Nisrine El Turky is an entrepreneur and professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the Notre Dame University of Louaize who founded IOTree. Her team is mainly composed by motivated women who want to leave their mark in the field of eco-sustainability.
Interview taken by Riccardo Aimerito within the Maieutics Capital Programme of ERA Kapital whose purpose is to draw attention to brilliant female and male entrepreneurs who have an impact on their communities and create shared value.
Who is Nisrine EL TURKY?
Nisrine El Turky is the founder and CEO of Internet of Trees (IOTree). She is also a professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the Notre Dame University - Louaize.
Prior to her entrepreneurial journey, and as a computer and communications engineer, Nisrine developed a strong technical background and knowledge in the telecommunications, networking and information technology fields. She has led several international projects on the Emulation of Commutation of On-Board Satellite Systems. After many successes, she launched her first company, “Linkline Communications”. Furthermore, Nisrine has more than twelve years of experience in research and development. Initially, she developed her own electronics company, “ElectroNis”, and a university club, “ElectroHolics”. The purpose of her company was to have a positive impact on students and fellow engineers. Subsequently, perceiving the pain and the difficulties that accompany the agricultural sector, Nisrine decided to step in and invent a new device to revive the sector and make life easier for farmers. Thus, she founded IOTree. IOTree has won numerous awards, funds and recognitions on a national, local and international level. Being a serial entrepreneur, Nisrine recently launched her beauty-tech startup, “D by Diva”.
“I thought of using technological tools to solve the problems acquainted in agriculture”
How did you start thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?
I have always had a passion for making an impact on people. This is why I used to enjoy and still enjoy my job as a university professor. While engineering education is a great way to impact many generations, the agricultural crises captured my attention. Thus, given that I work on so many projects, I thought of using technological tools to solve the problems acquainted in agriculture.
What is your entrepreneurial idea and what is your company doing?
IOTree is a smart wireless network of smart traps that are developed using a deep learning algorithm and machine vision designed for early detection, classification and counting of different types of harmful pests. Farmers can benefit from the IOTree app by receiving real-time reports and updates on agricultural best practices to deal with pest invasions.
IOTree is a branch under our umbrella company, Spectre S.A.L.
Spectre S.A.L. provides leading-edge solutions in IoT, AI, and cloud computing to catalyze the agricultural sector. All of our solutions aim to increase production, use agricultural resources more sustainably, reduce crop losses, minimize pesticide use, improve crop quality in order to comply with the EU requirements for export and reduce production costs in the long run.
“We want people to be surrounded by a positive ecosystem capable of providing healthy and affordable products”
What stage of development of your company are you in and what do you think is your competitive advantage and why?
We are currently in the second phase of testing our agricultural products. Many of our customers have deployed them in their orchards and plots, and we are gathering the data to further improve the next releases. We have a competitive advantage over other companies because we are using the right wireless chipsets and technologies that adapt well to agricultural practices. That is, our products have huge power savings and are almost self-sufficient thanks to the fact that they can benefit from solar energy. Moreover, the range and coverage we provide to farmers is not the average Wi-fi used for other conventional services. We are using leading-edge technology to be farmer and plot-friendly.
Tell us a little more about your team and your ambitions.
Our team is mainly made up of women. We are all trying to show the “footprint” left by women in sectors that have previously been hostile to them, like engineering and agriculture. We are leveraging the economic crisis in Lebanon to hire more interns so that we can benefit from new positive energy and help them manage their expenses.
How is the overall situation – in Lebanon and around the world - affecting your company prospects?
Unfortunately, the situation in Lebanon is very bad because the economy has been hit hard. Hyperinflation caused us to lose all the value of our funds. This has also jeopardized our ability to import sensors and chipsets traditionally used to build our devices. Nonetheless, we are not giving up and we are doing our best to turn this crisis to our benefit.
“I have always had a passion for making an impact on people. This is why I used to enjoy and still enjoy my job as a university professor”
What do you think of the COVID-19 emergency and its social impact?
It is true that COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. Nevertheless, for us, it has had a positive impact on the world in two ways. First, it was capable of accelerating the digital transformation. Second, it made people realize how important it is to support the agricultural sector to fulfill people’s needs.
What impact do you and your enterprise want to have?
We want people to be surrounded by a positive ecosystem capable of providing healthy and affordable products. On the other hand, we aim to positively impact the agricultural sector so that farmers and workers don’t lose their jobs. We believe agriculture should be one of the richest and most invested sectors in the world.
What is your inspiration and why?
My inspiration is to set an example for my daughter and the women who know me. Being in the spotlight makes me work harder so that I can share the happiness and pride of what I will achieve. It is beautiful to be part of the change in this world.
What would you recommend to a young female entrepreneur in your region to be successful?
Always believe in yourself despite the obstacles and unfairness by which you will be surrounded. Self-confidence is the key to many hurdles in the way. Also, change your definition of “failure”, failure as you define it is inevitable. Not accepting the results and dwelling on the results is the real failure. Persistence is another key to robustness and durability in this tough world.
“It is beautiful to be part of the change in this world”
Listen to Nisrine speak about Re-inventing Agriculture in this podcast hosted by Espree Devora on #womenintech
Interview & Article by
Nisrine El Turky