Muhammad Usman, Co-Founder & CTO WonderTree
Like any other Software Engineering student in love with programming, Muhammad Usman spent most of his time at university searching for the next big idea. For his final year project, he hit a goldmine with an idea now known as WonderTree.
Usman channeled his passion for games into developing an app for children with special needs. The app essentially lets children play intricately designed games and records their behavioral patterns while playing. At the end, parents receive analytics about their children that in turn will help them better attend to their children’s most pressing needs. However, Usman did not want the idea to die after his final year project completed. Therefore, as he approached graduation, he actively began pursuing opportunities to morph it into a full-fledged commercial app. One instance that stands out in particular is a Pakistan Innovation Foundation competition where his team took away first prize out of over 300 participants. This further consolidated Usman’s stance on making WonderTree into a business.
With time, Usman began expanding his team by bringing in more people to work on development and marketing. By mid last year, he had the product ready but no one seemed to want to buy it. However, that changed in August when WonderTree was crowned winner at GIST 2016. Since then the startup has been on a roll, and succeeded in getting a research paper published and winning top prizes at APICTA and the P@SHA ICT Awards. These wins, particularly the one at GIST, has projected them onto the international arena with the startup seeing a considerable increase in order placements from USA, UK, and Europe.
However, WonderTree hasn’t had a good reception in Pakistan so far. Installing the system in schools is met with a bottleneck at the administration which is not well-equipped to adapt to the new system. So far a small number of schools in Islamabad and Karachi have come on board.
If Usman is able to overcome these challenges, he is rightly positioned to place WonderTree at the forefront of special needs education.