A Cardiff-based global online car rental web-application business has secured the backing of a syndicate of four business angels led by lead investor Eamon Tuhami and venture capital company Fuel Ventures. The six-figure investment has been matched by the Development Bank of Wales’ Wales Angel Co-Investment Fund.
Based at Tec Marina in Penarth, Finalrentals is the brainchild of Ammar Akhtar who is orginally from Pakistan but relocated to the UK from Poland with an Innovator Visa as part of the UK Government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme. He then took part in FinTech Wales’ Foundry – the no equity accelerator programme that provides mentorship and support to help incubate, accelerate and scale start-up businesses in Wales.
With a background in technology building car rental software and websites, Ammar established Finalrentals in Dubai in 2019. Employing a team of eight, half of which are female, the innovative car rental platform is now used by local car rental businesses throughout the world including Canada, the United States of America and United Arab Emirates.
Ammar Akhtar, Founder and Chief Executive of Finalrentals said: “From Pakistan to Dubai then Poland to Cardiff, this has been a three year journey that started in my home garage fondly known as the ‘Gar-Office’.
“Over half of the global car rental industry is made up of local car rental companies who are great at customer service but know little about eCommerce. I knew from my experience of working for companies like Thrifty, Dollar and Payless that there was a great opportunity to develop an innovative car rental platform that could be accessible to local providers.
“We have worked tirelessly to build the software and get our product known in the market but taking part in the Fintech Wales programme was the catalyst for growth. It gave us a great opportunity to network with the investor community in Wales and benefit from mentorship which has ultimately led to us being able to secure this major investment that will enable us to now scale the business. There is certainly a culture of innovation and growth in Wales and I’m now proud to call Cardiff my home.”
Lead investor and founder of Hwyl.Ventures Eamon Tuhami said: “I was surprised to learn that 52% of the world’s car rental companies are small businesses who struggle to take and make orders online. Ammar and his team have built an innovative platform which has global reach and is already making a difference. It’s been a pleasure to connect him into the ecosystem, see him part of the FinTech Wales Foundry program and introduce him to other angels and funds. I warmly welcome him and his family to Wales and believe that this is just the beginning of something very exciting.”
Tom Preene is Operations Manager for Angels Invest Wales. He added: “As the biggest angel network in Wales, we connect experienced investors with Welsh businesses seeking private investment. Led by experienced investor and business angel Eamon, this particular syndicate will bring real firepower to Finalrentals as one of the world’s best-in-class web applications for car rental providers. We are also pleased to welcome the support of Fuel Ventures.”
The £8 million Wales Angel Co-investment Fund provides Welsh businesses with a key source of alternative finance through the encouragement of more active angel investment. The five year fund supports the creation of angel syndicates and networks across Wales by providing loans and equity up to £250,000 to investors looking for co-investment.