Will the new MAKE Business Hub kill business by charging for WiFi?

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After founder Leith Matthews left MAKE Business earlier this year, (under what many say were difficult circumstances), the coworking/café space has now relaunched with a new model- it's charging for WiFi.

Here's a look at its new pricing system, for those who prefer to work in its workspace, which has desks and plugs: 

  • 39 AED (US $11) for 3 hours of WiFi, 1 hot drinks, and 1 water
  • 99 AED (US $27) for 5 hours of WiFi, 2 hot drinks, a meal, and 1 water.
  • 179 AED (US $49) for a full day of WiFi, which includes 4 hot drinks, 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dessert, 1 water
  • 849 AED (US $240) for 7 days of the full day program above. 

For those ordering food in the dining area, WiFi comes free with the meal, but use is generally limited to one hour per order; if customers want to keep using the WiFi, they can order a coffee or tea, the MAKE staff says (I spoke to a friendly gentleman by the name of Jerome). 

These packages seem a bit expensive for bootstrapping startups, not that spending every day at MAKE or Pavilion is necessarily the best way to save money, but at least at Pavilion, a much larger space located downtown near Burj Khalifa, entrepreneurs or mobile workers can decide for themselves how much they’d like to spend while freely chugging away online.

The packages are likely designed to make MAKE more profitable; a straw poll of some community members revealed that Matthews may have been close to profitability when he left, and that the company’s bottom line was not a source of tension.

Since its closure and reopening, it’s unclear whether MAKE will be able to attract the same crowd, without the MAKE Ignition and Founder’s Dinner series, as well as the wealth of workshops, bootcamps and startup-focused events that made it such a hub for local entrepreneurs. Leith, in the meantime, has taken his community and run with it, launching Restronaut to continue the tradition of bringing founders together over good food.

I haven’t been to check out MAKE's new space yet (hopefully next time I'm in Dubai), but one of the biggest differences is a new menu. Its highlights, Jerome explains, include a burger- “people really like it”- for 50 AED (US $13) and a Wagyu steak pie for 55 AED (US $15).

As demand grows, MAKE will iterate, he says. “We're still thinking about adjustments, but I think it's working, we just need to let people come in and we will make some adjustments on the packages."

Will your startup team be stopping by?

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