One never stops getting amused at the fast pace at which innovation brings out a new venture in Dubai every day. One such startup is Finalrentals.com – a car rental comparison and booking website that covers all major locations in the UAE as well as more than 40,000 locations worldwide. The website offers short-term and long-term rentals as well as car rental delivery straight to your doorstep. If this idea isn’t a disruptor, what is?
Ammar Akhtar, founder and CEO, Finalrentals.com, came to the UAE in January 2007 as an entrepreneur and his first project was creating a website for Budget Rent a Car, followed by e-commerce platforms for Thrifty, Dollar and other car rental companies. The idea of Finalrentals evolved as a passion to digitise the car rental industry and was launched in September 2016.
So, did Akhtar face challenges? As a startup trying to digitise the industry with better design, process and approach to customer acquisition, it was difficult in the early days to convince the suppliers (traditional car rental companies), he points out.
“However, I have worked very closely with car rental companies in terms of making them understand the passion I bring to the table and together with them, we are creating a beautiful and clear car rental process for end-users. Once they understand the viewpoint, everything else is just a formality. Finalrentals.com as a brand has been able to clearly communicate that message to the suppliers as well as customers that our dream is to make car rental as easy as renting your favourite series from Netflix.”
The UAE is a dynamic market for car rentals, with both residents and tourists renting cars a great deal. The industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11 per cent.
Finalrentals.com had a seed funding of $375,000 and is in its growth stage. “We are ideally looking at $5 million for the next round as we have also added 40,000+ locations worldwide to our offering. We are looking forward to marketing Finalrentals.com as a startup and a brand made in the UAE. We would like to place Finalrentals in the most popular destinations around the world by offering more innovative services through our website and app,” adds Akhtar.
The startup offers car rentals from 502 locations in the UAE, including all airports, malls, central city and downtown locations as well as suburbs in all emirates. That gives the user potential access to more than 102,000 vehicles in the UAE. In terms of traffic, Finalrentals.com gets more than 100,000 visitors per month organically and it is growing at a rate of 8.5 per cent every month, with more than 27 transactions everyday and growing at the rate of 10.9 per cent annually.
“One thing that differentiates us is our short-term and long-term offering with the possibility of ordering a delivery. Around 99.9 per cent of the car rental portals around the world focus mainly on airport-based car rentals whereas Finalrentals.com focuses on airport, downtown locations as well as suburbs. It is the only car rental portal in the world that offers short-term rentals as well as long-term rentals. You can compare monthly car rental deals on Finalrentals.com from among more than 1,000 cars offered by main car rental companies in the UAE. Free delivery to your doorstep makes us different from our competitors. We will continue to add more and more local functionalities in our product as we grow.”
Says Limshad Narakkodan, chief technical office, Finalrentals.com: “I have been working on high-end e-commerce products and projects but it is rare that you come across an opportunity where you can contribute to creating a paradigm shift in an industry. I think Finalrentals.com is a game-changing product that I am working on and I believe in the innovation we are bringing in day in and day out in terms of functionality and design. This makes me believe we are building a success story with a fantastic team of passionate people who can go many extra miles and can put it many extra hours just to make the things quick and easy for the customer.”
Finalrentals.com is the only self-funded startup in the UAE, a boot-strapped venture that has made it to the Gulf Capital SME Awards. Organised by Meed, the awards programme is supported by endorsing partners Dubai SME and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development while Gulf Capital and Virtuzone are sponsors. The winners will be announced on September 26 in Dubai.
“I have been very fortunate to travel to more than 47 cities in the last two years around the world for startup expos and exhibitions and talks. I can confirm that the UAE is the most dynamic and most suitable country in the world for startups. It has all the necessary policies and incubators to help startups understand their idea, incorporate and grow. The UAE is located in the heart of the world, so if you are a startup with local and global expansion plans, the UAE is for you because it is a country with lot of young expats who are ready to use the products/platform offered by startups. Most startups focus on an Internet-based business model, so the consumer is already here to consume. All you have to do is dream and believe in your startup. The UAE – as a fantastic eco-system – is here to help,” concludes Akhtar.