Ahead of its official opening of the Google Tech Hub Space, AstroLabs Dubai has launched a temporary coworking space in the city with 30 startups on its books.
Announced in 2014, the collaboration with Google is to be the first of its kind in the MENA region, presenting local startups to international markets, as well as bringing international startups to the region. It is expected to open in July in the DMCC Free Zone.
‘’Dubai was the most obvious and ultimate choice for launching the first techhub,” said Michelle Joseph, AstroLabs’ COO. “Because of Dubai’s market potency and ease in both performing business and having market access to the entire MENA region and startup markets, evolving startups are provided with numerous prospects for advancement.”
In addition, Joseph stated: “Our technical hub transformed quickly into a platform for both local and international startups. Such companies, from US, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and Egypt, will move to Dubai and affiliate with our company."
Prior to establishing AstroLabs, founders Louis Lebbos and Mohammad Mekki cofounded Namshi, which serves as a co-partner for Google for Entrepreneurs.
AstroLabs, founded in 2014, itself seeks to create a tech launchpad to back up emergent prospective online startups. Joseph claims that although Dubai housed an outburst of coworking spaces in the last few years, AstroLabs is distinct because it doesn’t serve as a business incubator or traditional accelerator.
To add more clarity, she said: “AstroLabs doesn’t obtain stakes or shares from startups. Yet, this tech startup is presented with a workspace, specialized courses, guidance and synchronization between startup communities. Also, Astrolabs functions as an operational support for licenses.”
For Joseph, the major function of AstroLabs is to fill the gap in the business incubator in order to fulfil the actual and practical needs of online startups. Furthermore, she reveals “We are currently cooperating with Google for Entrepreneurs worldwide. Also, we designed AstroLabs Dubai to function as the paramount workspace for innovative technology-driven startups. This space integrates several features, such as Device Lab designed for mobile application development and a Coding cave for programmers.”
Stretching over 6,500 square feet, AstroLabs, embraces diverse facilities. Besides offering up a workspace at affordable prices, there will be an ‘AstroLabs Academy.’ Joseph says that this academy will “enhance entrepreneurs” expertise, which can be applied directly to their companies in digital marketing, web and mobile analytics, coding, web development and UX/UI design. In fact, AstroLabs Academy will enable entrepreneurs to connect Google’s global network of coworking spaces, in which subject matter experts can be reached and further interrelated areas can be discussed.
Based temporarily at Jumeirah Lake Towers the team has taken on 30 startups. "It is vital to interview all the startups in order to make sure that we select a diverse and cooperative group from the most innovative startups,” Joseph said.
"We are seeking entrepreneurs who are capable of creating a change and broadening their businesses, in order to influence the region and the world. It is of major importance to form a cooperative environment.” Indeed, applicants are asked what trait or skill they would be willing to share with the group. “Such a quality might be knowledge, skills, interactions, a sense of humor or sweets prepared by your grandmother [...] our members must be active contributors rather than mere benefit seekers from work space.”
Since its launch AstroLabs has supported more than 100 startups in the MENA region through a program called Scaling Online Startups. This platform aims at accelerating growth rate; as well as hosting events in Dubai, Oman and Riyadh.
Here are two of the startups starting at AstroLabs.
Founded by South African Amit Ramdath, ImpressMe is a recruitment platform that substitutes the traditional CV with a 60 second video clip. “ImpressMe provides employers with first impressions of potential candidates,” said Ramdath. “This application supplies employers with information relevant to the candidates’ skills and employment history that are published by job seekers through incorporating social networks."
Enthusiastic to become a member of AstroLabs Dubai and to transform this experience into a success story Ramdath said that “regarding our future plans, we will launch the initial version. We are carrying out a study on the number of employees who should move from South Africa and the number of people who ought to be employed.” They are also networking with companies in the same field to to look at creating a local presence.
"We were impressed by the organized speed of growth [...] We believe in progress and the achievement of matters competently and efficiently. We are also convinced that AstroLabs Dubai is the suitable platform for such growth.”
“I applied to this tech hub due to several reasons, such as multiple opportunities for networking, communication, partnerships with both Google and DMCC Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, the ease of creating the company and working locally,” said Miguel Munoz Gonzalez-Adalid.
The Etihad Airways pilot and his cofounder Alberto Perez, have created a platform that offers air crew shopping discounts during their stops around the world. Currently developing their app after receiving angel investment they are also looking for offers and prospective customers, and are hoping to launch in May 2016.“We are impressed by the division of work-stations. In other words, AstroLabs is greatly aware of the needs of startups. Thus, we want to rely on such a structure and develop jointly.”