Startups

UAE’s ‘Share This Space’ wants to become Airbnb of commercial spaces

Ten years ago when Brian Chesky & Joe Gebbia created a simple landing page called AirBedNBreakfast to earn some quick cash by renting out some airbeds inside their apartment, they had no idea that the very same AirBedNBreakfast (now Airbnb) would go onto become a $31 billion company causing headache to some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry. They were called crazy to even consider the possibility of building a platform where people rent out their places to strangers and rightly so.

It was a crazy idea back then. But now things have changed. From expensive clothes to tools and equipment, people (and businesses) are renting out just anything to make few extra bucks.

Share This Space, a Dubai-based startup wants to follow the same model and become the Airbnb of commercial spaces. Launched in 2016, Share This Space’s platform allows businesses to rent out their commercial spaces for short-terms. It could be a small passage, a small room or just anything that could be used for events, popups, short-term retail and promotions.

The best part of the whole thing is that businesses are not essentially renting out the spaces that are unused but just anything they could manage to give away even for an hour. Share This Space allows them to rent out these spaces for as less as an hour with one month as the maximum period.

Shahzad Bhatti, the founder of Share This Space thought of the idea after launching his  The Co-Working Popup, his own co-working space in Dubai. He noticed that there’s a big demand for short term rentals

“I had the chance to work with startups from different of industries for the past five years and found early on that many of the smaller companies couldn’t find flexible and affordable ways to sell or promote their products or services,” he told MENAbytes. “After launching my first venture,  The Co-Working Popup, one of the first co-working spaces in Dubai, I learned the importance of the sharing economy and translated this from the office space to the retail and event space.”

For businesses, brands or individuals renting the space, its an affordable and quick solution. They can browse through the listings, select the space they like, request to book it by sharing some details and use the space after making the payment online if the booking gets confirmed by the business that’s renting it out. The booking requests are responded within 24 hours with acceptance, rejection or request for more information.

The bookings are not entirely automated because it’s a B2B platform and sometimes a business may not want to rent out their space to specific brand or a specific event for different reasons.

The platform currently has over 200 spaces listed and has 2,500 registered users, many of whom have already made bookings. But just like any other platform, one of Share This Space’s biggest challenge has been “getting users to trust and use the technology they have created,” Shahzad noted. “Many users still prefer to call and meet which defeats the purpose of using our brilliant technology. But as with any app or platform once they have used us a few times they are more likely to do it alone.”

But that hasn’t stopped Share This Space in signing up some of some of the biggest malls, retailers, and event airports in Dubai, who are using the platform to rent out their spaces.

The startup makes money by charging 10% commission on every successful booking and has been averaging $30,000 of booked spaces for the last few months.

Share This Space is currently raising $250,000 in equity crowdfunding through Dubai-based Eureeca that has previously helped startups like elGrocer and Nabbesh raise investment.

“We have a strong network of partners and users who really believe in our idea and want to be part of our journey. Using crowdfunding to raise capital is an excellent way to share our future success with them,” Shahzad told us.

The startup aims to use the investment to hire a bigger team, further development of their product, and marketing efforts to expand into other markets beyond Dubai.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Riyadh. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.

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