A year is not enough to feature all the amazing entrepreneurs who are breaking grounds in the Arab scene. So to help awaken the entrepreneurial spirit in you, here we are with yet another entrepreneur of the month ready to inspire and change the world.
For this month, we had a talk with Tarek Yehia and Ahmed Mahfouz, the founders of Ta2heal.
Ta2heal is a company that utilizes the power of technology to support children with special needs. This is done by creating digital tools that will guide the parents as they mould their children’s hearts and minds. For them and their company, it’s not about the number of times subscriptions were paid, but the number of families they have helped through their services. These very people are the force that drive Ta2heal in their continuous mission to develop an ever-changing, ever-adaptable ecosystem of digital and on-ground services designed to hold their clients’ hands as they brave through the challenges of parenting children with special needs.
What was the inspiration for Ta2heal?
A few years back, I had an experience with a child with special needs and gloomily told me the hardships parents encounter seeking help for their children. At that time, the idea of creating a company that would be a one-stop-shop for all the parents’ needs -using technology- began to take shape. Ta2heal was born as an idea then.
What problem are you solving?
In Egypt alone there are at least 50,000 new born children every year with Autism which face along with their families a number of problems that include but are not limited to:
Finding care and treatment is extremely difficult and families usually experience fraud a number of times till they find an adequate facility or doctor/specialist
Training in dedicated facilities (Learning Difficulty Centres) is expensive, one child would cost at least 60,000 EGP annually just to learn and practice basic skills
Parents live in social isolation as a huge number of them prefer that other people don’t know about their case
Parents find it difficult to find structured information on how to enhance their child’s abilities or handle daily situations
Due to these difficulties, parents usually mishandle their child’s training and education changing a fixable situation to a life-long obstacle. Nearly all parents we communicated with ultimately want their children to be able care for themselves after they are gone
How does it work?
Targeting to create an ecosystem of services rather than just an app; a combination of technology services and on-ground activities Ta2heal has been developing a number of areas:
Our web app “Le3b” was created to give children a customizable training/educational tool that adapts and grows to their needs while being fun. Children use our video-modelling based techniques to learn Self-help, Social skills, Verbal and non-verbal communication, Facial/body expression recognition in daily situations and a lot more.
For parents’ education and training “Tamareen” uses real-life videos of doctor and child training sessions to show parents how at-home training is achieved. This training is structured based on an established curriculum that uses individualized education plans and supports follow-ups and activity monitoring and so much more.
In sensitive situations like this parents usually – and rightfully – require the help of real life doctors and specialists in the areas their children require, understanding that Ta2heal is also building a network of specialists in the field of learning difficulties making finding the help a parent needs a painless process, just get in touch with ta2heal.
Coming soon – Our mobile app “Efham Teflak” targets the discovery phase, using a number of questions the mobile app that will screen the child for learning difficulties -initially Autism- and respond with a risk factor – the higher the risk factor the more probable the child has Autism. From here the parent is given steps to follow, where to go and what to do based on their location and our directory of doctors and specialists. Also, the parent is encouraged here to subscribe to our services.
Coming soon – “Tamareen for organizations” (SaaS), now any organization can store their own content, assessments, child records, interaction logs and monetize by selling their own users subscriptions.
What is your target market?
Children: users of “Le3b” web app are usually between 3 and 10 years old that suffer from Autism primarily although “Le3b” also supports other special needs like ADHD and Down Syndrome, our main audience for this app exists in Egypt with plans to expand further.
Parents: users of “Tamareen” webapp and “Efham Teflak” mobile app are parents of children with special needs and belong to middle class and upwards. Their age varies from mid-twenties to early forties. “Tamareen” targets parents in Egypt and GCC.
Doctors/clinics/LDCs: our enterprise customers in Egypt and GCC are mostly mid-range care centres that use/look to use technologies to increase their revenue or streamline operations.Ta2heal targets to expand internationally after releasing our planned “Tamareen for organizations” app.
Specialists: providers of our on-ground services, featured in our mobile app “Efham Teflak”. On-ground operations are currently only available in Egypt.
What differentiates you from other competitors in the region?
In short, Ta2heal is the first and only Arabic ecosystem for children with special needs. Although there are a few apps here and there on mobile or web based, nothing available is integrated or designed for scaling and covers the breadth of services that Ta2heal does to satisfy the needs of parents and organizations.
How much time did it take you from conceptualization of ‘your venture’ to actually launching it in the market?
Longer than it should. At the time when Ta2heal was just an idea there was no start-up ecosystem comparable to the state of support start-ups get today. With no knowledge on where to even start, what is a business plan, how to get funding, how growth happens and so many obstacles seemed just insurmountable at the time.
Ta2heal started moving forward into existence only when we won a one-year incubation at TIEC which not only financed our early stages but also offered us the education that we desperately needed to become entrepreneurs capable of creating, breaking and adapting.
Are there any obstacles that are impacting Ta2heal?
Of course there are, probably as with any tech based startup challenges arise due to the fact that Egypt isn’t quite technology enabled -the use of the internet has increased dramatically lately but still dependence on it hasn’t really evolved. Take for instance credit card payment, most Egyptian people do not prefer paying using such a method online although the option has been there for a long time.
Another difficult area is funding, most of what Ta2heal requires is time pushing the market to evolve and use tech for their needs, funding is crucial here.
There are a lot more obstacles facing Ta2heal which reflect on our sales and long term sustainability but that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. A person that faces obstacles and overcomes them.
What role has social media played in growing your business?
Social media is one of the most important marketing tools and most of our customers are converted from Ads in social media. Not to mention its power for spreading awareness and righting the wrong parenting concepts.
What sort of support and feedback are you looking for from the community?
It is our organization’s belief that the more feedback we get the more we advance and hence we appreciate any feedback we get from either the special needs community or the startup community.
What advice would you give to new start-ups in the region?
Listen. Truly this is the most important advice I would give. There are competitors – direct or not – that have taken choices that speak volumes. Listen to your stakeholders; they might not know what they want or need but if you listen you’ll change how or what you’re doing. Listen to your team, a small mentioned idea could change the course of your organization. Listen to your fellow entrepreneurs, some experience can be extrapolated.
With such a selfless vision, it’s not surprising that Ta2heal and its team of Technology and Child Psychology professionals are aiming to lend a hand not just to the Egyptian market but the Arab world as well.
As you can see, every candidate we feature in our Entrepreneur of the month is not just a businessman or woman who has successfully navigated the world of commerce, but more importantly, someone who sees business as an opportunity to make the world a better place. So to Mr. Tarek Yehia and the rest of the people behind Ta2heal, we are privileged to showcase your advocacy through our website and may it grow to reach more and help more.
Do you have a question for Tarek and Ahmed? Just leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @Ta2heal .