Driv­ing change in the rent-a-car busi­ness

Fi­nal­rentals of­fers an in­stant com­par­i­son on prices and more

Gulf News - - News - BY NAUSHAD K. CHERRAYIL Staff Re­porter

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 self­cre­ated com­pany.

“When I first came to the UAE, my first pro­ject was to build Bud­get rent-a-car’s ecom­merce 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’ ecom­merce sites in the UAE.”

Deep con­nect

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 ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Name: Sec­tor: Year Founded: Founders: Fund­ing: Em­ploy­ees:

FI­nal­rentals e-com­merce 2016 Am­mar Akhtar Dh1m

6 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 a 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 it is 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.”

Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Am­mar Akhtar, CEO and Founder of Fi­nal­rentals.com, at Dubai Tech­nol­ogy En­trepreneur Cen­tre.

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