Adrian Peter Tse
Sep 25, 2014

Lessons from kids who change the world from their garages

SPIKES ASIA – According to Vizeum CEO Kristian Barnes, a new generation of youngsters have entrepreneurialism embedded in their DNA. It’s a bold strain that makes them unafraid to take on challenges of a global, and sometimes galactic, scale.

Lessons from kids who change the world from their garages

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

Barnes opened the first-day session by raising his mobile phone. “How many of you in the audience have a battery-power problem?” he asked.

Barnes went on to explain that an 18-year-old recently invented a charger capable of charging batteries within 30 seconds.

Why hadn’t it been a corporation? According to Barnes, the game is rapidly changing and there’s no mould to define an inventor. The certain thing, however, is that the pace of technology and the rise of entrepreneurialism is impacting young creators, making them feel accustomed to new limits.

On stage, sitting on plush couches behind Barnes was Saim Siddiqui, founder of Asli Goli and Muhd Amrullah, founder of FaceRecog. Next to them was an empty space where Nobu Okada, founder of Astroscale should have been sitting. He couldn’t attend Spikes Asia because of a meeting with NASA in Houston—a justified excuse if ever we've heard one. Instead he’d prepared a video to address the audience.

Here’s a rundown of the presentations from the three founders:

Asli Goli

The word and company name means ‘real pill’ and defines the mission Siddiqui has taken on to make legitimate medication available to everyday people in Pakistan, including those on the lower rungs of society. The business aims to fight fake pharmaceuticals in a country where a quarter of drugs are counterfeit.

For Siddiqui the story is personal. His family had a long-time carer that lived in their home with the family; the carer had two children of her own who died from tuberculosis, a disease that is perfectly curable. Later, the family learned that the medication given to the children had been fake.

Solution: Asli Goli has focused on creating a code labelling system for pharmaceutical goods that allow patients to find out if the drugs they’ve purchased are real. Using a low-cost SMS system linked to a network and database, consumers can get immediate feedback. Siddiqui plans to bundle these services with call centre and healthcare lines, in addition to a new tracking system that traces logistical touchpoints from manufacturing through to when products hit shelves. Asli Goli and Siddiqui are now collaborating with regulators.


Okada joined the NASA junior program when he was 15-years-old. In his video, he described a dangerous “belt chain of debris” above our atmosphere that is growing and will impact our daily life. Called the Kessler syndrome, the debris will collide with and disturb our broadcasting, GPS and time stamp technologies—essentially any satellites or technologies circling the belt above our atmosphere.

As more debris is amassed, chain reactions will be set off, making it more difficult to fix. For anyone who has seen the movie Gravity, you can picture the scene. But why aren’t governments and space agencies helping? According to Okadu, countries that have dominated spending on galactic ventures want other beneficiaries to contribute.

Solution: Okadu founded Astroscale and is developing a space buoy that sucks up the space junk, carries it down and releases the debris where gravity can do its work, allowing the junk to disintegrate on re-entry to the atmosphere.


Amrullah cited growing up in a family of five as the seed to his competitive nature. As a university student, he joined hackathons and competitions but later realised he wanted to do something more significant. Amrullah set out on a journey with two close friends to a faraway land to tackle social problems. It was here that the idea for FaceRecog was born.

The initial idea: “So much of the world is unseen. Things that appear still are not still,” said Amrullah.

Solution: FaceRecog employs technology that tracks facial movement in amplified detail (below) allowing deeper understandings to be drawn from stimuli and behaviour.

The service is being used to make out-of-home campaigns measurable – in other words, FaceRecog can track how you look at an ad and how long you spend engaged. According to Amrullah, Uniqlo has been using their service for outdoor media.

“Behaviours don’t lie,” said Amrullah. The technology uses mobile signal tracking and presents an opportunity for advertiser to target people based on raw behavioural data. 

Beyond commercial purposes, Amrullah suggested the technology could be used for social causes, security and lie detection among other things.

Campaign’s observation: These are all very ambitious founders and companies. It’ll be interesting to track their progress.

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