His many tech start-ups – including a loyalty program, a pet service and a food app - reflect the young entrepreneur’s varied interests. Those start-ups are gaining some serious ground in Canada and overseas.
Adam El Daba arrived in Oakville, Ontario in late December 2004. Born and raised in Egypt, he had never seen snow or experienced the sub-zero temperatures of a Canadian winter.
“I stayed in my basement apartment for two days before venturing out. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t prepared.” Enrolled in the winter term of Sheridan’s Computer Science Technology program, El Daba figured he had better check out the campus, and for the former pro soccer player, what better place to start than in the gym. Serendipitously, the first person he met was Tony Silvestri, then Soccer Coach of the Men’s Indoor Team at Sheridan. Since that day, El Daba has amassed a list of achievements both on and off the field, and an unbreakable Sheridan connection.
El Daba not only joined the Bruins soccer team but went on to become Captain and MVP in 2006-07, receiving the Award for Athletic/Academic Excellence the same year. By the time he graduated in 2007, El Daba was named a Scholar Athlete twice by the Canadian College Athletic Association and three times by the Ontario College Athletic Association.
Off the field, he cut his teeth at technology company Davis and Henderson, eventually leading a team of developers before striking out on his own in 2010 to form Softmills Inc. which offers support to technology start-ups. But Sheridan athletics remained a big part of his life. From 2008 to 2011 he was Assistant Coach of the Bruins Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Soccer Teams, all while continuing to build his company, becoming successful enough to sponsor the 2014 National Men’s Soccer Championship hosted at Sheridan. The icing on the cake for El Daba: Sheridan won gold.
“Sponsoring the tournament was a no-brainer for me,” said El Daba. “It was a way to thank the people at Sheridan who have had such an influence on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Sheridan. “Jim Flack supported me 100%. He is committed to the academic performance of his athletes as much as he is to their actions on the field.”
His words are a testament to the impact that college athletics has on shaping young people into responsible, confident and hard-working graduates.
“This place is something I really believe in. Sheridan helped build my character.”
Adam El Daba
A shy child, El Daba built self-confidence through sport. In 2003, he was recruited by professional soccer club Walton in England and played for four months. But his parents vetoed pro sports, insisting that education come first. Not sure about his future, El Daba took a year off and played soccer in Egypt when a torn quad muscle ended any dream of a pro career. A desire to start fresh led El Daba to Canada and to Sheridan.
Today, his company provides product development and business planning support to multiple ventures in Canada, as well as Egypt and Dubai. One of these projects, Hamilton, Ontario-based AdvanTag, was a finalist in the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Enterprise Forum Arab Start-up Competition in 2012. AdvanTag is a loyalty platform that sees customers use a tablet to shop and share on social media to earn rewards. Today, AdvanTag has over 80,000 customers and more than 200 retailers in Dubai and Canada.
Loyalty program AdvanTag was a finalist in the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Start-up Competition.
Other start-ups under Softmills’ belt include food rating app Ranggo, a pet service called Waggie Box and Borsatweets, the first online social community platform for stocks in the Middle East. A passion project based in Dubai, Waggie Box hit the ground running, attracting 14,000 visitors upon its mini-launch in early 2015. Waggielympics (dog Olympics in the United Arab Emirates) and the Waggie Store soon followed, with plans for Waggie TV now in the works.
Such success underscores the importance of working with a team of dedicated and talented people, stressed El Daba, who is grateful for the guidance of his business partner, Mo Shahin. “To me, team means trust, loyalty, compromise, love, family and happiness. I have the greatest team anyone could ask for.”
Waggie Box is not the only project that reflects El Daba’s many personal interests. A self-confessed foodie, he also owns four restaurants – two in Egypt and two in Dubai. “Adam embodies passion. It is behind everything he does,” according to fellow alumnus Silvestri, now Sheridan’s Davis Campus Facility Coordinator, who remains a close friend.
El Daba has had a chance to pass on his passion to students at speaking engagements through MIT, and is keen to bring his message to Sheridan student-athletes. “I hope that I can inspire them to commit themselves to something and realize that life is really what you make it.”
He is likely to have that opportunity, as he regularly returns to Oakville, staying with Silvestri and catching up on Sheridan news. El Daba sums it up simply: “This place is something I really believe in. I can’t stay away.”
Download AvanTag and Ranggo apps here. (www.advantag.me) | (www.ranggo.ca)
www.waggiebox.com | shop.waggiebox.com (online store)http://www.softmills.com/
Learn more about Sheridan’s Applied Computing programs.
Read Coach Jim Flack’s philosophy for winning at sport and life in Sheridan’s blog curiosities.