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UAE Start-up to Promote Mindfulness

UAE Start-up to Promote Mindfulness

     It is hard to live in an impressive city like Dubai and not feel inspired!

Every journey begins with a moment

The taxing yet exciting process of starting off a start-up is filled with dreams and disappointments. Our experience is no different, the trick was to keep those dreams ahead, and disappointments behind. From the very beginning, we wanted to do something different, something that is related to the current needs of the world. With that in mind, we started our research.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

Considering the current global atmosphere with all the geopolitical tensions, climate change, and pandemic running amok, it might surprise you to know that humanity has never experienced a better overall situation. Despite the constant struggle of a select few countries to provide food for their people, world hunger is at its lowest in history. Slavery is just a bad memory, universal suffrage is recognized globally and many diseases that crippled or killed thousands of people annually have disappeared from the face of the earth.

We have the rapid advance of technology to thank for this huge leap in progress. Everything is better, faster, and more convenient. However, we have also become more self-entitled, impatient, and stressed; humanity is experiencing an all-time high level of depression and various mental disorders. With a closer look, it will become apparent that we are victims of our own success.

          Having a stressful lifestyle is a choice, technology is not to be blamed.

Employ technology to cherish all the blessings around you

Despite the popular belief, technology is not to be blamed here. A tool is just a tool, it cannot be harmful or beneficial by itself; it is the way that we use it which determines its value. Therefore, if we are to make a real change in the way technology is affecting us, we must seek to improve our lifestyles. And that is what our start-up aimed for.

Progress is all fine and good, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the natural flow of life. We are so dead-set on achieving more and more and pushing forward that we often forget to take a moment and cherish what we have already achieved. We forget to pay enough attention to our loved ones, we forget to maintain the balance in our lives.

In Magical Moments, we are fascinated by the idea of combating the adverse effects of technology with technology. It came to our attention that a game development and IT solution company called “Infinite8” is supporting start-ups with novelty ideas. They aim to use the untapped potential of the gulf and MENA to increase the market share of the region in IT and game industries. We pitched our idea to them and they liked it well-enough to fund our project. We set up “Magical Moments”  in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis near our parent company.

An Ambitious Project in An Ambitious Country

 Dubai’s happiness vision is overseen by the Smart Dubai Department.

We live in a country that promotes ambitions and making progress. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum set a noble vision for the city of Dubai a few years back. The goal itself is simple: “Make Dubai the happiest city on Earth”. Appointing Her Excellency Ohoud Al Roumi as the Minister of State for Happiness is a testament that UAE leadership is serious about creating a happier society.                  

Other than the clear humanitarian benefits of such a vision, it should be noted that a happy society is also a productive society. Happiness increases motivation, improves well-being and health, and helps people to be the best version of themselves. Government institutions and organizations have already made a considerable effort toward realizing this worthy vision. But we believe that every citizen should contribute to really achieve a happier society, including us!

A Magical Moment: How Coffee Saved a Dream/Start-up (saved the day)

Our team at Infinite8 is always looking for opportunities to do something unique and innovative, to experiment with new ideas, and create new solutions for age-old problems. For a time, we struggled to find that right idea. Numerous business canvases were presented, discussed, and ultimately shelved. In line with our policy at Infinite8, we didn’t just want to develop another app only to bring back capital and make a profit. We sought to create something that would leave a real impact on its users, we wanted our work to mean something.

This is how you gamify the painful process of throwing away your previous plans.

A Source of Inspiration

We toyed around the idea of developing a platform that would promote a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, we didn’t want to promote a specific formula for happiness as we believed that such a formula if it existed at all, would be different for each person. So, we initiated in-depth research into the science of happiness, using the latest articles and findings of psychology to get the proper inspiration that would lead us toward our holy grail.

Several prototypes were created, some after months of development, but they were put aside at some point for one reason or another. It is never an easy decision to call off something you have worked on for a relatively long time. However, we firmly believe that quality always beats quantity. We learned from our mistakes and moved on.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Fortunately, the CEO was understanding and patient enough to keep funding the project and kept faith in the initial vision. The fact that another one of our company’s products became a hit and managed to secure spectacular funding helped a lot, but that is another story. However, opportunities were passing by and we knew we had to make progress, and soon. Pulling all-nighters became common, deadlines were missed, and the team’s morale was dropping.

Then, during a late afternoon coffee-time in the office, me and a project lead were chit-chatting when the idea hit us. We were both reminiscing about all the ups and downs we faced during this time, and how we managed to overcome challenges at every turn to get where we are right now. He then asked me if I knew it has been exactly 1000 days since I had joined the team.

Serious about Having Fun

I remember a feeling of pride and purpose washing away all the fatigue that comes after working 9 hours straight on. What If we could come up with a process that would recreate such a sensation not based on luck or accident, but based on a smart system and at regular intervals?

We broke down our experience into its component parts to analyze it properly, and noticed that there were two main factors that played a vital role.

1. Some numbers hold a certain power. I knew it was close to 3 years since I had the honor of working with the team, but 1000 days? It made me realize the full scope of the whole thing.

2. There were other such things that would equally excite me, but the hassles of everyday life that demanded my attention at every turn made me forgetful about them. Therefore, I no longer received any joy associated with a positive event.

We stayed till way after the dark, discussing possibilities and fleshing out the detail, and that is how Magical Moments was born.

Do it with passion, or don’t do it at all

The design of Magical Moments was made around those two solid facts. It aligned nicely with the UAE’s happiness vision, and the core idea was unique, which made it all the more exciting. Maybe that is why it didn’t take much to convince the board to greenlight the project.

A must-read for anyone who wishes to create powerful moments in his/her life

We were elated when we found out that the extraordinary impact of keeping numerical milestones has already been studied and proven thoroughly. According to Chip & Dan Heath, the best-selling authors of “The Power of Moments”, paying closer attention to the milestones of one’s life can alter our worldview and propel us toward life-changing experiences.

“…there are some milestones that seem to go ignored. Students get short-changed, for instance. Sure, they advance in “grade”, but why not celebrate their 1000th day in the classroom, or their 50th book read? And why don’t we celebrate teachers for their 1000th student taught?”

– Cheap Heat & Dan Heath, The Power of Moments.

Facebook seemed to be the appropriate platform for the initial launch of our product. With over 2.6 billion users it is the biggest social network in the world. That, along with the fact that our product was tailored around social interaction made Facebook the perfect target.

From Prototypes to Magical Moments

As is our company culture, a brainstorming session was held with all the members of the team present, from the graphist to the backend developer. As always, we were overwhelmed by all the bright ideas that our young crew put forward.  One of the best propositions was to build this new brainchild upon the foundation of one of our shelved prototypes. It was hitting two birds with one stone. We would make use of our previous efforts and make the current project all the richer for it.

The roadmap was drawn and plans were made. We didn’t waste a moment to dive right into developing Magical Moments. You know you’re on the right track when your team spends long hours “testing” what they’re developing, for which I can’t blame them.

In other words, If not for my own testing sessions, I would never know that by the time I was born 1000 days had passed since Steve Jobs had founded the most valuable company in the world? I remember showing off my trivia knowledge to a group of friends when I asked them if they knew today was the 222nd weekiversary of Burj Khalifa’s inauguration.

I won’t spoil the experience for you by spelling out all the details but with gamification already implemented and tons of features on the way, I hope we can have a Magicians’ Duel together one day!

We share our story with the hope that it might inspire other start-ups to continue with their dream projects and stay in the game when faced with hardships.
Have a magical day!

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