Dubai: The rent-a-car industry is one of constant change, with everyone looking to lease at the cheapest possible price. A Dubai-based start-up — Finalrentals — is offering a one-stop shop for such needs not only in the UAE but worldwide as well.
“People spend a lot of hours comparing prices on so many different portals to get the best price. We are a fulfilment company and want to make it as simple as Netflix,” said Ammar Akhtar, CEO of Finalrentals, which is a self-funded and self-created company.
“When I first came to the UAE, my first project was to build Budget rent a car’s e-commerce website in 2010. It took us nine months to complete the project and created the booking engine for them and soon it became another revenue stream for the company.
“After that, I realised that in the UAE, both tourists and expats are renting a car and market shares are neck to neck. I realised that this is my niche and then I made websites for Dollar, Thrifty, Superprice and Carlease. We built about 80 per cent of rental car companies’ e-commerce sites in the UAE.”
From these projects, he came to realise there was a deep connect between himself and the car leasing industry.
The Finalrentals website was launched in November 2016 and started with Budget, Dollar and Thrifty as suppliers. Now, he said that they have more than 11 suppliers in the UAE, and more than 2,000 suppliers and 40,000 locations worldwide.
The big advantage of the Finalrentals website, he said, is that when a person checks the portal, he compares three main websites — Rentalcars, Hotwire and Wisecars.
“We work on a very localised model in every country and for a long term. We are the only website that offers rental for six months and one year. I am also Uber-ising the industry.
“The suppliers deliver the car at the preferred place for consumers for convenience. The delivery mechanism is linked. We are linking it with their [suppliers] local ERP (enterprise resources planning) to get access to their live feed.”
He claims that Finalrentals is the only company that offers cars on a daily, weekly and monthly comparison.
“We make sure customers know the fine print before renting a car. So you face no surprises at the counter or at the time of collecting the car.”
Regarding regulations, he said that the UAE is quite different when compared to other countries, because of factors such as a security deposit for the car and vehicle licensing fee [charged to customers].
“These are not there in western countries, where we have full protection but the customer does not pay for it. In the UAE, we don’t have full protection but Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW). The SCDW is close to full protection, but not exactly one. Some companies are working together to implement SCSW from January next.”
Akhtar said the company gets, on average, 12 per cent commission on each transaction, 38 bookings in the UAE per day and 141 bookings globally.
“We get more bookings globally from London, but I am not sure what is it due to. My aim is to achieve 1,000 bookings per day globally,” he said.
“We haven’t touched Latin America, Africa and Far East yet. We are looking to raise $2 million and cycle it for three years to grow further. The use of artificial intelligence will be my next step to automate the process and bring in a lot of supplier communications.”
Year Founded: 2016
Founders: Ammar Akhtar