Startup Spotlight: AR Engineering Is Optimizing Digital Learning To Help Students Be More Job-Ready Through its subscription-based augmented reality learning app, AR Academy, the firm offers access to a catalog of three-dimensional engineering systems, it enables students to interact with and operate these systems from remote locations.
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This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
For many fresh engineering graduates, applying the innumerable theories and concepts learnt in a university classroom to a real-life work setting can be a jarring experience. When Akram Amir, founder of UAE-based software development company AR Engineering, faced a similar plight, it led him towards an entrepreneurial opportunity. "In 2019, while I was completing my master's, it dawned upon me that I had spent years in academia; yet, I had little firsthand experience with the many complex engineering systems that I had to study," he says. "I started AR Engineering to help change that."
Starting out with capital of less than US$3,000, AR Engineering was thus launched with an aim to optimize digital learning to create a more job-ready generation of students. "AR Engineering was founded on an initial idea that students and trainees were unable to access the material and the systems they are studying -such as jet engines, for example- and we wanted to make that more accessible," explains Yasir Al-Hilali, the startup's co-founder. "From there, we have become regional thought leaders in applying extended reality (XR) solutions for enterprises and educational organizations to help bring the younger generations into the workforce by providing them with the tools they enjoy using."
AR Engineering has gone on to bring this concept to fruition through AR Academy, its subscription-based augmented reality (AR) learning app. Offering access to a catalog of three-dimensional engineering systems, it enables students to interact with and operate these systems from remote locations. "Our educational platform, AR Academy, provides educators and students with the tools to interact with digital twin models of engineering systems that match their current learning courses material," Amir explains. "We also have a unique method of scaling this to thousands of users within the educational institutions."
Source: AR Engineering
But students and graduates are not the only ones who require hands-on training when it comes to complex engineering systems. Across the spectrum of engineering, from agriculture to aerospace, there remains a need for both existing and established engineers to keep up with the latest industry solutions. To target that, AR Engineering also offers similar training services for enterprises by offering them the AR tools required to build and test new engineering systems. "For the enterprise sector, our product development quality and speed are the main differentiating factors, in addition to the intellectual property and trade secrets," Amir says. "All of that combined resulted in making reputable multibillion-dollar enterprises adopt and trust our products and services."
As a platform- and technology-agnostic firm, both Amir and Al-Hilali draw confidence from the impressive range of experiences that the AR Engineering team possesses, as well as the startup's ability to both keep up with and foster innovation. But for a company that operates in the digital realm, AR Engineering found much of its initial success through an age-old marketing tactic. "We acquired our first customer by word-of-mouth," Al-Hilali says "This proved to be beneficial to our growth and to getting our talent out. We have since participated and won competitions with local and global entities like Hub71, Thales, DHL, and more recently with UPS and DP World. We have also built more partnerships by word-of-mouth with entities such as Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), among others."
Having thus steadily crept its way up the ladder of success, AR Engineering has today managed to achieve a formidable 500% year-on-year growth. "All this is due to the growing demand from our enterprise partners," Amir adds. Having operated as a bootstrapped venture till date, AR Engineering has been able to expand its product portfolio during its early stages primarily through grants and competition prizes. "Now, towards the end of the year, we also aim to have a more consistent revenue stream, from a couple of universities and colleges, for AR Academy," Amir says. "We might consider raising funds from venture capitalists or investors along the way as well."
Source: AR Engineering
These next steps for the business are particularly achievable owing to the fact that the startup is located in Dubai, says Al-Hilali. "Dubai is a central hub for the region where entities' clients look for a solutions provider that is regional and can understand their issues," he says. "I believe that being in Dubai has allowed us to gain market traction faster and ease of access to the region and the world." One of the many opportunities provided by the city presented itself in the form of the MBRIF's accelerator program. "MBRIF provided us with knowledge, insights, and advice that startups need to know, especially in our region," Amir says. "What made us choose MBRIF is its reputation and its great team combination, in addition to the feedback we got from startups that got support from MBRIF previously."
So, what's next for AR Engineering? "One of the main goals in the short term is continuing our collaboration with our current partners and clients, especially since we are noticing positive traction in that domain with returning customers," says Amir. "This validates the need for our products and services for everyone. As a result of achieving our main goal, we are now expecting additional universities and enterprises to adopt our solutions worldwide. We are also planning to scale up our team skillsets to accommodate the increasing demand from our region."