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Cappuccinos and creativity in Dubai Marina

Leith Matthews is the founder and managing director of Make Business Hub, a new café and ergonomic work space in Dubai Marina. The 31-year-old Australian-born entrepreneur talks to Craig Hawes about his unique business venture and why it's such an inspirational venue for the city's creative hordes.

  • By Craig Hawes, alpha. magazine
  • Published: 00:00 June 1, 2012
  • alpha

  • Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM
  • In January 2011, Leith began to set the plan for Make into motion.

What's Make all about?

Make is an inspiring urban café in the heart of Dubai Marina that provides an environment for nurturing entrepreneurship and promoting connections between like-minded creatives.

We are an independent venue and believe in young business, big ideas and shaping your own destiny. We aim to create an authentic destination where young entrepreneurs and mobile workers can meet, create and work together.

What is your career background and how did you end up in Dubai?

In 2006, I moved to Dubai with the Hyatt group where I stayed until 2008, which marked my move to Diageo as a brand manager for its luxury spirits portfolio. While there, I began to work on concepts and business plans for opening a restaurant, bar or café for myself. In January 2011, I decided to set the plan for Make into motion. I have a love affair with the food and beverage industry, and even though I had left it I always dreamt of coming back and opening something for myself.

Is this the first project of this kind that you've been involved with?

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On this scale, yes. Formulating the concept and business model, then raising capital to fund it is like explaining your idea for paper wings and then asking someone to jump off a cliff with you to test them - not easy to do! It took some time, but I was lucky and someone was ready to take that leap with me, I'm very grateful that they did!

What made you decide that Dubai, with its rich supply of office space and countless cafés, needed this?

Over the last couple of years I've put together more than my fair share of restaurant and bar business plans. Usually working late from a café or restaurant I started to feel like a venue specifically for someone like me could be the big idea! A place where young business-minded people could work, meet and connect to encourage and inspire entrepreneurship.

Tell us about the décor and the ergonomic work spaces. What exactly makes Make Business Hub a good place to work?

Our uniquely designed workstations feature ergonomically designed chairs and tables with individual electrical connection. Our work pods facilitate private meetings, brainstorming and presentations.

A café with limited electrical outlets, small tables or uncomfortable seating is not a place that inspires creativity or productivity, and it was important for us to overcome those small obstacles that plague mobile workers.

Furthermore, Make is essentially a place for like-minded people to convene… the chance that you will connect with someone to help you further your own idea or venture is very high.

Tell us about the role music plays in the Make experience and the mix tapes that are available on your site.

Make provides a cool, hip and energised environment from which to work and hang out - the music is an important component in creating this atmosphere.

We connect with local taste makers and ask them to pull together a mix tape of the tunes they are listening to right now. We then post it on our website to allow others to download and enjoy.

Do you have any plans to open up another space in the UAE?

The idea has the potential to expand into other locations, and we always have an eye out for great partners and opportunitiesto help us make it happen!

The form

  • If I wasn't doing this I'd be... plotting another independent business launch
  • A person who's had a big influence on my life is my dad… always his own boss
  • A fictional character after my own heart: someone from a Wes Anderson film
  • A word or expression that I use a lot: Make it happen
  • Stuff that I always travel with: iPhone and swimming trunks

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