CARRYING THE BATON

Qatar 2019 | QATAR NATIONAL VISION 2030 | INTERVIEW

As one of the largest incubators in the region, QBIC is leading the charge to connect bright young aspiring entrepreneurs with the right mentors to guide them.

Aysha Al Mudahka
BIOGRAPHY
Aysha Al Mudahka has been CEO of Qatar Business Incubation Center, a leading mixed-use business incubation center in the MENA region, since July 2014. Leading a team of professionals devoted to supporting local entrepreneurs, QBIC’s mission is to develop the next QAR100 million companies in Qatar. Recently completing her executive MBA at HEC Paris, Al Mudahka has a strong academic background in business. Listed as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Woman by CEO Middle East Magazine, she began her career working at the Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Finance and Business Academy. Working her way up, she served as Executive Director of INJAZ Qatar, where she remains a board member to this day.

What have been the latest developments at QBIC?

We launched the QBIC Fab Lab in February 2018, a space for engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs to design their products with the lab's machinery. This lab has the latest design and fabrication technologies, and has a great team running it. One of the start-ups from QBIC-ibTECHar manages the space, which is open to the public. Students and entrepreneurs from across the ecosystem, including our own incubatees, all use this space to develop and test prototypes of their products. In addition to this, we celebrated the 10th wave of our flagship Lean Start-Up Program. During Demo Day, we will graduate the start-ups from our ten-week program and choose the start-ups that will receive incubation funding for the coming two years. After four years, we have incubated over 129 companies and graduated more than 370 entrepreneurs. More than USD1.2 million has been invested in these companies, and they generated revenues above USD7.4 million. We have also launched a pop-up store at The Gate Mall, which is a space for start-ups to showcase and sell their creations.

How does QBIC work to align its strategy with Qatar National Vision 2030?

We are fortunate to be part of the Qatar Development Bank and the mandate to target private companies in this economy. All four of the pillars of the vision are headed in that direction. One of the things we do in terms of human capital is provide the skills that citizens need to be entrepreneurs. This is a major contribution toward the vision, and we are proud to be involved in supporting and maintaining the national vision and the economy.

How do you measure and evaluate feedback from entrepreneurs in the program?

We have an excellent portal that helps facilitate both feedback and feedback assessment. The feedback period starts from the moment one applies and continues until they graduate. It includes many of the processes that are needed for the two years they are at QBIC. We also work closely with entrepreneurs as they work toward meeting their milestones. The Lean Start-Up Program focuses on achieving customer validation and developing a MVP; these processes are extremely feedback-oriented, and there is a great deal of give and take with entrepreneurs. Once they have validated the first three months of incubation, they start working on activating the company and ensuring it is operational. In terms of incubated start-ups, each company has a set of unique milestones, but we usually like to see some sales and customer traction within the first few months. We also work closely with start-ups in terms of connecting them with investors, when they are ready for it. At QBIC, we practice what we preach; we learn from feedback and develop solutions the best way we can. If there are challenges, we try to adapt to ensure that we are delivering the best content and support services for local start-ups.

As one of the largest incubators in the region, what are some of the programs QBIC offers?

The Lean Start-Up Program is our flagship program, and we have been working on it since QBIC's inception in 2014. It accounts for the largest number of entrepreneurs moving through this program. We also have the Mix and Match Program, which connects non-Qatari entrepreneurs with potential Qatari partners in hopes of establishing a local start-up. Our speaker series allows successful entrepreneurs from Qatar, the region, and beyond to share their knowledge and insights with local aspiring entrepreneurs to encourage them to start their own success story. Earlier this year we hosted the co-founder of Kickstarter, Charles Adler, a tremendously successful session.