Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Dr Shama Rahman is a scientist, artist, creative technologist and futurist. She holds an interdisciplinary PhD in neuroscience and complex systems of Creative Cognition and Innovation. She is the co-author of a book chapter ‘Creativity in the Twenty First Century: Multidisciplinary Contributions to the Science of Creative Thinking’ by Springer.
As an artist, she is a musician and actor, and her work has encompassed the use of wearable technology to enhance storytelling. She is proud of being the first Sitarist Explorer to perform in Antarctica on the first ever Antarctic Biennale. Her adventures have also encompassed being the lead of South East Asia's first supernatural detective 24-part drama thriller.
Her multi-disciplinary practice has led her to be the Artistic Director of the Art/Science creative production agency Jugular Productions, producing interdisciplinary shows, salons, installations, immersive experiences and games. Listen to her Tedx talk on 'Multidisciplinary Creativity'.
Bringing together this extensive knowledge and work together she has founded NeuroCreate - using AI and Neuroscience in a symbiotic digital design to enhance human creativity, performance and wellbeing. NeuroCreate has been shortlisted for the RSA Future of Work ‘Tech for Good’ Awards, alongside a mention by Forbes for NeuroCreate’s innovative approach. Dr Rahman has been ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ finalist by the Olympic Legacy.
Shama, how did you get into fashion tech?
Our vision is to enhance creativity and augment innovation processes. We were testing our product within different creative industries, and had a great response from trials with the London College of Fashion.
What is the idea behind your project / product and how did you come up with it?
My background is both scientist and artist, and I have been doing shows and workshops mixing both methodologies as a multi-disciplinary practice to create. With NeuroCreate, we are creating digital environments and platforms that are personalised to spark creativity and augment the creative process. We’re doing this using interactive AI, digitised innovation frameworks and thinking tools, and neuroscience. Our first product, the FlowCreateTM Innovator, is an AI-powered brainstorming tool that helps you get to your best creative idea faster, by stimulating you with lateral suggestions, helping you see overall connecting themes, and enabling quick creative research.
During my PhD, I identified signature brain patterns during peak creative performance. Now using commercial brain-sensing wearables, we can use AI to detect whether you are in a creative state. Using this knowledge we can personalise the interaction of our digital platforms to help get you in a creative Flow state more reliably and faster.
When did you start with that business, how did you start and do you have other members in your team? How long did it take you to be where you are now?
My PhD took a few years, then we started this company in Dec 2017. I have two other co-founders and work in collaboration with a few other associates.
What was the biggest obstacle? What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Having a small team, it is difficult to juggle and optimise all our activities. We have to develop the product, market and sell the product, and also fundraise with regards to investment. Currently our product is at a beta stage, and we need more funds (whether that is through revenue or investment) in order to get it to the next stage - this is challenging as you can imagine it isn't at its full potential, and we need both our future customers and investors to see the full vision, support us and believe we can fulfil this.
Being a female founder, I have sometimes perceived a bias in some investors (whether conscious or not), in my capabilities, whether this is in the science or my business abilities.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
NeuroCreate has been shortlisted for the Royal Society of Arts Future of Work ‘Tech for Good’ Awards, and has had a Forbes mention. I’ve been an ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ finalist for the Olympic Legacy.
We’ve had 100 trials of our beta product and on average it is scoring 4.5 (out of a max of 5) on creative productivity and enjoyment of the product. We’ve also started paid subscriptions from media agencies.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
We are currently working on getting more people to use our beta product, fundraising and working on the next iteration of the product including integrating wearables into this next offering
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Yes it is as I’m working in both tech and science (deep tech if you will). As I mentioned before there is a bias in investors that need to be overcome. I have personally been accepted onto a Woman in Tech scheme called Plexiglass in East London - which as it name implies is there to support women beyond the current glass ceiling within the tech world.
What will be the key trends in the fashion tech and wearable tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I think the integration of AI is going to be fundamental in personalised experience. Wearables will also be slimmer and more un-noticeable so that they are more natural and seamless. Their design will be more in-depth on account of human behaviour and where they can offer an enhancement of an existing function or behaviour
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Keep Learning! Keep going!
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.