does the Practech smart watch offer customers?
Practech (Practical Technology) is a company that is committed to developing and launching new solutions for existing needs and not the other way around. We aim to achieve that by developing new wearable and IoT solutions for enterprise to increase the level of automation, efficiency and real time analytics in those industries. Our current vertical is healthcare, and more specifically, wearable scanners for nurses. Not only will nurses be able to receive real time physician order notifications on their Prachtechwatch, they will
also be able to follow the notification instructions on what medication and patient tag to scan and it will also verify if it is safe to administer the medication and confirm that the administration is for the correct patient. All processes and treatment administration will be automatically reported for each user wearing the device and will detail the duration, time of administration, the type of drug and patient receipt. Ultimately, we believe that healthcare should be admitted into the 21st century and receive its proper dose of automation.
3. Where do you plan to launch your smart watch and who is your intended target market?
We plan to launch in the US, because that they have the proper IT infrastructure and health information systems in place. We will be specifically targeting tertiary care facilities, as we are looking to deliver the device to in-patient nurses initially. However, we are eventually looking to expand it to physicians and outpatient.
4. Why should a customer buy a Practech smart watch when they could buy a similar product from Apple or Samsung?
Apple and Samsung are not selling wearable scanners to enterprise. Both those companies have more of a consumer focus, especially when it comes to wearables.
5. According to your website, the Practech smart watch can help customers track their shopping, fitness, health, professional and dining routines, but how would the watch work in a situation where there are no bar codes or QR codes?
We do have NFC (Near Field Communication) to communicate with RFID (Radio-frequency identification) and NFC tags should that be the case. However, our focus has shifted and we are currently working on changing our website to reflect our new focus, which is enterprise. In that regard, healthcare is perfect for us when you consider the constant availability of barcodes/QR and other similar communication tags.
6. Practech was recently incubated in the HubX-Life Sciences accelerator in Little Rock, Arkansas, which demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. startup ecosystem to health innovation. Do you feel that the MENA ecosystem is supporting the growth of your segment? If so, how? If not, how do you wish things were different?
The MENA region is definitely supportive and is constantly working on advancing healthcare. In Saudi Arabia for instance, hospitals are currently shifting to a standardized paperless-based system to include new innovations in the sector and using that new infrastructure for further advancement. We are currently working in the US and aligning our technology with systems in the region, so we can eventually come back to the MENA once the healthcare system has matured a little more and has the supporting infrastructure ready.
7. Do you think that Arab consumers are interested in health tech and innovation?
With the rise in diabetes, and other health-related issues, the awareness for the need for better healthcare systems and lifestyles is increasing in the MENA region. Nowadays, consumers are more self-aware and they have a better understanding of their health and how it relates to the rest of the globe. Simply raising more awareness for the need of early prevention and the importance of healthy habits will inevitably influence more and more consumers and self-quantifiers to obtain a better lens into their wellbeing through new health tech innovations.
8. As a young Saudi entrepreneur, what is your advice to other young Arab entrepreneurs who want to enter the health innovation sector?
- Study the market, it’s a very big industry.
- CHECK FDA REQUIRMENTS!
- Include domain experts, as a lot of oversights can occur when developing products in this field.
- Validate and speak to end-users.
- Focus on automation and not therapeutic or diagnostic devices. Clinical trials and competition can be brutal if that is your focus.
- Ride or die. You need a team that you can count on, as it’s going to be a bumpy road.
- Focus on quantifiers (Saves you X in Y Costs. Price is Z) and back it up with as much data as possible.
I could go on, but these are the most crucial lessons that I’ve learned through my experience with Practech and we are definitely better for it.
9. How can people learn more about you and your upcoming project(s)?
You can check us out on:
We are very committed to development, so make sure to follow us and look forward to receiving very exciting updates from us very soon.
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