Every week, ILQ features a different Qatari startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha, from fashion and beauty to food and dining, health, education, and more!
This week, we're featuring THIRDSPACE - Qatar’s first local co-working community and space. A co-working space is a shared space where start-ups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers can work, collaborate, be part of a community and build their businesses.
According to Shaikha Al-Thani, the founder of THIRDSPACE, the name is derived from the community building philosophy of Third Place. "The philosophy says that the home is the first place you spend most of your time in, work is the second place and the third place is where you spend your time between the two. It’s a place where you connect, socialize and find your community."
When asked about the relevance of THIRDSPACE to Qatar, Shaikha replied: "The number of start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world and especially in Qatar are growing and we are starting to become more aware here of their needs. Most start-ups need access - access to funding, exposure, a network, knowledge, and affordable space. Co-working spaces such as THIRDSPACE offers access to these all under 1 roof."
ILQ also asked Shaikha how the idea for THIRDSPACE came about.
"I was living in New York where I was a member of a co-working space for 3 years. After moving back to Qatar, I struggled to find an adequate and inspiring place to work from as an entrepreneur or people I could connect and collaborate with. I knew that if I had this challenge others would too, so I started to ask people about it and sure enough I wasn’t the only one. This is what motivated me to start a co-working space in Qatar."
"We launched in October 2019 and we started off by hosting co-working pop-ups for THIRDSPACE members in coffee shops around Qatar. We wanted to validate the co-working concept in Qatar as well as start growing our community. In a very short amount of time, our community grew to over 100 members and because the response has been so positive we are expediting our plans to secure a permanent location so THIRDSPACE (the co-working space) can become a reality -- many people are waiting for us and I can’t let them down!"
What separates THIRDSPACE from similar businesses in Qatar is that THIRDSPACE IS not a business center with some office equipment or an isolated and expensive office, rather it is a collaborative workspace designed for members to thrive so they can build their businesses.
"THIRDSPACE is community-driven, where members feel like they are part of a greater collective and are 3x more likely to grow their network. We are programmatic; we offer regular programs in the form of talks, networking opportunities, organic mentorship opportunities to inspire our members and help them navigate the murky waters of starting a business. We are wellness driven, we design a space around our members to ensure that they have everything they need to enhance productivity and get the most out of their day."
Unlike business centers and leased offices, THIRDSPACE understandS the needs of start-ups and entrepreneurs (being one ourselves) so rather than a fixed lease, members are offered affordable and flexible memberships that adapt as they grow.
Shaikha also shared what customers like about THIRDSPACE:
"There are many people that are curious about the idea of co-working, it’s a pretty new concept here for most, but once we tell them about it they are instantly intrigued and want to be part of it."
"I think what the community likes about us is that we are approachable and personal, we are not a big brand. THIRDSPACE started with a base community that has been growing and has been part of this journey with me. I’ve been involving them from the start in the building of this concept and will continue to involve them, this is really what helps us create an environment where they can all thrive."
"It’s so enriching to see the concept come to life in the pop-ups and the connections that are made. I’ve witnessed friendships, people getting hired for freelance jobs, mentorship and a group rallying together around another member’s concept."
THIRDSPACE also sought help from a startup incubation on the development of the company. Shaikha said, "When I first had the idea last year, I joined QBIC’s 10-week LeanStartup program, they were very helpful in providing me the structure and accountability to move THIRDSPACE from an idea to an MVP which I can now grow into an established business."
Shaikha believes that startups are beneficial to Qatar's economic growth. She adds, "Without a doubt. Co-working spaces are anchors of many countries’ economic growth. They support the start-up ecosystem by aggregating all the individual start-ups and give them a centralized hub where they can organically grow, have access to peer-support, resources, exposure, and a network. This is what is currently missing in Qatar’s efforts to support start-ups to close the loop of the ecosystem and I’m very proud that THIRDSPACE is the first local co-working space that will pave the way for many more to come."
And this is her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
Two pieces of advice that have helped me:
1- Have a north star - your mission, your moonshot, your why. Use that as your compass to stay grounded in the core of your idea and why you started it in the first place
2- Learn discipline early on - motivation is fleeting and the honeymoon phase of having a cool new idea will run out. This is when the discipline come in, it helps you keep the momentum going on the days where you feel like it’s too hard
THIRDSPACE is in the process of securing a permanent location and is counting the days until we are open. In the meantime, we host free co-working pop-ups once a month for our members in different locations in Qatar. In the pop-up, you can expect to be in a co-working environment where you can get work done, meet and connect with other start-ups and entrepreneurs, get some guidance and feel good about working with a group of like-minded individuals.
Become a member of THIRDSPACE to lock-in Early Access for the co-working space: www.thirdspaceqa.com
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