Dubai-based Finalrentals is digitizing price comparison and
booking for short- and long-term car rentals in the United Arab Emirates, where it estimates 70%
of bookings currently take place offline. The company is also gradually adding
short-term rental service in markets around the world.
Founder and CEO Ammar Akhtar created the company based on
his experience building websites and booking engines for other car rental
companies in the Gulf region.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Finalrentals is a car rental comparison and booking platform
based out of Dubai. It is the only platform in the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) that helps you compare monthly car rental deals for more than 1,000 cars
at a time from 11 top suppliers.
We bring the best monthly deals to our users
with 100% clear terms and conditions guaranteed with no surprises at the
counter. All the prices that you see on the platform are real-time connected
using Finalrentals connected API with the suppliers, and we make sure that the
prices are the cheapest possible.
The platform is totally digital, and you can upload your driving
license and personal details securely to the platform, which helps fast-track
rentals at the time of collection. Finalrentals earns commission from the
supplier on every booking.
What inspired you to create this company?
I have been working with companies like Budget, Thrifty and
Dollar in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2007 and have seen the backend
of the industry from booking to operations. While working with the traditional
car rental companies, I realized that there is a huge digital gap in the
There is a need of a platform that can help these companies become
truly digital and that can also bring local players to an online marketplace.
That’s how the idea of Finalrentals came into picture.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.
- Being in Dubai helps in attracting lot of customers who
are traveling into Dubai as well as planning to move to Dubai for short- and
- We are the only platform in the GCC offering this service
online in a very sophisticated and connected manner.
- We have very close ties with car rental suppliers and
have access to great inventory and great prices as well.
- Our design techniques and engineering methodologies are on
par with world-class service.
- Being in Dubai can be a weakness too because it is a
market that is very small - 9.8 million people - and to scale worldwide
it will require lot of time.
- Since Dubai is not really famous for startups (unlike
London, Berlin, etc.), it is difficult to be known and seen as an upcoming
- Compared to the rest of the world, running and
managing a startup in Dubai can be very expensive.
- Low entry barriers.
- Dubai is trying hard to become the Arab startup hub, and
it is good to be at the forefront of that as a startup.
- Expo2020 in Dubai is promising and promises to open doors
to lots of new opportunities and partnerships for us as a startup.
- It is easy to make partnerships and connections with neighboring
- Since car rental comparison platform development is not rocket
science, there is always a threat of a competitor coming into the picture. That
is why we always have to keep innovating as a company to stay ahead.
- Low entry barriers are there - it is very easy to set up
and operate a company in Dubai if you have access to the capital.
- E-commerce laws and regulations are still not clearly
defined in the UAE.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?
The car rental industry worldwide is mostly driven by a few
top brands, and there is no platform that helps local companies (unbranded
ones) share the digital space. So Finalrentals is bringing them to a digital
platform to make sure users have a large variety to choose plus also taking the
pain away of expensive car rentals, etc.
Since the platform is digital, when you upload your documents
and pay online you can avoid the queue at the rental counter, which can save
you plenty of time for sure.
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Another very important aspect that we work on is
the pre‐booking/delivery to your location. Unlike other platforms, at Finalrentals
you can actually preorder a car rental delivered to your preferred location.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of
By extensive digital marketing and also word of mouth, and
also by talking to amazing companies and platforms like yours to make sure we
get the word out that we exist.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
According to market data, the UAE alone is a $700 million market
for car rentals, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6%. And 70% of the
car rentals are still done offline in the UAE, so you can imagine there is a
genuine need for a platform like Finalentals to help people book car rentals
How and when will you make money?
We have boot strapped since September 2016 (I have
used my savings). I am pleased to inform you that we are now entering into a
phase where are cashflow positive and self-sustained and ready to take off
further and further.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
I am the founder and a car rental industry insider. I
was the person behind online booking platforms of Budget, Thrifty, Dollar and
Quicklease in the UAE, and we have great tech team that is accustomed and
trained to build car rental solutions. We have what it takes to become a
successful car rental platform company.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business
The most difficult part of founding the business so
far is marketing. It is expensive to market at times, and we as a startup need
to make sure we work on a perfect ROI-based model where we do not lose money
(since we are boot strapping) and need to make sure the money that is spent is
bringing back enough bookings. It has been a very difficult but fulfilling
journey so far.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact ‐ so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
I totally agree with you that it is really tough out
there for startups in the travel sector, considering the very fact that there are
new OTAs coming into the scene everyday.
So far we have been lucky in the sense
that we have been able to build a reputation and brand. Winning the Gulf
Capital Award really helped, and we will keep on hustling as luck also favors
the brave and hardworking.
What question might we have missed?
Why Finalrentals? My dream is to make car rentals as easy as
ordering food or downloading and watching your favorite series online.
Finalrentals is your final destination for all your car rental needs.
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