The AWP Network met with the Founder of CapitalSquare Workspace Solutions Limited, Modupe Macaulay. Based in Lagos, Nigeria – CapitalSquare offers an affordable co-working space for professionals, startups, and small businesses. With competitive pricing options, its welcoming community suits many customers. Founder and CEO, Modupe Macaulay earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Covenant University and a Master of Science degree in Management from Warwick Business School. In this interview, Macaulay talks about how she got started and shares her plans to grow the business.
How did you come up with the name of this business?
The more I thought about a business name, I realized that I wanted something both serious and laid back. I wanted a name that made people think of commerce, activity, and people. I selected several names but could not decide on one because they were not the right fit, then I began to think about various cities and hubs of business activity. I immediately thought of the name “Square,” but then felt that I needed to add another name to “Square,” and “Capital” seemed like the right choice. Hence the final decision to give my company the name, CapitalSquare – yes, it’s one word, not two.
What inspired you to start this company?
I had just graduated from university when I started CapitalSquare. I was looking for work and trying to start a business at the time same time. A friend and I began to look for an affordable and cheerful place to work from. We hoped to find a place but we could not find anything that worked. We lived at opposite ends of town, so working from home was a no-go; cafes and fast food places were too noisy and just not right for work; renting a conventional office was too expensive, and there were too many other things to think about (power, utilities, furnishing, etc); serviced offices were too pricey and not made for small businesses. We did find 1 or 2 startup incubators, but they were mainly focused on technology startups. There was obviously a gap in the market for a professional but laid back, and affordable working environment for professionals, startups, and small businesses. I decided to do something about it and launched CapitalSquare.
Who is your target market?
Small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs of any age, in any industry.
How have you financed the idea?
All of my financing has been from my family.
What is your competitive edge?
The community – that’s the first thing I think about. I like to say that CapitalSquare isn’t just a workspace or an office; it is about a community of people who want to strive for excellence. In this part of the world, it is difficult to find people who genuinely want to be the best at what they do and provide value. We are different; we provide value. We always want our members to be happy, we want things to work, and if anything goes wrong we fix it as soon as we can.
What is the long-term plan for your business?
We plan to provide private serviced offices for people who need them – we are working on that now. Our goal is to have 5 or 6 private offices ready before the end of the year. Eventually, I would like to have more co-working spaces in other parts of Lagos and Nigeria – maybe even internationally. The vision is that CapitalSquare will become the top solution provider for small businesses in Nigeria.
What challenges do you face?
Getting the space ready – renovation, remodeling, getting good service providers, etc. Also, marketing and getting the word out about the business.
What key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
1. Starting a business is hard work,
2. In Nigeria, things will always go wrong, so always have a plan B,
3. Business is about people; so work hard to train and develop them.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
Look inwards. You will find something you can do that won’t cost much and might help you get the money for something bigger.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
Get rid of the mentality that you need to push others down to go up. Life doesn’t work that way.
How many jobs have you created so far?
So far, I have hired 3 permanent staff, I have also hired 2 people on a contract basis.
How has technology enhanced your business idea?
Technology has made running my business very easy. I found this really cool subscription system that helps us manage the space – users bookings, invoicing, communications, everything. We also use a lot of technology based services for different aspects of the business, from CRM to accounting and HR.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
Remember that nothing is impossible and that there are no worthless ideas. Pursue your dreams with boldness.