Q&A: Amr Sobhy, Information Activist
We interviewed Amr Sobhy, the young Egyptian behind the crowd-sourced anti-corruption initiative Zabatak, accountability counter MorsiMeter and new tech startup PushBots, on his regrets, his bucket list and his next big project. With a degree in pharmacology and published literary works, the accomplished 25-year-old is many things – just don’t call him a “political activist”.
1. You describe yourself as an “information activist”. What does this mean to you?
By and large, I care about information accessibility, use and consumption. That’s one of the core ideas I build projects around and even businesses. Even my tech startup is about how mobile apps communicate important information to their audience and build loyalty and engagement through that interactivity. It’s also a nice a way of avoiding being called “political activist,” because ever since the emergence of MorsiMeter, media love to frame us as political activists and we are not.
2. You’re a published poet with a pharmacology degree, prominent digital endeavors and now a tech startup under your belt. And you’re only 25. Any regrets?
Like everyone, sometimes I regret certain actions but I’ve learned the hard way to appreciate everything that happens and every decision I take. And I’m a big fan of hitting the unbeaten tracks so that comes with risk of regret and enjoyment hand-in-hand and it’s been always a great deal for me 🙂
3. Name one thing on your bucket list.
My bucket list has only one item: Be happy.
4. Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by anyone who’s able to change something, anyone who’s not self-defeated. On the contemporary front, Elon Musk is a great inspiration for everyone with his determination and futuristic vision – also as someone who is a non-U.S. citizen who has become the legend of the Silicon Valley.
5. Do you have any advice for other aspiring youth out there?
There’s a quote from Mark Twain that I love:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”.
It’s a journey of self-realization and all you know about yourself could turn out to be totally wrong, and you only know that when you are out there doing something out of your comfort zone.
6. Update us on your projects: How is Zabatak going? What will you do with MorsiMeter now that Morsi is gone? What is your end goal with PushBots? And what else are you working on now?
Zabatak is a great learning experience for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of crowd-sourced reporting in emerging democracies and developing countries. We are always experimenting with it.
MorsiMeter was a a precisely timed project that aimed not only to hold the president accountable but also to change the collective mindset of people about the practical aspects of democracy beyond the ballot box.
PushBots is my first business startup and it still revolves around the core idea of information consumption and communication. It helps mobile apps leverage their users’ loyalty and engagement by providing them with relevant bits and pieces of information. We launched a public beta few months ago, and we have great feedback from an audience from around 68 countries already! It’s still evolving and it’s been a great learning experience as well.
7. Give us the scoop on your next big project.
I recently graduated from Singularity University, a highly-selective program at NASA Ames Research Center with the purpose of gathering technology leaders and visionaries to solve humanity’s grand challenges using exponential technologies. Our project is about revolutionizing oral health by killing the tooth brush. We have been working on developing a prototype for what might become a revolutionary device that brushes and flosses in 30 seconds.
Check out the video below to learn about this project, called Archy.