Dubai: For 22-year-old electric vehicle enthusiast Hamad AlMazrooei, the fascination with green modes of transport began when he was younger. It was this motivation that led the UAE national to entrepreneurship at the age of 19, starting his first business while still studying at university level.

“I’m obsessed with redefining the way we move,” AlMazrooei said in an exclusive interview with Gulf News. “At a very young age, I followed my curiosity and where my questions led me, and found myself on a mission to bring sustainable shared mobility to the streets of the Middle East.

“At 19, my entrepreneurial journey began with the goal of making electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure more accessible. In 2021, it had already been a year, and I joined my partners with the vision of making sustainable mobility more affordable, accessible and flexible.

Early industry experience

AlMazrooei’s experience in the electric vehicle industry began in 2020, with an internship at Tesla, the American giant of the all-electric car industry, and it only further fueled the passion of AlMazrooei. Emirati entrepreneur.

This was therefore quickly followed by AlMazrooei who launched his first business “Charger Plus”, a charging infrastructure provider in the United Arab Emirates, and a year later he co-founded his second business company “MOTOR”, a portal car sharing only for Electric Vehicles (EV) in UAE.

“Starting a business can seem easy. But at 19, as a university student with limited funding, the trip gave me a taste of entrepreneurship at a young age and profoundly influenced my mindset, changing my academic trajectory from engineering to information systems and finance,” AlMazrooei said.

At 19, as a university student with limited funding, the trip gave me a taste of entrepreneurship at a young age

– Hamad Al Mazrooei

Booming global trend for electric vehicles

It’s no secret that electric cars are currently a thriving trend in 2022, given that last year was the strongest year yet for electric vehicles (EVs) after overtaking their counterparts petrol and diesel.

Growing demand for low-emission travel, both globally and in the Middle East, is what prompted AlMazrooei to launch his latest car-sharing venture with business partner Kazbek Khunkaev, a 27-year-old Russian expat based in the United States. United Arab Emirates.

“The idea was born out of the fact that we have witnessed the success of the car-sharing concept on a global scale and we wanted to take a sustainable approach by being an exclusive platform for electric vehicles. Indeed, the future is to electric cars – both self-driving and self-driving, with the UAE being a pioneer in the adoption of sustainable technologies,” he added.

Electric cars remain expensive

The reality is that electric cars are more expensive than their counterparts, and this is partly due to the materials and assembly process, the massive research and development required, and the investment costs incurred by manufacturers. automobiles that must quickly switch from fossil fuels to battery technologies.

This is why electric vehicle rental prices are always higher than conventional car rental platforms. The challenge would therefore be to encourage people to rent electric vehicles as a more economical option rather than buying electric vehicles. So how does AlMazrooei’s latest platform fight competition and price?

That’s when the serial entrepreneur talked about taking a diverse approach. “The platform doesn’t compete on price, but on service and customer experience,” he said, referring to “…instant access to cars, choice of start location and end of rentals, faster car delivery, free parking and charging, and flexible rates.

AlMazrooei’s experience in the electric vehicle industry began in 2020, with an internship at Tesla, the American giant of the all-electric car industry, and it only further fueled the passion of AlMazrooei. Emirati entrepreneur.

Facing exorbitant costs

“Electric vehicles are always expensive, and as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) introduce new, more affordable options, this would help reduce rental costs,” AlMazrooei added.

“When comparing the cost of renting a high-end electric vehicle against an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle, our free recharge allows on average a fuel saving of 80 Dh on our daily rental, which makes relatively affordable rental.”

With the platform primarily targeting a middle-to-high income demographic between the ages of 21 and 35, AlMazrooei said the platform’s target customer base is those who are environmentally conscious and interested in new electric vehicles.

Locate, Book, Unlock, Drive

“After registration, users can locate, reserve, unlock and drive cars completely digitally. Cars are on the street 24/7 for self-pickup and delivery,” said he explained, while adding that a remote function allows cars to be pre-cooled before customers drive them, “which is extremely relevant for this part of the world.”

Charging an electric vehicle is still not as fast as refueling a gasoline, diesel or hydrogen car, but charging an electric car is gradually getting faster. So when you need to recharge, you’ll want to do it as quickly as possible. So how does the platform meet the challenge of charging a rented electric car?

“At the moment, we are mainly using existing charging infrastructure and working with hotels and communities to bring our service closer to those who need it. Yet, we are developing our own charging platform, which is to be launched and will aim to make more charging infrastructure available to the public.

Electric vehicles are still expensive, and as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) introduce new, more affordable options, this would help reduce rental costs.

– Hamad Al Mazrooei

A heavy investment effort?

AlMazrooei revealed that his second venture was financed by personal funds and investments from investors.

“My very first investment was $30,000 (110,193 Dh), but all the partners have jointly invested more than $1 million (3.67 million Dh) in the development of the platform. So far, it was mostly self-funded by the founders and their families, with plans for a ‘Series A’ fundraiser soon,” he explained.

(What is a “Series A” fundraising round? A “Series A” round is the name generally given to the first major round of venture capital funding for a company. The name refers to the class of preferred stock sold to investors in exchange for their investment.)

Some of your start-up difficulties?

When AlMazrooei was asked about some of the initial difficulties (industry-related or otherwise) in launching the company, he pointed to the age-old struggle of start-ups to cope with budget constraints.

“Working with limited resources is an ongoing struggle for all businesses and start-ups are no different. Having limited resources ultimately forced us to sacrifice things at the expense of others. We are not overcoming but managing this ongoing struggle in two ways,” AlMazrooei explained.

“First, by having a mechanism to prioritize what needs to be done and based on available resources, tasks get done. Second, and most important, is to rethink what needs to be done.

Any advice for other entrepreneurs?

AlMazrooei: “That’s my advice to all entrepreneurs, is to have the curiosity to ask, to question everything and to rethink what is needed and how different it could be. This resulted in the birth of many innovative creative ideas.