Jahanzeb Sherwani shares his story on ITLoW

June 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm 11 comments

ITLOW-Jehanzeb JaaduYes that is my MacBook Air and yes I did let young Jahanzeb Sherwani use it. No that does not mean that any of you can even dream of having access to it. Jahanzeb is special. He is the magician behind Jaadu VNC – the product that lets you access and use your laptop from anywhere in the world with your iPhone. And I did it for all of you out there – so that Jahanzeb could actually show you how Jaadu VNC works!

Anyway, on with the post. When I heard that Jahanzeb who is the Founder and CEO of Jugaari Inc,  was in town, there was no way I was going to let him escape without getting him to the set of ITLoW. He had very little time but he was sweet enough to agree – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jahanzeb went to school in Karachi at Karachi Grammar School and then went onto LUMS for his BSc in Computer Science. Once he had done that, he played around with technology for a year while still at home (details regarding the tinkering are revealed in  his conversation with us on ITLoW). In 2003, Jahanzeb applied to, and got into, Carnegie Mellon for his PhD in Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Speech Recognition. He has just completed his Phd so you can all call him Dr. Jahanzeb Sherwani. 🙂 He is still grappling with the reality of that title.

This interview was one of the easiest that i have done to date. Jahanzeb is so excited by all that he has done, and is involved in, that i didn’t have to nudge and  poke to get him to talk about it. I just sat back and listened and enjoyed every bit of the story he had to tell.

Some of the important things that came out in the interview included the need for cross-disciplinary interaction at University (yes I know we have discussed this before – just shows you that it is so relevant that it keeps coming back). There need to be projects that CS students, Business students and Social Science students work on together – each will bring their own strength and ideas to the table thereby resulting in solutions that benefit the community and business. At the moment young people don’t work in the area of ICT4D because they believe that it cannot generate revenue for them. Nothing is further from the truth. ICT4D initiatives have to generate revenue to be self-sustaining.

Jahanzeb also told us that students at Carnegie Mellon have the option of which professors to work with on their PhD projects. Professors present their projects and students choose the one that excites them. Of course I am sure there is more to the process but the fact that it is the student who chooses which professor he/she wants to be attached to, is in itself amazing..

In this episode of ITLoW Jahanzeb emphasizes that any idea you have, should be tried out, especially when you are still at university – you never know which one will take off and become a huge success. You should not be afraid of failure – especially not at this stage. Jaadu VNC started life as a weekend project because J liked to  play around with technology. It has ended up as a good business which he will take forward in a more structured fashion now that he has finished his doctrate. Click here to go to  the original post and the first video that Jahanzeb uploaded to YouTube which, to his surprise, was picked up by Engadget and Gizmodo and got a 100,000 hits. At that stage the product was called Touchpad Pro.

Over the time I have known him, I have found that Jahanzeb has been more excited about the HealthLine PhD project that he has been working on with Hands, an NGO. Speech recognition is, he believes, the equalizer, the ultimate enabler. It doesn’t matter if you are illiterate or if you speak a different language. Anyway, I am not planning to give the whole show away. Go and watch the episode and listen to what Jahanzeb has to say about all of this – and more. And don’t forget to check out the demo that he exclusively made for ITLoW viewers.

The iPhone application that he developed made it to the #19 spot on the iTunes App Store and was amongst the Staff Favourites.

He has an open offer for the brightest and most talented people out there:

If you’re looking to work on innovations in an exciting new space, whether you have a business, marketing, technology, or customer support background, get in touch.

By the way, Jahanzeb is not simply a computer scientist, an entrepreneur and a social scientist, he has other talents too. Watch this video and see for yourself:

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