What Jade Autism Really Thinks About Moving from Brazil to the UAE
Meet Ronaldo – CEO of Jade Autism, one of three startups chosen to represent Team UAE at this year’s Entrepreneurship World Cup. Jade develops gamified therapeutic solutions for children and adolescents with cognitive disabilities – read on to learn about the importance of business mentorship for the startup community and more.
What did you do before becoming an entrepreneur? What inspired you to switch?
Upon graduating in Business Administration, I then ventured into the music entertainment business in for ten years, where I established a music label in Brazil and a relatively well-known band known as Rajar.
In 2013, my son Lucas was born and at the age of two, he was diagnosed with autism. During that time, I was in the process of obtaining my second degree in Computer Science and for my final project before graduating, I decided to develop something that could help people like us with special needs. Through extensive research and development, this led to the launch of Jade Autism.
What markets do you hope to enter in the next 12 months?
We currently have 75,000 family users around the world and we are in the process of expanding the therapeutic data platform to professionals across several regions. We recently adapted the platform to Arabic, to gear up for expanding into the MENA region and believe that Hub71’s role is fundamental to helping us fulfill these plans. Additionally, we are in a similar process of setting up in the UK with a view to access Europe.
How important is a business mentor for startups? Who is your business mentor and what is it that they offer you?
I would say it is fundamental! Through our recent experience of expansion, each region has its differences and cultural nuances that you need to adapt to, especially if you want to repeat success. We had Mr. Jose Rubinger and Mr. Swethal Kumar who were two very important mentors for us upon our arrival in Abu Dhabi. Through their extensive market experience in the region, we managed to overcome barriers that alone would have taken us much longer to understand, act and conquer.
What would you say to an investor/VC that’s never been to the UAE?
We came from Brazil, and I believe that people there are still unaware of the real grandeur of the UAE. Personally, I was completely amazed by this country when I saw its level of development beyond the beautiful culture that exists in the UAE. Without a doubt it is one of the best places in the world to be, whether you’re an investor or not. Simply, we fell in love with the nation, which really motivated us to contribute and be part of the community.
What makes a good investor?
We have investors in Brazil, and regularly stay in contact with several others, and I can say that we have had almost every kind of experience with them. But the best experiences were with those who opened themselves up to really understanding the needs and paths taken by the company, somehow becoming a working arm of the business, rather than grouping the company with 100 others in an identical process – I don’t believe this works.
What are the biggest areas for Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning tech sector?
The UAE is really climbing to the top of the technology world, standing out globally. Hub71 has been truly magnificent, but I would also highlight the renowned education institutions that have made a strong impact in the industry such as New York University Abu Dhabi, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Brighton College Abu Dhabi and Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.
What advice would you give anyone who’s considering starting up for themselves?
I would say that the makeup of your team who you will work with is most important. You will hardly master every area that needs to be developed, so by bringing together people who are proficient in these areas, they will minimize the pain you seek to resolve. And above all, act with your brain and think with your heart.