Q&A: Graham Barker, owner of DoSpace

In this week’s Q&A Kehlan talks with Graham Barker, owner of a unique business. Graham has started DoSpace in the heart of the Dublin Docklands. In fact, it’s floating in the docks as we speak.

So Graham tell us what DoSpace is?

We are a hot desk community where people can come and work in their own desk space in the heart of the Dublin Docklands. 

We are situated in the docks themselves and believe it is one of Ireland’s most unique workspaces. 

Occupying an 800 sq ft barge, DoSpace provides co-workers with short or long-term desk space at a reasonable cost for Dublin 2 and 4. 

With the help of Waterways Ireland we sourced and refitted The Grey Owl, one of Ireland’s premier barges.

And why start this on a barge?

We originally looked for an affordable working space in the area itself. However, the prices to rent space for something like this was just way too much. 

Grand Canal Dock is referred to as Silicon Docks because of the large concentration of technology companies and is seen by many as a symbol of Ireland’s economic recovery. 

Tech giants like Facebook and Google, together with a myriad of smaller technology companies, have their European headquarters located here alongside incubation centres, such as Trinity’s Technology and Enterprise campus. 

So impressions are that it is only those who can afford it can work inside the area. We are aiming to end that impression and make a space that anyone can come to work and to not have to think about price, only about how they can build their business.

How do you fund an idea like this?

People underestimate what funding is out there for new businesses. For simply filling in a form you and your business can avail of funding from all sorts of areas. 

We originally had a barge that was smaller than the one we have now but that deal fell through. 

So luckily the owners of this barge, The Grey Owl, have worked with us and we have a continuous assessment contract with them. That means we need to start producing results as we open this week.

The pressure is on?

Yes it is, but that’s what you want. I worked on a business previously and eventually it ran its course. Lots of people hummed and hawed about what it is and how it works. However, when I explained what I was doing people jumped at the idea. 

It was unique, quirky and in a place that provides the environment to thrive. We know that this is something that can be really beneficial for start-ups and businesses. 

This is new for us: the marina here in the docklands and the owners for the boat. So it’s important that we’ve all come together in the belief that this can work. Having an idea is one thing, but when others endorse that idea it becomes something more.

So what do think is the future of Do Space?

We’re already looking at different spaces around the country. Not necessarily on other boats in locations that are both central and cost effective. Galway, Limerick and Cork are already on the list as places of interest. 

So there is no reason why we can’t expand this out and encourage more start-ups to have an inner-city hub, surrounded by the best in their field.

For more information visit www.dospace.ie 


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