TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based RentMama, a new platform to bring local car hire company prices and deals to a global audience.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Gunars Grundstoks/co-founder - Gunars founded Rentmama with Valdis and they also run IT House. Gunars is also co-founder of Techhub Riga. He has has been involved in software and websites for over thirteen years. He helps businesses to find business on the Internet. He graduated from Vidzeme University Of Applied Sciences in Information Technology and Socio-technical Systems Engineering.
- Valdis Pornieks/co-founder - Valdis co-founded RentMama with Gunars as well as IT House where he is the Tech director. He is currently doing strategic and user experience tech jobs. He likes to solve hard problems and is also adept at leading "Agile" projects. Valdis’ passion is lecturing Web Technologies and Ruby on Rails at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences.
- Vilnis Sluka/co -founder - Vilnis has a master's degree in transport and traffic knowledge and for many years he has worked in the car rental industry, he is our generator of ideas and he is also a passionate traveler and photographer.
We got financial support from our web development company IT House, StartupBootcamp and Ignite100.
What problem are you trying to solve?
I realised that there was a problem within the local car rental industry when I was travelling in Europe and the US three years ago and I wanted to rent a car.
I received quotes from the well known car rental companies such as Hertz and Enterprise etc and they were all very expensive and I knew that I would probably find a better deal from a local car rental company out there.
Trying to find these local car rental companies was very hard, I had to search through phone books and countless pages of Google to then then ring them all individually to find the best deal.
This must have taken me about three hours and I was surprised that there wasn't an online service in place to do this for you...then RentMama was born.
RentMama is an online marketplace were customers can search for local cars in their selected area and they can then request to be sent all of the best deals.
We are also helping local businesses generate more sales as we are providing them with an online presence that they usually cannot afford.
This also gives them a chance to compete with their bigger competitors. We also found that local car rental companies can offer their services at Off-Peak times as well as Sundays which large companies and comparison websites can not generally offer.
Describe the business, core products and services?
RentMama is an online marketplace were customers can come and find the best local car rental deal.
How it works: you choose the place/address where you want to start, and then we will show you all of the rental cars from small and medium sized companies in your 30 mile radius.
You can choose a car by price, ratings, location, response time and even by exact model or car characteristics. Select the cars that you like and then send a request with your additional wishes to companies and then simply just watch your offers arrive in your mailbox.
We offer the renter a more personal, flexible and adapted car rental deal. We also found that local car rental companies can offer their services at off-peak times as well as Sundays which large companies and comparison websites can not generally offer.
You will also find that deals from local independent companies are often also better due to flexible payment methods, smaller insurance excess and less of a deposit.
It is also a community of local independent car hire companies who have come together on this platform and who are now able to compete with the larger car rental companies whom with before they couldn’t.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customers are "DIY Tourists" – those that like to hunt around and make their own arrangements, students, locals who are wanting to rent a vehicle and generally just every day folk who are wanting to find the best car rental deal and the best customer service.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, when we launched the first few versions of the platform we had a number of users from Latvia and we received feedback from them - they said that they would like RentMama to be more of a social and interactive experience and so we introduced the customer reviews and ratings application in which customers can recommend rental companies and discuss their experiences with each other.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our business model is simple, we take 10% per completed car rental deal that is booked through RentMama.com. This 10% is the customers deposit and they then pay the remaining 90% to the local rental company on arrival.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- A service like this currently doesn't exist so we will be the world’s first. This will enable us to get more car hire companies signed up as it is free and they have nothing to lose only gain. We are also portraying the message that we are helping customers find the best possible deal for them as well as supporting local businesses which is always a great.
- Limited. We could say that there is still room for development within the platform yet all this will come at a later stage. The real challenge will be managing all of the companies that sign up with us as they must provide a trustworthy, quality service.
- Huge. We are dealing with a massive market and could potentially revolutionise the car rental industry. We aim to one day be a global service and brand known world wide. As we grow we can only be helping more renters and car hire companies which is great.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- May come across are other companies who are trying to offer a similar service.
To be honest the only negative feedback we’ve really had has been about our company name and not about the idea. People like our idea and can see a need for it.
There are some people who have said that they will not be using RentMama, and we believe that this is because they are cooperative types of customers who have cooperative cards for big companies and so they don't care about the price.
We believe we have a catchy name which will be easy to remember and in the beginning we have thought about official names like ‘car rental central’ but these kind of names are all boring and we want to stand out.
We like to think of RentMama meaning that Mamma knows best so she will find you the best car rental deals and take good care of you..
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
In 12 months time we aim to have 60% of UK local car rental companies signed up with RentMama.com.
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NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.