From Crypto to Metaverse: Co-Founder and COO Alfred Manasseh on Shaffra's Journey to Revolutionize the Workplace

From Crypto to Metaverse: Co-Founder and COO Alfred Manasseh on Shaffra's Journey to Revolutionize the Workplace

Alfred Manasseh, Co-Founder and COO of Shaffra, shares the remarkable journey of his company, from its inception during the COVID-19 pandemic to becoming a trailblazer in the metaverse and AI industries. Originally conceived as a crypto trading platform, Shaffra pivoted to create virtual offices and workplaces, leveraging the burgeoning potential of the metaverse. With a focus on innovation and the integration of emerging technologies, Alfred and his team have navigated various challenges and transformations, ultimately shaping Shaffra into a dynamic force poised to redefine how companies operate in the digital age.

In this interview, Alfred discusses the evolution of Shaffra, the future of AI and the metaverse, and the company's vision for revolutionizing the workplace.

Could you share the story behind Shaffra's founding and what inspired its creation?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a collective search for new and exciting ventures. I frequently connected with university friends via Zoom, and we brainstormed the idea of a crypto trading business.

The name "Shaffra" is derived from colloquial Arabic, meaning "code."

Initially, we aimed to create a crypto trading platform. However, as we delved deeper, we noticed existing platforms like Rain, Coin MENA, Coinbase, and BitOasis. We decided to differentiate ourselves by developing a virtual office for crypto traders to engage in trading. Our co-founder and CTO, Marc, an avid gamer, proposed creating our virtual world. This led us to pivot our focus from crypto trading to developing virtual offices and workplaces. This shift occurred just before the crypto crash in early 2021. Since then, we've continued to innovate in the metaverse space, incorporating AI avatars as virtual employees and developing our AI trainer for faster product deployment.

Could you explain what Shaffra offers and tell us more about your latest product, "AI Trainer"?

Shaffra is on a mission to revolutionize how companies operate by focusing on workflows, workforce, and workplaces. We use proprietary technology, including metaverse and AI, to automate workflows, create AI employees, and develop digital work environments. Our AI Trainer humanizes AI by understanding and generating speech, facilitating actions, and enhancing productivity. We have deployed products like AI-powered recruiters, performance management systems, and sales workflows. The AI Trainer integrates various technologies to improve efficiency and collaboration between AI and human employees.


AI Trainer - Creating a new job post

How do you envision the AI and metaverse industries evolving in the next five years?

In the rapidly evolving fields of AI and the metaverse, five years is a long time. Technology becomes obsolete almost monthly. For AI, there are numerous applications, the most known being language models like OpenAI's GPT and Gemini.

The future will see AI focusing more on machine learning, understanding human behavior, and improving through feedback. The human workforce will likely shift towards creative and critical thinking roles, as repetitive tasks get automated.

This mirrors past technological shifts, such as the rise of the internet and web development. The metaverse will continue integrating emerging technologies, providing new ways to interact with information and data.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in establishing Shaffra in the MENA region, and how did you overcome them?

We were fortunate to be in Dubai, which provided a supportive environment for our venture. We considered various locations, including N5 and ADGM, but ultimately chose DIFC due to its excellent programs promoting innovative companies.

The Innovation Hub at DIFC has been instrumental in helping us establish and grow Shaffra, providing support and facilitating government approvals.

What are Shaffra's primary revenue streams, and how do you plan to diversify them in the future?

Shaffra operates on a SaaS model, offering subscription-based services to ensure continuous technology evolution. Initially targeting government entities and large corporations, we are now making our solutions more accessible to SMEs and entrepreneurs. Our goal is to create user-friendly, no-code solutions that can be utilized without extensive technical support.


What differentiates your offerings from other similar products in the regional market?

Shaffra distinguishes itself by creating AI employees who work alongside human employees, utilizing existing internal systems rather than replacing them. Unlike other solutions that require businesses to adopt new platforms, our AI employees integrate seamlessly with current workflows, enhancing efficiency without disrupting established processes.

The metaverse, like AI, is evolving rapidly. While it has found success in gaming, its potential extends far beyond. We view the metaverse as a platform for converging emerging technologies, including AI, VR, AR, and 3D. As these technologies mature, the metaverse will have a significant impact on daily life and work, offering new ways to interact with data and information.


Candidate applying and going through the 1st level interview

Can you share any insights or predictions on the impact of the metaverse on traditional industries like banking and real estate?

The metaverse will revolutionize traditional industries by enhancing automation, efficiency, and customer interactions. In banking, it could eliminate the need for physical branches, allowing customers to interact with AI and human employees in virtual environments. Healthcare could see similar advancements, with virtual consultations and improved patient experiences. The metaverse will drive faster, more efficient services across various sectors.

How has your previous work experience influenced your operational strategy at Shaffra?

As an industrial engineer, my education focused on optimizing processes and improving efficiency. My work experience in companies like Air Canada and Brightstar involved transforming traditional systems to meet modern standards. This background in change management and process optimization has been crucial in developing Shaffra's innovative solutions.

Which key skills from your industrial engineering background have been most valuable in your role at Shaffra?

Industrial engineering skills, such as process optimization and workflow analysis, have been instrumental in making businesses more efficient. Understanding how to streamline operations and reduce inefficiencies has been a core part of my role at Shaffra, allowing us to create impactful solutions for our clients.

Can you share a significant challenge you faced early in your career and how it shaped your professional development?

Early in my career, I faced the challenge of implementing changes in a unionized environment at Air Canada. Convincing people to embrace change required demonstrating clear benefits and use cases. This experience taught me the importance of buy-in and understanding the needs of the end-users, a principle that guides Shaffra's approach to developing user-centric solutions.

What are your long-term goals for Shaffra, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Shaffra aims to re-engineer the way companies work, shaping the future of business operations. Our goal is to lead the integration of emerging technologies, creating innovative solutions that enhance efficiency and productivity. By staying at the forefront of technological advancements and continuously evolving our offerings, we aim to drive the future of work and support our clients in their journey toward greater success.

Watch the interview:

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Maryam Pervez

Written by Maryam Pervez

Maryam is the Managing Editor at HiDubai, bringing 8+ years of expertise in marketing, social media, and content development. She holds a Master's degree in Marketing Comms from Middlesex University.
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