Yusr is the co-founder of Wakilni. A doer with a passion for building and empowering productive and happy teams; Yusr established Wakilni – a smart logistics solution focused on e-commerce SMEs – in 2016. Today Wakilni is one of the fastest growing last mile service providers covering all of Lebanon. In 2020, Yusr established the Wakilni E-commerce Hub powered by Antwork which offers e-commerce businesses shelving, storage and fulfillment services in addition to delivery. Yusr was featured by the American University of Beirut as one of the women alumni impacting the world through their work. She is committed to transferring enthusiasm and knowledge and to being the driving force behind creating and delivering services that make people’s lives easier.
Tell us a bit about the story of Wakilni and when did it all start?
In 2015, we had the idea to start a concierge service, basically a service that would allow individuals and home owners to have their errands run such as dropping off laundry, paying bills, watering plants, etc… Soon after we started, we realized that there’s a bigger demand from businesses for courier and delivery like services and that’s when we started focusing on delivery services for E-commerce businesses. Fast forward a few years, towards the end of 2018, we realized that with the large number of ecommerce businesses we are servicing, we have become part of a community to which we can offer beyond delivery services. In 2019, we established the Wakilni e-commerce hub powered by Antwork which offers ecommerce businesses and suppliers of ecommerce businesses, hot-desking, private offices, shelving and storage solutions. We also have a large conference room that can be used for events and workshops.
Can you describe two major productive events for this year?
Between the revolution and covid, events have been pretty shy however we did run two productive one. The first was a legal workshop in partnership with Orurus, the session introduced ecommerce businesses and their founders to what they need to know from a legal perspective about running an ecommerce business.
In January, when startups were facing difficulties with the banks being closed and restrictions to cash and transfers, we held a brain storming session that was attended by a number of business founders who shared the difficulties they were facing and some possible solutions. We look forward to holding additional such events in the near future.
What is your favorite part of being in a co-working space?
The hustle bustle, the energy and the new faces! We love meeting new people and the new ideas they bring to the hub.
What were the challenges that you introduced to adapt workers for this community base culture?
It is still a challenge reminding our team that we are now part of a community and that we share the space with others. Our team can be pretty loud! Of course we hold routine awareness sessions and we post signage on the walls at the hub that acts as a reminder that it’s a shared space. At some point though, it becomes intuitive, and people have adapted.
What advices can you give to a startup moving from a traditional office to coworking space?
Get to know the space well, ask for all the details (opening hours, accessibility, what’s offered, what’s not offered). Co-working spaces means there’s probably much more space and even activities than what you would usually find in a traditional office. Try to find your spots. At the Wakilni hub, most of us have an eating spot, a chilling spot, and a favorite quiet spot to work from.
How do you stay motivated notably in this economic and pandemic phase?
It’s easier to stay motivated when your work is linked to a purpose and when you are surrounded with people who share your purpose. Our community is also our support system. When one of us is having a low day, most likely than not someone will notice and will cheer them up.
What advice can you give to workers not able to balance between personal life and work load time?
I stopped trying to balance personal and work life a long time ago! Running a startup means long hours, no way around it. The Wakilni hub has helped me merge the two so I don’t feel the pressure of always needing to balance my life. My colleagues and team mates are also my friends. We share lunch breaks, coffee breaks (lots of them), we laugh, we play and we hold movie and game nights and we also work and toil together. This might not sound ideal, but I know it works for me and it keeps me sane!