Innovation Stories From Around The Globe

AngelHack In Iraq? A Q&A With Goran, Our Iraq Ambassador

Jun 14, 2015 9:41:35 PM / by casecase

AngelHack Ambassadors are the BEST FRICKING PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. Yes, that’s a big statement, but we believe it.

Seriously, these guys and gals rock (from all corners of the globe)!

The work they put in to organize and bring AngelHack hackathons to your neck of the woods continuously amazes us.We touched base with our AngelHack Iraq Ambassador, Goran Sherko, and got some insight from him on the tech and hackathon scene in Iraq.

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How did you first get introduced to AngelHack? And how did that segue into becoming an AngelHack ambassador?

One day, I saw a post on the Hackathon Hackers Facebook group talking about AngelHack events around the world. Right after that I wrote a comment and brought up the fact that we are about to organize the first hackathon ever here. Then we had a video call with Sabeen (AngelHack CEO/Founder).

Now we’ve teamed up, with me in the role of AngelHack’s first Iraq ambassador!

Where in Iraq are you based? And can you tell me a little bit about the tech world in Iraq? Challenges? Exciting startups?

I am originally from Sulaymaniyah but currently living in Erbil in Kurdistan of Iraq. The tech world here is improving every day after another. In 2013, the first Startup Weekend event was organized, and until now it reached to 8 Startup Weekend event in 4 different cities. Through those events, we discovered that we have lots of talented people in our country. But the only challenge they face is that we are lacking of hacker communities.

There is not a place for them to bring all talented people in one place and connect them together to make awesome stuff. And also there is not a specific place to support them in different kinds of way. So through the hackathon (HackaErbil) that we are planning to organize we hope that we make a community to solve these problems, or at least be a helping hand for them not to feel alone.

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What most excites you about this upcoming hackathon?

At the beginning of knowing hackathons i was really inspired by "Alejandro Saucedo" the CEO of HackaGlobal. Through him, i could see how exciting it would be to organize a hackathon and see the impact on your community. I was inspired by Sabeen’s TEDx talk too.

The most exciting thing for this hackathon is that i will be making the starting point for organizing hackathons in my country. I hope, one day, this will lead to founding hundreds of tech startups in my community that i will be proud of.

What potential do you see for hackathons and tech in Iraq?

As I said earlier, we have many talented developers, designers and entrepreneurs. BUT we are lacking hacker communities. When I started talking about the idea of hackathons with my peers they got really excited, and they were like "this is exactly what we need!” And also our local companies love the idea and they always try to help us in some way. For example, I talked to the General Manager of the second best hotel in my city about the idea of hackathons and asked him to give us the venue so we could make this happen. And he was like "Ok, Stop, i don't need more informations. You got the venue for free.”

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Erbil is the largest city and capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. It is located in the centre of Kurdistan. The population (as of 2013) is 1.5 million.

Do you see any problems that could be solved by tech innovations? Any social problems that could be solved by new tech? For example, many new apps have emerged have stepped in to improve life in Africa. 

Since our community still has a ways to go in the field of technology. I believe that there are TONS of ways to innovate. We need more apps and websites to make our lives easier. And we also need more stuff in the field of hardware.

Are you a developer? What kind of projects do you like to work on?

Yes! So as a web developer, I like to work on projects that will serve humanity, especially my community. I want to get involved in a project that has never been done before.

Before I start any project, I think about the benefit for others, and if my project does not serve them in any kind of way, then I won't do that project.

 

Hackathons can (and do!) inspire people. It's extremely common to hear from people who have very little programming experience, but just wanted to experience a hackathon, say that they've come away from event INSPIRED to learn new skills. Bringing a hackathon to Iraq might just be the jump start to a whole new wave of technological innovation there.

The winners of our Global Hackathon Series events receive an invitation to AngelHack’s HACKcelerator program, a 12-week program that prepares the teams to pitch their product at Global Demo Day in front of 100+ investors.

Will it be a team from Iraq who makes it big at Global Demo Day? Only time will tell.

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Written by casecase