Interview with D-Town Enterprises CEO Rowdha AlSakit
Since a very young age, Rowdha AlSakit had a passion for creation, and always knew that she would be in the business of design. Hailing from a family with deep roots in construction and architecture, she was able to experience first hand the workings of major projects including Dubai International Airport and mega shopping malls, and upon completing her education at the Domus Academy in Milan, she established herself as an entrepreneur following the footsteps of her family. By the end of 2013, Rowdha established her first enterprise called D-Town Living and today, still in her 20’s, she runs six companies under the D-Town Enterprises umbrella, a group of corporations that has completed over 110 residential and commercial projects in just two years. In this interview with Tharawat Magazine, D-Town Enterprises CEO Rowdha AlSakit shares her unique entrepreneurial journey in the world of materials and design.
Tell us about your company‘s beginnings. What motivated you to take on such an entrepreneurial journey?
I grew up in the passionate city of Dubai, where we are encouraged to dream big and race to deliver! I am so grateful to have the great leadership example set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and to be surrounded by family members who are entrepreneurs, business people, and innovators in many fields.
My grandparents were a great influence for me. One was a tireless educational mentor – Mohammed AlSakit – who developed the base of the educational field in the UAE, and the other – Hassan Rashid Al Abbar – was a visionary pioneer in the architectural development of Dubai. I believe I inherited from them the urge to create something new, and I think that this urge will last for future generations and add value to our society.
While I was still at school finishing my degree in Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I started working on my own and won an interior design project. This was a big project so I hired two people to help me out and that was how D-Town began.
What is D-Town Enterprises and what kind of work does it do?
We first started the company as D-Town Living, which was dedicated to interior design, engineering, and project management. We took on private projects such as villas, commercial projects such as hospitality and office design, and also worked on retail and moveable structures.
Nowadays, D-Town Enterprises is comprised of a number of entities that work on complementary areas to serve a variety of business segments. We have a Branding section, which delivers design concepts and packaging, while the Store focuses on interior design products development. We also have a business segment dedicated to clean energy, which we incorporate in D-Town Living projects.
The company was only founded in 2013 but it has achieved fast growth. How did you manage to make this happen and what was your strategy?
Everything happened in a very organic way. Projects brought projects, clients brought new clients and the business started growing naturally. We are growing on a rate of 50% every 6 months, which also applies to the number our staff, which we fully expect to increase in the upcoming months to work on the materials library.
My business strategy has a very holistic approach – I consider all sectors of the company and try to bring them to their full potential and peak performance while making sure to always include the entire team to make sure that we are all on the same page, shooting for the same target.
What are the most challenging aspects of running a group of companies like D-Town and how were you able overcome them?
The challenges are various and no different from all other startups gaining dimension. I am often described as a big risk taker, not scared at all to put all my eggs in one basket, and I think that’s the secret to success – to totally believe in what you do. If plan B exists, that means you don’t believe enough in plan A.
Every day is challenging but exciting, and this journey as an entrepreneur is a continuous learning process for me. It is crucial to keep focus on the objective, work hard to achieve it, and also surround myself with a team that shares the same vision. At the end of the day business is the result of a team effort, and it is very rewarding to have that support come together and achieve what you envisioned. That gives me the energy to overcome any challenges and give more.
What is the role of innovation in your company?
Innovation is key for us. For instance, our interiors projects are exploring cutting edge technology such as moveable structures, 3D projection mapping, and kinetic installations, while our Branding segment is working on innovative e-commerce projects. We are now in the process of developing one of our most revolutionary initiatives called D-Town Library, which is slated to become the world’s largest and first materials library.
What is a materials library and why is it important?
Today, connectivity is the heart of global knowledge and trade. As such, I was inspired to create a hub that connects and bridges the gap between the world’s industries. Designers, architects, contractors, people that build things like airplanes or cars all struggle to scout the right materials for their projects. Because of this, the amount of time, energy and resources spent on simply looking for available options is huge.
The D-Town library will ease that process and reduce it to a single visit to our space. People will be able to see and feel materials first hand, assess their options immediately, get expert advice and contacts from suppliers, and even learn how to handle the materials. It aims to be a one-stop shop for all design disciplines, and it will definitely simplify the complexity for professionals and creative minds, which will ultimately contribute to greater growth across industries.
What are your proudest projects or achievements and why?
We are very proud of everything that has been achieved to this date, not only by the number of completed projects but also by the D-Town family and friends that we have made in the field. I am so proud to have our leadership’s – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum – vision on the Materials Library project. As Her Highness said: “this is a very promising project”, and our main goal now is to meet their expectations and deliver this project to the best of our ability.
You are a successful young entrepreneur. What have you learned during your time so far and what is your vision for leading your company into the future?
Being an entrepreneur is a continuous learning process but I would say that one of the most important lessons that I have learned is to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I believe in quantum leap, and we need to take risks and boldly move forward in order to make things happen and succeed. After all, passion is what drives businesses to success, not liquidity. I also think that staying optimistic through your entrepreneurial journey is key, which helps you to get inspired in every step of the process and enjoy your life.