“We are a family of believers; people who truly and passionately believe in the purpose of Cubical Services and in the vision we have.”
When founding Cubical Services in 2009, Abdulrahman Jassem Al Fawaz and his two cousins had Kuwait’s economic future in mind. Now, nine years later, the company has eleven partners, all passionate about entrepreneurship, and all focused on their mission and purpose.
Read on to discover how their unique business incubator can help you fulfill your business potential.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Abdulrahman Jassem Al Fawaz. Kuwaiti. Founding partner and CEO of Cubical Services.
Born 28th September 1983. Graduated from Kuwait University in 2005 as a Finance major.
My vision was to enter and study the corporate life as much as I can and to simply maximize my learning curve. I was interested to learn about how to manage teams, how different departments synergize, how companies communicate internally and externally, how to set targets and budgets, and how to maintain motivation in a team.
I worked for six years in the investment sector working my way through different positions and then co-founded Cubical Services.
Cubical Services is my passion! I care about the Kuwaiti economy, especially currently, as we recognize that to have a stable economy there needs to be a balanced set of diverse elements that contribute to our economy. As many know, over 90% of Kuwait’s economy is reliant on Oil and Gas. With today’s world focus on renewable energy, Kuwait’s future is in a risky situation. This is why I believe in what we are doing and in the importance of entrepreneurship.
Tell us about Cubical Services. When did it officially open?
Cubical Services was established in 2009. It is Kuwait’s first officially licensed, independent, one-stop business incubator, and the first to be qualified by the National Fund in February 2017. Cubical Services strives to actively encourage current and potential entrepreneurs to successfully execute their business ambitions by offering all-inclusive services and support in every part of the business cycle to create a healthy ecosystem where entrepreneurs can fulfill their business potential in order to enrich the Kuwaiti economy and elevate its talents regionally and internationally.
Since its launch, Cubical Services has worked on over 550 projects and with over 1,000 entrepreneurs ranging from fully implementing the business to managing the full operations of an established business, and gained experience in the following industries: Business Services, Consumer Services, Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, Media and Entertainment, Non-profit, Real Estate and Construction, Retail, Fashion, Software and Internet, Food and Beverage, and Wholesale and Distribution.
What problem did you originally hope to solve by starting Cubical Services?
In 2008, two of my cousins, Abdulrahman Al Nouri and Mijbel Al Qattan, and I considered starting our own business in a different field. Along the journey of challenges we faced with government processes, licensing, legalities and regulations, paperwork and more, we discovered firsthand that an entrepreneur’s journey is faced with many obstacles that slow down and distract from their main focus and from building the core of their business, resulting in a discouraging environment. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to be the change we want to see by providing solutions to these challenges through tools and services. Initially, we established in 2009 with workspaces and simple services and then gradually developed Cubical Services into what is today, a full-fledged licensed business incubator with over 40 different services.
Although we launched Cubical Services as three cousins, we learned that our vision cannot be realized if we cannot reflect it on driven and passionate Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. To do this, Cubical Services decided to take a number of actions: One action was to bring entrepreneurs on board the Cubical Services family, and this is why and how we grew from three to the eleven partners we have today. We also decided to establish partnerships with entrepreneurs, collaborate and build strategic alliances based on mutual benefits. In the future, we plan for Cubical Services to both create and adopt a diverse set of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with specialized services who can serve each other in an efficient and supportive manner.
In the midst of our increasing exposure to talented entrepreneurs and ambitious SMEs, we discovered that these talents have the potential to shine, not only locally, but regionally and internationally. As a result, we aim to uncover opportunities for Kuwaiti businesses to take their SMEs abroad and have the confidence to compete on international standards.
What are the main services offered by Cubical Services?
Cubical Services takes a customer-centric and a market-driven approach, meaning that our services are constantly developing and adjusting to the current needs of the market in order to make sure that our services stay relevant to our clients and to entrepreneurs. As a result, Cubical Services has developed four different divisions all serving the entrepreneurship ecosystem through their specialized services.
Currently, our main services relate to assisting entrepreneurs to plan, implement and operate their business from starting a business from scratch, to growth. This includes brainstorming and concept development, creating business plans and financial projections, government and ministry work, searching and communicating with appropriate vendors and more. We also offer outsourced add-on services such as book-keeping and accounting set-up, legal services, marketing services, construction services and more.
Additionally, our other divisions offer training and program creation focused on increasing entrepreneurship awareness and knowledge; property management, tenant mix optimization and event management, and creating industry specific incubation programs.
What makes Cubical Services unique?
To start, being the first licensed business incubator and the first incubator qualified by the National Fund, has allowed Cubical Services to gain extensive experience in the Kuwaiti market. This has led Cubical Services to create a strong network and to have expert know-how through a learning-by-doing approach.
Cubical Services has an enthusiastic, professional atmosphere. This means that we are very driven and friendly with our clients and our work is always professional. We are a family of believers; people who truly and passionately believe in the purpose of Cubical Services and in the vision we have.
How do you create a community?
To answer this, we must first define what a community is: I like to explain it as a group of people who complete each other through different methods and services that serve each other’s needs.
We know that if we want to create or develop a specific community in a particular industry, we need to first identify who are the current players, highlight what their needs are and what are the gaps that need to be filled and served. Then we divide and organize them and find entrepreneurs to serve and fill these gaps. Together, they create a community.
What are the hardest things about running Cubical Services?
Entrepreneurship as a subject, and the SME industry in general, have both recently grasped the spotlight. Many people are still learning about entrepreneurship, SMEs, what incubators and venture capitals are, terminologies, definitions and concepts, and so on. With this, the private and government sectors in Kuwait are still working together to clarify what are the roles the government should take on, and what are the roles the private sector should take on to ensure that they complete each other in an efficient and effective manner to achieve their common vision.
Another point is that an entrepreneur’s journey is a race against time. So as the industry is a new booming industry, it is taking time to digest processes and procedures. There are many great initiatives being proposed that we are waiting to see implemented.
On the business side, what has proved to be the hardest part of running a business incubator?
As an incubator, we deal with entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are always passionate people. Our role is to execute their passions and to execute these passions without obstacles and limitations, the law needs to be more flexible. Entrepreneur ideas are often creative, meaning they are new and innovative and may not exist yet in the current market. If it takes three years to digest a new concept and idea, the enthusiasm of these entrepreneurs will die down.
Are there some success stories from Cubical Services that you’re particularly proud of?
To begin with, we believe that the ideas of entrepreneurs are their own property and therefore, do not disclose our clients nor their ideas, as that is their own personal success.
I am proud of Cubical Services, our team and their success in helping people. An incubator’s business model is not a usually a profitable one, therefore the drive of our team comes from purpose and impact, and our purpose is to enhance the economy and ecosystem by utilizing driven entrepreneurs. Our team, including myself, enjoys helping people follow their passions and seeing them succeed. Indeed, no amount can be given for the feeling of an entrepreneur stating that without you, without Cubical Services, their dreams would have not happened.
What are some of the projects you are working on?
As mentioned above, Cubical Services promise complete confidentiality to all of our clients. However, we are working on different projects that have been in the pipeline of each department and division; each collaborating with different parties and each having different strategic alliances.
One project we are working on is the development of The Soapbox in partnership with The Promenade, which is a new and unique retail incubator and our first pilot project of many more to come falling under the real-estate service of bridging the gap between landlords and entrepreneurs through property management, event planning, optimization tenant mixes, and more. The planned grand launch is for September, so mark your calendars, and we will be more than happy to see you there. You are more than welcome to pass by. You can learn more on the website: www.soapboxkw.com
We have also been working on planning and launching our first industry specific incubation program which will be related to the creative and media industry, focusing on content creation, where we they will take on about 25 entrepreneurs who wish to start their businesses in the media industry. These entrepreneurs will be offered all non-core services including offices and workspaces, intensive technical and entrepreneurial training for world-known brands, all business services such as book-keeping, legalities, IT Support and more.
Other initiatives we are working on relate to research and statistics, plus another project related to creating greater entrepreneurial impact on a shorter term basis in which we are working with Kuwait Economic Society.
And of course, last but certainly not least, we are preparing for the 4th edition of our beloved Fikra Program.
Tell us more about the Fikra program.
Under the kind patronage of H.E. Khaled Al Roudan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Fikra Program is a free intensive 6-month training program dedicated to providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools they need to start their own businesses. The program provides many benefits such as training, idea enhancement, networking opportunities, comprehensive business planning, investment opportunities, one on one mentorship, GCC expansion opportunities, media exposure and much more to help the entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
Fikra Program 3rd Edition was proudly supported by Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, The National Fund for SME Development, Al-Hamra Real Estate Company, Ali Abdulwahab Al-Mutawa
Commercial Company, Gulf Bank, Markaz Financial Center, Al Sayer Group – Lexus, and Grand Cinemas and is managed by Cubical Services Business Incubator.
Fikra Program 4th Edition will launch in October 2018 and we invite aspiring entrepreneurs to be a part of Fikra Program by applying on our website www.fikraprogram.com
How many startups have benefited from the Fikra program so far?
Fikra Program, 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions combined, accepted 45 business ideas, provided 57 training sessions and trained 76 entrepreneurs. The 3rd edition received over 350 applications in which 15 unique business ideas were selected. We are proud that following the 3rd edition of Fikra Program, which ended in April 2018, over 40% of the participating entrepreneurs have successfully established their own businesses.
What are your future plans?
At the beginning of Cubical Services’ growth, the team sat down to draw the path and direction in which Cubical Services will follow. We divided our vision path into three eras, each of which consist of seven years, each of which are mid-term ambitions of which each have their own objectives. Each mid-term ambition guides us towards our vision while keeping us focused on our mission and purpose.
With the help and the strength of the team, these mid-term ambitions were made possible and the goals for the first era, which ended in 2017, were achieved. Looking to the future we have the goals for the second era, ending in 2024, which we are currently working for, and further down the journey are the goals set for 2031. The goals of 2024 include mid-term ambitions such as to: A. Enhance the company’s position and to maximize our operations. B. Diversify the sources of income and the ability of the Kuwaiti market. C. Extend the operation of the company to sub-regional markets including Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia; and then expand further to regional markets such as Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, and Morocco; and D. Enter into four new sectors in addition to the services sector: Creative, Environment (green energy), Technology and Investment, and Education.
The team is well on the way and 2018 has been a great starting point for 2024 goals and a smooth and exciting continuation of the first era.