App developers and co-founders of Imagine Team, Zakaria Bouguettaya (BSEng (Hons) ’12) and Andrew Clapham (BSc ’11) were recently announced as winners of The Digital Canberra Challenge for finding ways to make ACT Government-run services more efficiently.
Imagine Team's winning idea is a one size fits all "digital ID" condensing cards for buses, libraries and other government services into one app for smartphones.
The alumni innovators also took out the 2014 Canberra BusinessPoint Business of the Year award in the Web and Mobile Category for the app MyBus, enabling users to look their bus timetables up offline on Android and iOS, recharge their MyWay balance. It is also Canberra's first app that shows real-time bus data.
We caught up with Zakaria and Andrew to reflect on their time at ANU.
How do you feel when you reflect on your time at ANU?
(Andrew) It reminds me of meeting more like-minded friends than I ever had before, and since. I met my business partner for our QuicklyPay.it app start-up, and Imagine Team. I also met other friends for life, while I learned the foundation of the technical skills that I use now as a start-up co-founder and company director.
Tell us how your degree has made a professional or personal impact.
(Zakaria) When I started Software Engineering at ANU, I thought I would come out the other end with a concrete skill-set with a number of programming languages and the capacity to jump into any software-related role with ease.
What I found instead is that the skillset I developed is the one most university students end up with; the knowledge of how best to tackle a subject I knew little about and become proficient at it, as well as the value of (developing) inter-personal relationships.
(Andrew) ANU has given me skills to solve known problems, as well as the theoretical understanding to tackle any technical problem I've encountered in a start-up including: scaling algorithms for growth, cryptography for security, and learning any new programming language.
How did you start in business?
All the founders of the QuicklyPay.it app met at ANU as classmates in Computer Science. We often had late-night dinner sessions after studying, and as students on a budget we had the issue of splitting the bill. We built the QuicklyPay.it app to solve this problem. Well before graduating from ANU, we had thousands of users in our first app, and our first customers.
What problems have you encountered in operating a business?
Hiring has been a difficult thing. People are the most important part of any business. We are always looking to hire student interns and students close to graduating who are proactive and intelligent.
What are your aspirations?
We would love nothing better than to see every young Australian that spends money with their mates download and use QuicklyPay.it at every opportunity. We’d also like to recruit more like-minded ANU alumni to Imagine Team.
Zakaria and Andrew in conversation with Michael Burke, Alumni Officer.