Urent is a new online platform that aims to revolutionize the car rental industry in the UAE. Following the Airbnb model for cars, Urent allows peer-to-peer vehicle sharing via its online platform—the first of its kind in the UAE.
Launching in a month at the end of November 2019, it has already managed to raise seed funding through a partnership with Seed Group, an association of diversified companies owned by The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.
While their major indirect competitors are UDrive, which recently raised $5M to expand its fleet, Ekar and existing rental companies, Urent’s business model does not directly compete with them. Being the first of its kind in the UAE to be licensed, Urent is not just another competitor in the car rental space. It goes one step further to expand the market to six other vehicle categories.
For the model to work, there are two major challenges to overcome: inventory and trust.
Urent is designed to allow individuals to rent out their cars. However, naturally trust is a key element here which could slow down the adoption rate, while there are hundreds of rental agencies that have their cars lying untouched, who can rent it out through Urent’s platform.
Al Ashi says he is also in talks with car dealerships, who can rent out their older inventory that has not been sold yet and is unlikely to be picked up. Thus creating a new avenue to help businesses and people earn revenues.
As for the trust factor, any business takes time to generate that, especially when talking to individual car owners who are concerned about the probability of accidents and insurance issues.
In order to encourage and develop this trust between vehicle owners and renters, Al Ashi says the platform will have many features such as ratings and reviews, similar to what Airbnb used to instill trust when it first launched. They will also run a sort of vetting process to ensure the quality of drivers remains good on the platform.
Overall, the challenge remains quite similar to Airbnb and its likes, in gaining the trust of the audience, however there are many case studies that Urent can learn from to ride this challenge. more