Meet Ammar Akhtar, the Founder and CEO of the biggest car rental platform in the UAE. Ammar is a Pakistani-origin entrepreneur, who is transforming the car rental industry on his own terms.
When we talk about Karachi these days, the only thing that comes to mind is the record-breaking monsoon rains that have flooded engulfed the financial heartbeat of Pakistan. It is painful for the Karachiites, but even more painful for the Pakistani diaspora who are spiritually connected to the City of Lights.
But Karachi is not about flash floods, or disgruntled residents, or even incompetent administration. Karachi is about entrepreneurship, the dream of doing something big. It is a city that welcomes people from all over the country, people who come to the city to earn better, live better, and to find happiness.
Ammar Akhtar, a Pakistani-origin entrepreneur based in the UAE, reminisces about the time he went to the first IT exhibition at Expo Center Karachi ITCN as a 17-year-old boy excited about computers and the world of the internet. “I wanted to learn Java, and that was the day I decided that I would become a programmer,’’ says Ammar Akhtar, a successful entrepreneur who now splits his time between UAE, Poland and Italy.
“I decided to study at Aptech, and thus began my journey to Java. It felt like I was born to do the job! I had no issues learning how to code, and I could easily explore new methods without any external support. My love for programming helped greatly, and I ended up landing an internship in a local software house. Fast forward a year, and I was working full-time as a programmer. My joy knew no bounds.”
Life moved on, and he kept climbing the tech ladder, eventually launching Pakistan’s first-ever mobile games development company called Micromiles. Micromiles went on to winning the NCR Excellence Award in March 2007.
His first big project in Dubai was to create a website for Budget Rent-a-Car, which is one of the biggest car rental companies in the UAE. His team launched the website in 2008, and it turned out to be a huge success. He continued to create websites for several companies, including Thrifty, Dollar, Super Price, Car Lease, Udrive. Being part of their success stories helped him understand the industry, which is when he realized, with all the tech in the world, the customer was still unhappy! There was room for improvement, and we needed a disruptor to shake things up in this hundred-year-old industry.
The customers were still not happy due to non-transparency in the booking process. Too many surprises at the counter, with everything else being offline including document scanning, payment, etc.
In December 2017, he launched Finalrentals with the aim to create the best customer experience ever for car rental customers because all the websites focused mostly on airport locations, and it was always short-term deals that were offered. It was impossible to get a long-term car rental deal and his dream was to make car rental as easy as ordering food with a swipe on the phone. The main goal was of CaaS (Car as a Service) to prevail with clear and 100% transparency online, as well as offline.
After launching Finalrentals, he curated special deals with all the car rental companies in the UAE including all the top brands. Finalrentals provides free delivery at your doorstep when you order a monthly car rental on the website or the app. The platform is fully digital and you can upload your documents online, where the booking will be processed.
Within a few years, Finalrentals is considered to be one of the biggest car rentals in the UAE, a startup that is actually profitable. The app offers 400+ locations in the UAE with 100,000+ cars ready to be rented on the web, as well as the app.
Finalrentals was selected as one of the top six startups winning the Poland Prize program. Today, Finalrentals has plans to expand to EU and other countries. The global app is also ready to be used and is live in EU with 40,000 locations and 50,000+ cars ready to be rented from the app.
So how has COVID-19 affected Finalrentals? It’s not easy, but they have adapted. He is currently working with his team to make the next-generation tech that will allow them to make 100% contactless car rental possible.