Interview With Farhan Masood CEO, Solo Smart Inc

by Noc Team on March 24, 2010

Interviewed By Sara Waqar Khan

After quite number of delays we finally got hold of Farhan Masood on this 23rd March. Though it was difficult to get hold of him due to his busy schedule but CodeWeek today has managed to make everything possible for its readers. This is an interview which will make you evergreen. We present to you CEO, SOLO SMART Farhan Masood.

You’re brief Introduction:

A restless soul, determined to make some difference. Professionally, a futurologist with keen interest in technology and psychology. CEO of Solo Smart Inc, a hi-tech research firm working in the field of Megatronics, a right mix of Software, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Solo Smart manufactures Facial Recognition and Artificial Intelligence based Robotic Security gates in Italy while all the technology development takes place in the this amazing country of Pakistan. A full time patriot, founder of Go Green Pakistan initiative and actively participating in nation building activities with Pakistan Youth Revolution.

My friends know me as…

I have lots of friends…. Some say I have a buddy factory. Those who know me find me witty, philosopher, geek, yet reliable and trust worthy. Always ready to go any mile to help within my capacity. Close ones call me Pagal, Deewana and a Cookie Monster…. Yeah I can go on moon for cookies. I trouble fails to find me I search for it from every nook and corner… The rest call me a patriot.

My employees know me as…

Lenient, kind hearted, flexible and easy going…. All qualities not recommended for any boss.

1. Can you sum up year 2009 in a few paragraphs?

a)     Expectations

Hazaron khwahishain aisee keh her khwahish peh dam niklay… There were a lot of expectations from 2009, yet it was a  slow year due to global recession. We achieved a lot from the development side. Plus their were failures and successes from the business side as well. Overall 2009 was restless and a the same time energetic year.

b)    Success

  • Technologically, it was an year of achievements. We completed many of our products including Facial Recognition Security Gate with comprehensive HRMS software suite for industrial sector, FaceXS Facial Recognition Attendance and Access Control unit for corporate sector and a Visitors Management System.
  • For our Face Recognition Security Gate solution, we were able to complete our development of 3D Face Recognition algorithm, its turnstile formation into a high security gate.
  • Hammer proof Touch screen interface add on for illiterate friendliness.
  • SMS based event watch dog which predicts if an employee will not arrive today etc.
  • Much enhanced artificial intelligence and decision support system. Highly secure Dual technology RFID and Contactless development and integration and a lot more.
  • We were able to start our production in Italy and also outsourced manufacturing of a low cost smaller unit in China. Interestingly we co-developed with our Italian Partners a Blast Proof Suicide Bomber Prevention Trap Portal which may secure high risk buildings.
  • Business wise we were able to strike the deals with richest group in Pakistan called Nishat and got all the appreciation of the visionary Mansha Sahib, followed by the global legend Pepsi Cola for starting eventually from their biggest bottling plant situated in Gujranwala. We compiled our installation at PEL, where our system has been approved for the largest possible shift in Pakistan under one roof at one time. With over 8000 employees, the PEL setup is busier  then the busiest airport in the world.

c)     Failures

In order to achieve all these we faced many failures as well. We succeeded because we failed. Out of Lab successes turned out to be worst failures in industrial environment. We had to fight chip-bursting heat, had to improve our algorithms a lot to cope up with evil minded labor and what not. We had to close down our manufacturing unit in Pakistan, as we were not able to achieve the quality, and due to a few import sanctions and unavailability of various chips in the local market.

d)    Friends

It was the year of social media. Made a lot of friends over Facebook and Twitter and met a lots of them. Mostly are nice people. Found lost ones from school and college. Learnt that social media takes you near to those who are far away from you while takes you far away from those who are sitting right next to you waiting to be heard. With this thought I have minimized my use of social media for a while.

e)     New Business Ventures

We formed manufacturing alliances in Italy, Turkey and China with renowned factories to manufacture our designed hardware under an OEM license.

f)     Plans

If you want to make GOD laugh, tell him your plans. A lot of pending things include a Face Recognition based ATM, a VIP customer detection center, a finger portable biometric location device and a lots more.

g)     Travels

I Traveled to Australia and China, while my partner was in Italy and Turkey to represent me. 2. Lessons Learnt from 2009? Everything happens at its own time. Always build your dreams over smaller achievable goals and set targets to achieve them. Always add staple sellable items to your business plans as big projects are not that easy to sell. Demand Supply rule taught to us in Economics has no application without a factor called bribe. Alhamdolilah we have not so far been into bribe business yet it had been a tough path we chose. Never ever attempt for Government and Army Projects. They always give business to the ones they want to, and just waste your time to collect information from you and handing over to those who will actually do the projects.

2. Awards and recognitions

In my career so far I have won 21 awards.

In year 2009 I received P@SHA ICT Award and APICTA from Melbourne Australia as well.

3. What comes to your mind when I say:

a)     Pakistan

Pakistan is rising… Pakistan is not a piece of land. I am Pakistan you are Pakistan, We are Pakistan…. We will change, so will Pakistan

b)    2010

2010 was a tough year to make or break… stay determined and you should get there.

c)     Gadgets

As a futurologist I play with toys of the future which I cannot own yet. This way it has killed my urge to own anything that’s in the market. Otherwise you will find me loaded with old but useful gadgets.

d)    Go Green

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step… and Go Green Pakistan has played its role among the society with your help. The concept of Go Green is to bring patriotism back in the people, to unite them and keep the hope alive ~ which is the driving force for every successful nation. The idea was to bring all Pakistanis close through Social Media & show unity towards #Pakistan and humanity by changing their display pictures and Avatars with Green Flag of Pakistan on Twitter and Facebook. This experiment was quite successful and was promoted by many new followers every day.

On Twitter and Facebook I was often disappointed by a large number of Pakistanis indulged in negative discussions, which left the youth in despair and hopelessness. The slogans like “Pakistan se zinda bhag” (Run from Pakistan Alive) were circulating everywhere and it was really painful for a patriot like me to digest.

Negative criticism leads towards complete chaos. In order to cease it, I used the power of Social Media to reach out to a larger number of Pakistani Intellectuals with minimum effort.

So far 38,600 plus have turned GREEN… Without you it was not possible and you may think it was just a small JOB you were involved in ?

What GO GREEN has achieved so far?

by turning GREEN…

a) You have literally touched hearts, lit hope, triggered emotions and awakened the sleeping LOVE among Pakistanis of the cyber world !

Ali Ahmed, 21 via email says
All my life I never felt any love for Pakistan. Your Go Green campaign has made me feel for the first time that deep down I love my country and that feeling is now just making me crazy, Thank you for waking me up. Pakistan Zindabad!

b) You have created a distinctive identity of Pakistanis across the CyberSpace. Nobody will now ask us ARE U INDIAN ?

@shubhankar – An Indian tweets
How to identify a #Pakistani on Twitter – they have ALL turned green…. with envy Go Green with #Pakistan

c) You have created a notion of pride among other Nations

Kuroi Noshiyorul – An Indonesian on Independence day of Indonesia via Facebook Status
Although there is no Indonesian Flag * profile pic * I still love Indonesia !

d) You have noticeably eliminated negative discussions on Pakistan on Twitter and Facebook – Alhamdolilah

Saima – Psychologist via Facebook Message
Very clever Farhan, why would anyone with a Pakistani Flag Pic share negative stuff about Pakistan… so more u will turn GREEN, less negative stuff about Pakistan will come on the Internet from Pakistanis. May Allah bless you and do more good for Pakistan.

I have over 10,500 comments in your praise I just picked a few like

Yussarah Nasir
let the world know what Pakistan is….

Sabahat Ashraf
this could go global! we should offer this to everyone–maybe with a small “offered as a service by the people of Pakistan”?

Muhammad Waqar Zafar
Excellent Work Indeed, Green Team, Your Work Have Certainly Fueled Up The High Spirit Of Patriotism. Just Keep Up The Good Work …

Go Green Pakistan is now the piece of a bigger cake now called Pakistan Youth Revolution, a social welfare platform for youth to work for Pakistan.

e) FaceXS

Imagine someday walking up to the front door of your home or office, and instead of whipping out your keys or RFID keycard, you stare into a facial recognition device that decides whether or not you’re really you. While this sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, this technology is real, and available today.

Upon taking an advice from my mentor Monis Rehman, the CEO of Naseeb Networks, I indulged into the development of a cheaper staple product in our Facial Recognition family for the less focused corporate sector.

FaceXS is a Dual Sensor 3D Face Recognition device that is fool and fail proof. It uses advanced linescan technology to achieve ultra-high resolution Facial Recognition; capable of identification and verification of Faces in less then a second. FaceXS can’t be fooled with Pictures and Posters as it uses near infrared 3D sensors to identify real human Faces, and any facial changes like beard, moustache, clean shave, and anti-glare glasses. FaceXS can convert almost any type of wooden, glass or aluminium doors into digital access bays open for those who are permitted and closed for those who are not authorized.

FaceXS can also be used to collect Time and Attendance data in the corporate offices as the machine stores 500 users and easily integrates with our Attendance Magic Software.

f)     Fatherhood

The world’s most amazing feeling is being a father, having showers of hugs and kisses that sweep all your worries away. I have a 5 year old Beautiful daughter and her name is Nashmia, and my world revolves around her. It was difficult as a single parent yet thanks to my mother who made it easy for me.

g)     Farhan Masood

Bullya kee janaa main kon !

  • How would you advise youngsters who wish to join Software Industry as a career?

You cannot be successful overnight. Stay determined in whatever you do and you will touch the skies. Explore the mobile phone programming industry. Andriod and Iphone apps would soon be as big as the software industry itself. Professional video games would be the next best market. Social Media Apps are growing fast too and must not be ignored, specially the Facebook programming.

  • What is your broad perception about this community in Pakistan as it stands today?

I think Pakistan is full of talent, and all they need is direction and guidance. Hard work beats talent if talent does not work hard…. And these days it is needed to work extra smart too. One thing we need to change is that we Pakistanis work on the principle of Rockets, We aim high but don’t move towards it unless we are in dire need.

  • What are your personal professional plans for the immediate future for the next 10 years?

Building a global distribution network for our products and maturing illiterate friendly hardware and software tools.

  • Any message you would want to give to the world?

Lets make this world a better place with love, peace, and harmony and by eliminating all the hatred.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Talal Masood March 24, 2010 at 6:49 AM

Farhan bhai is one of the most successful entrepreneur, who started with just little resources and now is quite successful. The best part of Farhan Masood is that he is a patriotic Pakistani. I really sometimes think that Pakistan is a blessed land, when you will love it, you will see a huge change in your life. Everything will start becoming good.

Go Green Pakistan made us put our Pakistani identity over the Internet. There are so many people who are not even Pakistanis and are putting their display pictures with a Pakistani flag, just to show that Pakistan is a friendly nation and they are a friend of Pakistan.

Pakistan Zindabad :)

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry March 24, 2010 at 7:38 AM

Farhan, since 2006, you have come a long away. Some serious respect from my side bro. All the best!

Irfan Shahid March 24, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Rafaeel, passion for IT goes even before 2006, I guess somewhere close to year 2000 when he was working for Brain NET.

Asim Zeeshan March 24, 2010 at 9:53 AM

He is truely an IT guru as well as a patriot. Hats off to Farhan.

I must also say that Im surprized and happy to see Talal Masood here in the comments section :)

Imran Hunzai March 24, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Great person to follow to achieve success in IT entrepreneurship

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry March 24, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Irfan, i was talking about the time when he came back to Pakistan from Dubai and started from scratch. Also i got to know about him at this time. I didn’t know about him before that :)

Rehan March 25, 2010 at 1:22 AM

Nice

Ayesha March 25, 2010 at 2:59 AM

Pakistani youngsters rock Mashallah!! We all must stand unite and raise Pakistan by all means! I once attended a school function last year in Dec where Pakistan Youth Revolution arranged a combine Peace event in between Muslims and Christians, there Farhan Masood delivered a speech where he told the audience what good steps he is currently taking for the betterment of under privileged people in Pakistan. this is indeed a great service to humanity! We all must play our roles!

Long Live Pakistan

Joanna March 25, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Having recently had the good fortune to stay with Farhan and his family in Lahore, it was great to read this article and know more about him. He is all that you say, and much more. His hospitality towards a disabled English woman was boundless, but that is how Pakistanis are. Farhan is really the coolest person I know, with his lovely warm smile and calm and cheerful ways, whatever the circumstances. Keep it up! Pakistan Zindabad!

Salman Khalid March 25, 2010 at 4:17 PM

I am really impressed by the Farhan Masood’s thoughts about Pakistan and his IT knowledge,effort to grow IT industry in Pakistan…..especially when he suggest the Mobile App and Social Networking Programming is the next future………

keep it up……and try to do something that make us proud as Pakistani

Arshad Kamal Sethi March 26, 2010 at 11:23 PM

Nice to meet a young gentleman who is doing a lot of effort for Pakistan. We hope to hear a lot more about him in the future. People like Farhan Masood are the real assets of Pakistan. They are the future of Pakistan and i wish him all the best in his future life.

Haya Khan March 30, 2010 at 2:29 PM

I am a big fan of Farhan Masood, he is too good !

Talal Masood April 8, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Where there’s Farhan .. You’ll find me too :) I’m happy for the success of Farhan Masood. He’s like an elder brother to me. He showed me many ways of life in the shortest period. He scolded me many times when I’m wrong. And I’m thankful to him for doing that because that was my actual learning stage. On the personal side of him, this man is senseless :) he is the most modest man i’ve met. He does not hate anyone and I think this is his key to success. His only moto is “You don’t have to hate anyone to love someone.”

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