We had the opportunity to talk with Vilhelm Hedberg, Founder of EKar, the Middle East’s first pay-as-you-go hourly and daily car rental service. After having been named the Number One Startup to Watch by Forbes Magazine, movmi was thrilled to reconnect with and congratulate Vilhelm on his outstanding success.
We are proud to have worked with EKar to setup and launch their operations, reducing a traditional launch timeline to just four months, and preparing the commercial launch as well.
What is EKar and how does your member experience work?
Ekar is the Middle East’s first pay-as-you-go hourly car rental. We provide mobility solutions for people living and working in the United Arab Emirates, and the Greater Gulf Countries.
Ekar launched in January 2016, and has since been successful in acquiring Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways as our launch/flagship customers. The Roads and Transport Authority later awarded us with a position to provide hourly smartcar rental in Dubai for a period of 3 + 2 years. This project will commence in January 2017.
Why did you have this idea and vision for EKar?
My business partner and I had been discussing the merits of a carshare program since 2010. We saw that there was a gap in the market, especially for young entrepreneurs, airline cabin crew, and single car families. Our first emails to Emirates was sent in 2010, and the RTA in 2013. It wasn’t until 2016 that the business was effectively lifted off the ground.
How did you get to where you are now?
We were entrusted by our seed investors to run with this project. Once the seed was secured, we were lucky enough to have hired a great team, including Sandra Phillips of movmi, who was instrumental at getting us to a revenue position, whilst keeping cost well below budget.
What were some of the challenges and what were some of the rewards?
Introducing a service to a market that has never seen carshare was a great challenge in itself. There was a large learning curve, and we were lucky that the airlines facilitated in marketing to their own staff. This lowered the cost of customer acquisition.
The business has been very rewarding, and the proof that we have built something great falls within our customer feedback as well as the media attention. For example, we were ranked as the Number One Startup to Watch by Forbes Magazine.
What is next for EKar?
Ekar is currently building its fleet from 37 to 200 cars be end of 2017. We are currently closing our Series A raise, and will be using this capital to further build our fleet to 500 by end of 2018. We aim to provide smart car rentals throughout the GCC and Saudi Arabia.
Are you interested in learning more about working with us? Contact us here to find out more.