In 2013, Bader Al Essa had an interesting idea. He wanted to create a network for university students and teachers across the board that could serve as a tool to Connect, Communicate and Collaborate. Fast forward to 2016, Bader is now the Founder and CEO of myU, an award-winning school communication and announcement app.
myU is quickly becoming a staple for university students and teachers looking to create avenues for sharing relevant academic information in real-time. “We started off with the intention of creating a platform that used the combined force of mobile communications, social networks and internet. myU does just that! It is quick, with a user inter phase that resembles a social network and can be accessed anywhere through your phone,” said Bader when we asked him to describe his venture to us.
In today’s day and age when the world is constantly trying to move towards paperless communication, Bader feels universities are still attached to traditional methods for communication. As a student, Bader felt his university lacked a system wherein information flow was effortless both for students and teachers; this communication gap is where he got his inspiration for myU from. The app ensures that students no longer have to miss important announcements and can get in touch with their classmates and teachers all on one very simple network. The myU app, although less formal has so far proven to be more efficient system.
Students and teachers can use the myU app without having to exchange any personal information; all you need is a university email address to sign up. The network then uses the available database to verify new users. “While the app resembles a social network platform, it is actually very private. Users can choose who to interact with and who gets to see what information. We understood that safeguarding user information and privacy had to be at the core of all our technology development,” said Bader.
“In our pilot phase we tested the technology with just three universities, today we have over 39,000 users, across Kuwait, Bahrain and KSA,” answered Bader when we asked him about the success of the app. The myU app has so far seen two versions, in the third version, Bader hopes they will be able to extend their services to schools and kids’ parents as well, especially kids who are not old enough to access mobile phones. This he thinks will enable parents to get relevant information without the hassle of remembering roll numbers or extra passwords.
Having graduated with a degree in Environmental Engineering, Bader’s true passion lies in education. He loves the idea of creating services that can enhance the educational experience. “My engineering degree has helped me greatly in creating this app. It needs an engineering brain to envision information flow and systems, and my passion for education adds fuel to the mix.”
Having now worked on myU for three years, Bader says he has in the process really learned to listen. In his opinion understanding technology is only part of the job, understanding how people interact with technology is crucial to developing a successful communication platform. “We believe users are the steering wheel of our company,” said Bader when asked how they decide on what kind of updates are required with every version. At his company user feedback is taken very seriously, especially concerning usability and safety. In fact myU appoints student ambassadors at every university who can both encourage more and more people to use the app, and be available in case issues need to be resolved immediately.
The myU app is free of cost and can be downloaded from the Google play or app store, however if universities choose to, they can extend services by subscribing for additional services, eventually being able to make myU their official mode for information exchange. Services like push notifications, email notifications, database information etc. can then be available to the management to better manage information exchange.
It is Bader’s vision to see myU usage go up to 50 million users in the next 10 years with major expansion plans for the region especially KSA. An admirer of Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba, Bader wants to create something that is universal in its appeal, easy to access and simple to use.
An avid lover of sports, Bader also runs the Project 5 miles initiative, which is a group of like-minded youth who enjoy the outdoors and exercise. Through this project Bader hopes to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles.