With a PhD in electronic engineering and over eight years of research work at Flinders University, Aaron Mohtar founded elppy to make a larger, more direct and practical difference to everyday people’s lives.
Aaron was born in Adelaide, but completed his high school diploma in Lebanon, and since completing his degree and doctorate he has worked as a Senior Research Associate at Flinders University in Adelaide.
In this role he is directly involved in the research, development and evaluation of medical devices, including anti-suffocation pillows, handheld cancer problems and post-operative rehabilitation devices. He thrives on seeing the devices he has designed make it to the commercialisation process and contributing to the medical industry.
Aaron has been recognised with awards, media coverage and other accolades for his work, including first prize at the 2014 Flinders University Enterprise Workshop gala for his team’s outstanding entrepreneurial and business acumen, and being accepted into the Innovyz Commercialization Program for elppy (formerly known as swyper) which he co-founded with Belinda Wade and Greg Stevens.
Mentors are really important to us … Best of all they are there to pick you up and help you continue going forward when you face a difficult business decision or setbacks.
Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Elppy is a smart ring that connects to your phone, tablet or PC, and allows you to control music, photo shutter (selfies) and your presentation slides.
We’re a group of enthusiastic young entrepreneurs wanting to make wearable tech go mainstream!
Please explain your business model?
We are launching our product as a crowdfunding campaign. Parallel to that, we’re investigating the potential to sell to retailers and promotional marketing companies.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We’re focused on getting our crowd funding campaign launched on Tue 24 May 2016! We’re most excited about having a successful campaign and to start manufacturing the product in large quantities – hopefully shipping to customers around the world.
How do you make ideas happen?
We have a good combination of skills in our group ranging from creative brainstorming to engineers and implementation, and when we get an idea we usually chat about it over coffee. A lot of our brainstorming and ideas are galvanised in coffee shops and restaurants.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
Mentors are really important to us, particularly as we are a start-up business. We have had a great opportunity to meet many successful business advisors, some of which now play an ongoing role in mentoring to us. We bounce ideas with them regarding the direction of the company and conquering the business obstacles that we might face.
Best of all they are there to pick you up and help you continue going forward when you face a difficult business decision or setbacks.
What does your typical day look like?
- Coffee and breakfast
- Look at social media channels for elppy
- Create to-do list for the day
- Work on the computer, go to meetings and talk on the phone with advisers and stakeholders
- Lunch (and coffee)
- More computer work
- Review to-do list – hopefully it is much smaller J
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
As a start-up with limited funds, there are many expensive items that are not directly related to conducting the business. However, we have been lucky to be supported by many business mentors and as winners of an entrepreneurial programme, we have had a lot of support donated in-kind.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
A portable intravenous (I.V.) coffee machine.
Who do you think is doing really cool stuff in your industry in Australia at the moment?
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Making technology more accessible to people, both in price and ease of use.
It is easy to see that technology actually drives society and social interactions. Smartphones, tablets, computers, they are being used in schools, as social interactive tools and advancing capabilities in a business sense. Demand for these products has naturally driven the prices down to an affordable level.
Speaking of affecting social change, Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
Can you name a website you would recommend to our readers?
www.railpage.com.au (I am a tragic train nut J)
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
We are looking for funding and help with marketing and bookkeeping.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Argo on the Parade (Norwood, SA)