The Year That Was: Omar Al Mheiri, Co-founder, Letswork
"Both as a person and as a business, it is so important to be able to bounce back no matter what life throws at you."
As he looks back on how his business -an app that helps people gain access to the best workspaces in the UAE- fared through the course of the year, Letswork co-founder Omar Al Mheiri divides the period into three segments. “The first is Q1 of 2020, our best quarter yet, where we saw exponential growth in the business,” Al Mheiri says. “The pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time, as we were on a phenomenal trajectory, having achieved product-market fit, and getting ready to scale the business abroad.”
As the COVID-19 crisis descended over the UAE, Al Mheiri notes the lockdown periods that followed as having been the year’s second major highlight. It was a time for introspection, he says, while also allowing him and his team the opportunity to focus on fixing some pressing issues that had been ignored for a while. “We redesigned our branding and the app, and explored new products/services,” he remembers.
“The lockdown tested our patience and our ability to ideate growth strategies based on various scenarios, because there was so much uncertainty as to how and when we were going to come out of the lockdown. Difficult decisions had to be taken, and it definitely tested my ability to lead in times of instability.”
But the year’s last few months have offered Al Mheiri and his team at Letswork some respite. “These months were crucial for us to make up for lost time, push a new narrative, and pivot our products to cater to an evolved market. We realized an increased need for privacy and isolation, and now work together with our former competitors in the co-working sector by selling their offices and meeting rooms on our app,” he concludes.
Time for introspection: Omar Al Mheiri, co-founder, Letswork
1/ Agility matters “Being an asset-light business has been a massive blessing for us, as it has helped us the ability to test ideas, evolve, and pivot if necessary, very quickly. We are also inherently very lean as a team, and our flexibility allows us to reassign roles very quickly based on skillsets, interests, and backgrounds. These were key factors that allowed us to respond to the pandemic very quickly, and it is something we will probably maintain as a company going forward too.”
2/ Build your resilience “Both as a person and as a business, it is so important to be able to bounce back no matter what life throws at you. As a small business owner, it can be so easy or tempting to throw the towel in and give up when the going gets tough, but somehow things always work out for the better.”
3/ Focus on your team dynamics “I am extremely grateful to have a truly dedicated and motivated team that gets along well together. Team dynamics is something we take very seriously, because it can either make or break a company. Hire smart, and hire a person not just because of their skillsets, but also if they are a culture fit. Asking yourself, ‘Would you mind being stuck in an elevator with them for three hours?’ is a good starting point!
Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.
Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.