In conversation with Civixa Co-Founder Alveena Sohail – a web developer by profession and a female entrepreneur in the AI field
Civixa has been operating for over two years and was co-founded by Alveena Sohail, Talha Yasin & Hassan Kamal. Civixa is a startup designed to help computer vision based companies in gathering, structuring and labelling the dataset with 50% less manpower, time and money.
We sat down with Alveena to delve deeper into Civixa and what her startup experience entailed. Alveena had initially never thought of being an entrepreneur; instead she always imagined working a 9-5 job and liked the stability that came with it. However, a personal loss of a parent completely changed her perspective and career trajectory. She started off with a small business capitalising on her talent as a web developer. However, she soon realised that a business had more aspects than just capitalising on technical talent and had to be a holistic entity with every facet of the business covered. Here she along with her co-founders established Civixa – Talha & Hassan were the missing building blocks Civixa needed. Alveena is a software developer so her work centers on the technical aspect of the business, Talha focuses on marketing and Hassan manages the business development. They all have specialised areas in which they excel. Civixa was selected for Start-Up Chile which meant that Alveena relocated to Chile for a year. Start-Up Chile is a seed accelerator created by the Chilean Government to provide equity free investment for qualified startups. The time in Chile exposed Alveena to a multicultural environment, allowing her the opportunity to interact with peers and learn from them.
According to Alveena when Civixa initially started operating there were a lot of challenges – in fact when we asked Alveena to sum up her entrepreneurial journey in one word she used ‘rollercoaster’. Speaking about her personal struggles she highlighted the biggest challenge she faced as a woman entrepreneur was being taken seriously. She recalled walking into meetings initially where her male counterparts were addressed and she was excluded from the conversation. Secondly, at that time a female in an AI field was rare so clients hesitated to work with her. What helped her overcome these challenges was a piece of advice given to her earlier in her career by her mentor Jawwad Farid which has stuck with her in the last two years: ‘Burn out the Plan B’s – there should only be a Plan A’. This advice resonated with Alveena because she’s a firm believer that once you commit to an idea then give it a 100%. There should not be any ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ left in one’s mind afterwards. Therefore, when faced with adversity and challenges Alveena wanted to soldier on as she truly believed in Civixa. In fact, she would give the same advice to aspiring founders and ask them to commit to a cause irrevocably. Reflecting on the last two years Alveena felt that there wasn’t much that she would want to change in her journey since the experiences and struggles made their startup what it is. Alveena and her team attribute the growth of their startup to their hard work and guidance by their mentors Jehan Ara & Jawwad Farid.
While talking about the startup ecosystem Alveena felt that in the last two years efforts to support women entrepreneurs had gained momentum and the attitude towards women founders has positively changed. Therefore, now when she walks into a meeting or a boardroom the hesitation she once faced is not as prominent. Alveena is hopeful that with time the startup ecosystem will grow further and have greater inclusivity.
Today Civixa has 1.2M+ images labelled with clientele in Chile, Argentina, UAE and the US. We are excited to see what the future holds for Civixa and for Alveena and her co-founders and hope it soars and reaches new heights!