Automotive

Redefining Tech’s Frontier: Ammar Akhtar’s Journey from Start-Up to Global Expansion

Ammar Akhtar’s Journey: Startup Hurdles, Global Ambitions & Finding Purpose in Business

Welcome to “Bright Founders Talk” at Temy, where we delve into the minds of the innovative leaders behind sustainable businesses and promising startups. Today, we are honored to have with us Ammar Akhtar, the Founder and CEO of Finalrentals.com.

The name might ring a bell for those in the digital car rental space, and for good reason. Finalrentals.com is making waves by helping local car rental businesses transition into the digital era. Through our engaging conversation with Ammar, we’ll journey through his inspiring leap of faith, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the vision that drives Finalrentals.com.

As we unravel his story, we uncover the passion and resilience it takes to transform an industry. Sit back and join us as we shift gears into the world of digital car rentals.

Ammar Akhtar's Journey: Startup Hurdles, Global Ambitions & Finding Purpose in Business
From the Skyscrapers of Dubai to the Big Leagues: Ammar’s Journey with Final Rentals

There’s a profound story of metamorphosis in Ammar’s narrative. When asked about his company, Finalrentals, his eyes lit up with passion. “It’s a platform for local car companies,” he began. But it’s not just any platform. It’s about empowering the local car rental businesses, especially those in the suburbs, to leap into the digital age. It’s clear that this isn’t just business for Ammar; it’s a mission. With Finalrentals, these companies no longer fumble in the dark realms of e-commerce and payment gateways. They step into a turnkey solution, allowing them instant online visibility on platforms like Kayak and Skyscanner.

Sometimes I just think that this industry selected me, instead of me selecting the industry

Ammar’s journey to the creation of Finalrentals is rich with experience and transformative moments. From Pakistan to Dubai, and from web developer to a pioneer in the car rental industry, his path has been nothing short of remarkable. Building sites for global giants such as Budget Rent-A-Car and Alamo, he found himself constantly pondering over one fundamental issue: If these giants struggle online, how do the local players even stand a chance? It was this very thought, nurtured over the years, that eventually birthed Finalrentals in 2019.

Yet, every story of success is also one of trials and tribulations. Ammar’s tale wasn’t devoid of such moments. With an audacious leap of faith, he threw his savings into his vision, only to see it dwindle in eight months. But here’s the crux: setbacks didn’t deter him. Even when he was down to his last $4,000, his belief never wavered. “It gives me goosebumps,” he admitted. But this journey, marked by losses and lessons, like surviving through the tough phase of COVID-19, only honed his entrepreneurial spirit. Today, Ammar stands tall, looking ahead with optimism, confident in the expansive potential of Finalrentals.

Ammar’s Financial Wake-Up Call: From $4,000 to Spiritual Rediscovery

The realization hit hard. Staring at his account balance, a mere $4,000 left, Ammar was plunged into disbelief. He meticulously trawled through eight months of bank statements, desperately seeking clues to the vanishing funds. “It was mentally exhausting,” he recalls, the weight of despair palpable in his voice. But it was a week-long retreat to the outskirts of Milan, reconnecting with his father after six long years, that proved to be Ammar’s saving grace.

This is life, being happy about small things, no matter how big of a damage has happened

His father’s simple joy in life’s modest offerings – a special offer on biscuits, a discount on yogurt – cast a profound epiphany on Ammar. His father’s delight in life’s little pleasures reminded him of what truly mattered. Returning to Dubai, he was transformed. “I started looking at things from the ground up,” he shares, now emphasizing the importance of being capital efficient, and appreciating the small joys in life.

Yet, building a team, especially in the business world, comes with its own challenges. Ammar prides himself on his core team – many have been with him since day one, standing by him through the highs and lows. But hiring is a process he doesn’t take lightly, emphasizing that while skills can be taught, attributes like integrity and sincerity can’t be instilled. “I want to know every person who works in the company,” he emphasizes, highlighting the importance of keeping the human touch, even as the company scales. After all, it’s these genuine connections that drive the heart and soul of his business.

The Human Touch in Business: Ammar’s Philosophy on Sentiment and Success

Every now and then, someone breaks the mold of what we perceive business to be. The image of sharp suits and sharper tongues is upended by someone like Ammar. He raises a refreshing glass to sentimentality, honesty, and the authenticity many businesses so often lack.

“Any business that’s truly sustainable… is built on these values,” Ammar claims, the fervor clear in his voice. He’s no stranger to the skeptics who say there’s no place for emotion in business. But for Ammar, the emotion is a foundation, not a frivolity. He tells a captivating tale of an almost-lost business deal in the Dominican Republic, reeling in his listener with a blend of genuine interest, data, and a keen sense of what truly matters. When he says, “I’ve built a great family so far of 31 countries,” you can’t help but believe him. It’s not about conquest; it’s about community.

Any business that’s truly sustainable… is built on these values

But it’s not just in his business dealings that this theme of “family” resonates. Ammar is a proud family man at heart, seamlessly integrating work and family life. He doesn’t believe in the traditional work-life balance. Instead, he intertwines them, just as his personal values echo in his professional ethos. Whether he’s guiding international clients or playing football with his son, Ammar embodies a philosophy that many entrepreneurs might aspire to but few truly achieve: the marriage of passion and authenticity in all facets of life.

Ammar’s Vision: From Chicken Burgers to Tech Exportation

If there’s one thing Ammar underscores, it’s the rapid, commendable progress his company has made over the past year. From securing their initial funding round to forecasting massive expansion into 85 countries in just two years, it’s evident that Ammar’s mission is ambitious and laser-focused. A whopping half a billion pounds in gross revenue and an impressive 18% margin are not just numbers to him but markers of growth and dedication. With eyes set on expanding the team, especially in data, AI, and design, Ammar exudes a contagious confidence, leaving us all a bit curious about what the next phase will bring.

But let’s be real—raising funds isn’t a walk in the park. Ammar admits to spending nearly seven to eight months just on documentation when he first started. Yet, he emphasizes the significance of the process. It isn’t just about securing funds; it’s about telling a story, showcasing your business’s strength in numbers, and forecasting your growth. “Fundraising is not a one-time activity,” he asserts. Despite the challenges, his grit and perseverance shone through, and he managed to close his funding round in just seven months. And now? With a year of significant growth under his belt, he approaches VCs with a potent narrative of capital efficiency and business growth from the ground up.

For all the budding entrepreneurs out there, Ammar has some golden nuggets of advice. In his words, “Find your purpose.” It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of being a founder in today’s startup culture. But, according to him, before you pitch to others, pitch to yourself. Look in the mirror and ask if what you’re pursuing is genuinely your life’s purpose. “Once you are able to answer that question, that question is your purpose,” Ammar muses. With his infectious passion and visionary approach, it’s no wonder he leaves many feeling inspired, urging them to focus fully on their ambitions.

Find your purpose. Once you answer that, go for it, fully focused. It takes time, but it will always take off

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