Category: Interviews

A-Z Logostics – Interview with Yusr Sabra Co-founder of Wakilni

Yusr is the co-founder of Wakilni. A doer with a passion for building and empowering productive and happy teams; Yusr established Wakilni – a smart logistics solution focused on e-commerce SMEs – in 2016. Today Wakilni is one of the fastest growing last mile service providers covering all of Lebanon. In 2020, Yusr established the Wakilni E-commerce Hub powered by Antwork which offers e-commerce businesses shelving, storage and fulfillment services in addition to delivery. Yusr was featured by the American University of Beirut as one of the women alumni impacting the world through their work. She is committed to transferring enthusiasm and knowledge and to being the driving force behind creating and delivering services that make people’s lives easier.

Tell us a bit about the story of Wakilni and when did it all start?

In 2015, we had the idea to start a concierge service, basically a service that would allow individuals and home owners to have their errands run such as dropping off laundry, paying bills, watering plants, etc… Soon after we started, we realized that there’s a bigger demand from businesses for courier and delivery like services and that’s when we started focusing on delivery services for E-commerce businesses. Fast forward a few years, towards the end of 2018, we realized that with the large number of ecommerce businesses we are servicing, we have become part of a community to which we can offer beyond delivery services. In 2019, we established the Wakilni e-commerce hub powered by Antwork which offers ecommerce businesses and suppliers of ecommerce businesses, hot-desking, private offices, shelving and storage solutions. We also have a large conference room that can be used for events and workshops.

Can you describe two major productive events for this year?

Between the revolution and covid, events have been pretty shy however we did run two productive one. The first was a legal workshop in partnership with Orurus, the session introduced ecommerce businesses and their founders to what they need to know from a legal perspective about running an ecommerce business.

In January, when startups were facing difficulties with the banks being closed and restrictions to cash and transfers, we held a brain storming session that was attended by a number of business founders who shared the difficulties they were facing and some possible solutions. We look forward to holding additional such events in the near future.

What is your favorite part of being in a co-working space?

The hustle bustle, the energy and the new faces! We love meeting new people and the new ideas they bring to the hub.

What were the challenges that you introduced to adapt workers for this community base culture?

It is still a challenge reminding our team that we are now part of a community and that we share the space with others. Our team can be pretty loud! Of course we hold routine awareness sessions and we post signage on the walls at the hub that acts as a reminder that it’s a shared space. At some point though, it becomes intuitive, and people have adapted.

What advices can you give to a startup moving from a traditional office to coworking space?

Get to know the space well, ask for all the details (opening hours, accessibility, what’s offered, what’s not offered). Co-working spaces means there’s probably much more space and even activities than what you would usually find in a traditional office. Try to find your spots. At the Wakilni hub, most of us have an eating spot, a chilling spot, and a favorite quiet spot to work from.

How do you stay motivated notably in this economic and pandemic phase?

It’s easier to stay motivated when your work is linked to a purpose and when you are surrounded with people who share your purpose. Our community is also our support system. When one of us is having a low day, most likely than not someone will notice and will cheer them up.

What advice can you give to workers not able to balance between personal life and work load time?

I stopped trying to balance personal and work life a long time ago! Running a startup means long hours, no way around it. The Wakilni hub has helped me merge the two so I don’t feel the pressure of always needing to balance my life. My colleagues and team mates are also my friends. We share lunch breaks, coffee breaks (lots of them), we laugh, we play and we hold movie and game nights and we also work and toil together. This might not sound ideal, but I know it works for me and it keeps me sane! 

Check out Wakilni’s Social Media pages Instagram Facebook and their Website

Music & More: Interview With Peter Nehme

Music & More provides all music instruments and accessories for groups, individuals, students, professionals, schools and institutes. Excellent quality, competitive prices, great service. “Peter … Music & More” was established in 2011 in Beirut, Lebanon by Peter Nehme (Co-Owner) to provide integrated and one-stop shop music related services and instruments for all music lovers in the world. Peter Nehme, born in a house where music talks, joined the national conservatoire at the age of 3, and completed his studies in solfege and theory at the age of 5, before he learnt to read the alphabet… Today, Peter Nehme plays on 46 different instruments, created 21 of his own, and written 19 different teaching methods. The company holds a certificate of registration of a registered brand, Peter’s, for all musical instruments manufactured especially for them; features and specifications set by Peter Nehme.

Navigate through the different pages of his website PeterMusic&More, to have a clearer idea of what they do and the products they sell.

A multi talented musician, teacher, instruments manufacturer, and nature photographer, how do you manage to balance between all of them?

From playing music to instruments manufacturing, to lecturing and photography, I’ve refined my given talents with knowledge.
I’ve further learned to manage my time the way a conductor leads an orchestra by studying the scores of different types of instruments and making the perfect adjustments to convey a unified vision of the music out to the audience; therefore considering my experience, time management and rhythm that is key for balance in every life aspect.

What are the main benefits of learning music in early childhood?

Learning music in early childhood ignites all areas of child development and skills including intellectual, social-emotional, and awareness.
Music improves motor skills and coordination, focus and memory and helps children to be disciplined and find their peace of mind and balance in life. It also boosts their self-confidence resulting in projecting a positive energy. However, music accompanies introverts and helps shy people become more open to others.
Furthermore, it gives children with special needs a sense of accomplishment by bridging the gap of communication; it eliminates the barriers of turning their inner feelings into verbal expressions. Music also improves their learning, memory, focus, creativity and imagination. And since it uses the child’s tactile, visual and auditory system providing a whole-body experience, music activates the brain,
therefore making the child analyze his thoughts and emotions which will affect his productivity whether at home or at school.

Playing 46 different musical instruments is a rewarding accomplishment! What’s your favorite instrument?

My love for music, passion for learning and dedication have motivated me to learn any instrument I put my hands on. As for my favorite, can you ask a parent to pick a favorite child? My instruments are my children and I love them all equally, hence I can never answer this question.

What is your philosophy in music education?

It takes me years to describe my philosophy in music but what I can briefly say is that “music is the school of patience”, and one who has patience is able to listen well, learn quickly and thus become a special musician.

What are your top priorities when repairing a rare handmade instrument?

My top priorities when repairing a rare instrument is to keep its sanctity and originality, fixing it without any modifications that make it look repaired. I aim to keep its antiquity so one can still live in its era instead of modernizing it and devaluing it to fit in the era we’re living in.

How did you learn to make music instruments?

It started with transfiguring household utensils and car parts from my father’s garage into musical instruments, then I traveled abroad and majored in musical instruments manufacturing with well-known manufacturers and fabricators.

Do you rely on online purchases and can you ship outside Lebanon?

I don’t rely on online purchases but I take advantage of social media to display my instruments that are all made with utmost love and care, and are not just for trading.
I can consider air freight since it’s the fastest and safest way to deliver the
instruments without risking any damage or possible churn when sea shipping.

Can you tell us about your biggest achievement and award?

The biggest achievement is that manufacturing and high class art last in Lebanon. God has given me remarkable talents that I’m able to convey to a wide range of audience using my voice and knowledge, and this is my biggest award because I believe I’ve been given this gift as a message to share with others through my music.

What is the idea behind Green Concerto?

The concept behind Green Concerto is to return to nature, grounding and
meditating rather than planting and harvesting, nourishing the mind rather than the body. Being a son of nature, Man’s learning to listen and meditate would be a lifechanging achievement. In an open space, unstressed, Man will see things differently. Similarly, Green Concerto transmits a quoted image with a rhythm conveying a state of deep thinking and meditation.

Can you imagine your life without music?

“Music is life. That’s why our hearts have beats”.

Check out Music & More’s Social media pages Instagram and Facebook

The Future of Video Gaming in MENA Region. Interview with Entrepreneur Reine Abbas.

Reine Abbas Entrepreneur Gaming

With more than seventeen years in the gaming industry and fifteen years in higher education, Reine Abbas is one of the first female game designers in the Middle East and the first to be a founder of a video games company. She is the COO and Co-Founder of Wixel Studios, the first independent gaming company in Lebanon and one of the first in the Mena Region. She is also the CEO and founder of Spica Tech, one of the few gaming academies in the region. 

Mrs. Abbas’ work has been recognized around the world and she has won many awards, including the WIT Women in Technology Award 2010, the WOW award for artistic expressions 2013 at the 6th New Arab Woman Forum,‘s World’s five most powerful women in gaming in 2013, one of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in both 2014 and 2015 as selected by, winner of the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region competition 2017 and Mena Region winner in the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards of 2019. In 2019, she also won the Best Animation award at the ARFF Paris International Awards for her music video “Right Now”. She was featured in Forbes 2019 and was a TEDx Beirut speaker in 2011.  

Can you tell us what inspired you when you were young? Did your parents or friends influence your decision to get into games? or were you interested on your own in this so called ‘man’ field?

Since childhood, I was called the freak child who draws on the balcony in summer vacations.
Since the age of 11, I was interested in all kinds of art and liked to go play Atari games.
My two brothers used to go to a ‘flipper’ shop where once I finally was able to sneak-in after cutting my long hair and dressing like a boy.
When I entered this boy zone and saw all big Atari games in the shop, I fell in love with them!
I was grounded many times for my actions but couldn’t help myself because I was very passionate about video gaming and my parents did not used to bring us such games to the house.
Afterwards, it was an easy phase for me as a girl.

I graduated in masters of visual arts and entered the animation world with Warner Brothers for a year to launch a Saudi animation program.
Through my work, someone introduced me to DigiPen (sister company of Nintendo) which was based in Lebanon and was recruiting artists and animators.
I was the only artist at that moment in the department and started to learn development even coding to understand and communicate with a team of 30 developers.
Meanwhile I worked and travelled between Lebanon and the US and soon became head of art department.

When I started with DigiPen, I never realized that we were only two women in the whole company and we were considered minority in this field.
I never understood why they defined a specific category limited to being a woman in the gaming industry.
I even started in 2008 my own company Wixel Studios without knowing the terminology of ‘entrepreneur’ and its meaning.

A major event was in 2010, when I was the only female speaker in the first Arabnet conference held in Lebanon, talking about video games. Twitter traffic and trend was at that day talking about a woman who understood well the gaming industry and was passionate about it.
I was nominated by NGO the female of the year in technology. also chose me between the five females in video games.
I am invited to many panels all over the world covering women in business, women in gaming, and women in technology.

Do you see any trend driving the content of mobile games today?
First of all, casual games were mainly used: story driving games and racing cars.

The so-called trend now is Hyper Casual games. They are fast to do with a low production cost, and publishers are demanding these kind of games which drive users.

What criteria and knowledge base increase the chance of designers and developers to get hired these days?      

The dominance of Indie Game development is a trend with success, where a group of people creates for example a mind craft or color switch game in their house garage without outside source or publisher.

Concerning the recruitment, video gaming is now the biggest industry in the world, where during the pandemic, remote and online work also made it happen without a need for work visa, or to go to an office.
In MENA region, with a lack of education in gaming, there are very few chances.
On my personal level, I am teaching game design and animation in universities and through SpicaTech, creating mini developers to craft their own products and publish their games.

Can you share the percentage of how much work is completed in house versus outsourced?
Definitely, in-house is ideal for confidentiality, secrecy and protection of our production.
However, sometimes we need to outsource depending on the project. We look for sound designers, musicians, artists, especially after COVID-19 pandemic, the work load increased, everyone wanted to do games and go digital.
So we had to recruit more people; but they are working online from home.
Also outsourcing is not a bad idea, major companies adopt this concept, plus it is cost saving.
We, at Wixel studios, do both.

wixel studio reine abbas

Please tell our audience about your superpower mom’s project for your son and how it became ‘Spicatech’?

My son was only 4 when he started to learn how to do games.
I always took him to work with me, and he knows that I produce games.
He used to ask everyone: “Are you playing games? did you try this game?”
But everyone was telling him the same answer: “NO”
It was very frustrating for him ’till one day he asked me to teach him, and his colleagues in school, to do their own games.

It was a really weird question for his age. He told me “because everyone is playing, no one is creating”.
I prepared a 14 Hour Course of game design and pitched it to their teacher who was very excited.
I saw how kids changed automatically their mindset, the logic.
For this reason, I wanted to make it official and start SpikaTech academy to test this idea of shifting kids and teens to game production and becoming digital producers instead of consumers.
I am very proud of what we’re accomplishing in terms of awareness, education, investments received and competitions won so far.

We’re teaching kids entrepreneurship, project management, critical and creative thinking,
problem solving, and we’re using their passion for video games to teach them math, science, reading, writing, things they find really boring at school and difficult to learn.
We have more than 1000 students in only 2 years and we’re opening two new models in Dubai and KSA.
My purpose is to create success stories from the MENA region to the world.

In your opinion, how much technology should be used in classrooms?
Is Lebanon on the right track?
It is not a matter of tools (the smart board, iPad, computer) because everyone is using them.
To me, we should change the way we are teaching kids.
The education system must focus on interactive curriculum, fun and easy to remember.

By using games and apps to teach math, science, history, and geography, the material becomes interesting, and all kids will never forget what they learned.
Also, we give a chance for all kids without exception to finish school.
For example in my academy SpicaTech, we had kids with dyslexia, autism, ADHD hyperactivity disorder, everyone did great in finishing their games just like the other kids.
All kids are passionate for games, it is interactive and fun and everyone can do it though games.

Concerning Lebanon – even all MENA region – is not on the right track because unfortunately, there is no education in gaming industry.
We need both education and hub for companies to open in our region and create million of job opportunities in game design and game development.

Any plan for distance learning during the pandemic as kids activity for video games production?
Even before COVID-19 pandemic, we had already started our online platform and we were ready to teach online gaming production and the know-how, while reaching kids through zoom, teams or our online platform.
It’s going well and we were ready anyway.