Business has been booming recently in our region. Dubai is witnessing a rapid growth in startups and SME’s. At the Hamdan Innovation Incubator launch event, we interviewed Lena Al Kayed, Senior Specialist at Hamdan Innovation Incubator.
Can you tell about this incubator?
Hamdan Innovation Incubator (Hi2) is part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development. We have over 11 years of experience with incubators in Dubai. We have over 450 graduate companies from our program throughout the past 10 years. We launched Hi2 to widen the idea of incubators in general. We currently have a space of 20,000 sq ft worth of space and we have worked to evolve the services we provide. From there the idea of this initiative was born to bring it in a way that copes with current business trends. Our concentration is currently in the services, ICT, health, media, and design sectors. We also accept ideas from different sectors.
Who are the entrepreneurs that come up to you?
From our past experience, entrepreneurs that came up to us were aged 30 and above. They usually had the financials covered, their business plan ready, and just wanted to start. Our main goal now is to welcome the younger generation. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum is this generation’s role model. This is why the main initiative was under his name; to attract millenials.
With your experience in this field, do you see potential in today’s entrepreneurs?
Ofcourse, the potential is really high. The mistake many entrepreneurs face is thinking all they need is a business plan. This is not the case in reality. Our plan with our incubator is to get in touch with them and walk them through the whole process step by step. Many entrepreneurs have an idea but fail to monetize it and turn it into a business. For those people, we have “Idea Lab”. We help them build their business model and see the potential it holds. Another stage would be starting from nothing. We would help the entrepreneur start and provide all the necessary services for 3 years in the incubator. We work on helping the entrepreneur build the perfect execution plan. Throughout those 3 years, we always follow up on a regular basis to make sure the business plan is being implemented smoothly. We also provide seed capital for UAE locals.
What are your plans for the next 5 years?
Hamdan Innovation Incubator plans to be the authority supervising incubators in the UAE. We have brought a trade license that goes under “incubator” and we will be the authority supervising it. We want to reach the largest amount of young entrepreneurs and provide more incubators. We have already signed a contract with the Higher Colleges of Technology in lieu of that plan. We are also in negotiations with Zayed University. We are planning to build the biggest network of incubators under the administration of Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
I have realized that many entrepreneurs have the fear of not having enough capital, facing legal issues, and dealing with the Ministry of Labor. Don’t think of these fears as it will just slow you down. Go past those fears and come to us. We are ready to help you with your business in the simplest and most cost effective ways. Don’t make money a barrier as long as you believe in your idea.