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ROWW

Executive Summary

Talal Junaid launched ROWW in 2020 with Dtech Systems, evolving from initial challenges like limited market research and technical issues, to establish a technologically advanced vehicle rental platform in Saudi Arabia. Featuring multi-region adaptability and flexible host scheduling, ROWW has onboarded over 50 car rental companies and plans to expand into water and air vehicle rentals. Future expansion targets include the UAE and European markets, aiming to revolutionize the global rental industry with innovative transportation solutions.

Client Background

Talal Junaid, a visionary young entrepreneur, recognized the untapped potential within Saudi Arabia’s vehicle rental industry. He understood that integrating advanced technology would serve as a unique selling point in this burgeoning market. However, his journey to success was far from direct. The brand itself underwent several transformations, originally named Peer 2 Peer, then rebranded to GOCAR, before finally settling on ROWW—an acronym for Road, Water, and Wind.

This new name not only reflected the company’s roots in road vehicle rentals but also Talal’s vision for future expansion into watercraft and aircraft rentals. Talal’s strategic flexibility has positioned ROWW to seamlessly diversify and adapt in a competitive industry.

ROWW is an ongoing project with Dtech starting in 2020 and ongoing in 2024 for maintenance and feature enhancements.

Project Objectives & Overview

Project Technology:

backend and Web-Portal : PHP-Laravel

IOS: Swift

Project Duration: 2020-Ongoing

Project Goals: An easy to use online platform that would allow guest and hosts to connect with each other to find the best vehicles to book as per their trip preferences.

Project Scope: A single app for both renters (term used as guest within ROWW) and providers (Term host used in ROWW) would be able to list and rent vehicles.

The main features of the App are as below.

  1. Easy login via social accounts, email or phone.
  2. Ability to have both individual and company (car rental companies) as hosts
  3. Seamless booking process for guests
  4. Multiple payment methods (Mada, Visa, Mastercard and Apple Pay)
  5. Verification of vehicle documents and details along with host information by ROWW admins.
  6. Automatic cancellation policies for refunds in case of cancellations.
  7. Flexibility in managing working hours for hosts.

Challenges

No matter how meticulous the planning, every project encounters its unique set of challenges and obstacles. For ROWW, these difficulties were both internal, relating to technical issues, and external, concerning the business model and market acceptability of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The major challenges faced are detailed below:

Lack of Market Research:

While every founder conducts market research before launching a venture, sometimes even the best strategies can misfire. One significant misstep for ROWW was modeling its app too closely on Western counterparts like TURO, which are well-established in different market dynamics. This approach led to incorporating many predefined conditions and automation processes. For instance, to list a vehicle, hosts were required to submit extensive documentation, including technical reports and car registration card details, for admin approval. This lengthy and complex listing process deterred many potential hosts. Additionally, there was an over-reliance on the app for operations, whereas local car rental companies showed a preference for managing their accounts through a web portal.

Technical Issues:

The foundation of a robust project lies in the quality and architecture of its code. While ROWW aimed to adhere to high standards in these areas, frequent modifications to the core business logic led to an unstable codebase. This instability caused slow response times and triggered a cascade of bugs in each new build, compromising the app’s functionality and user experience.

Limited Budget:

As a startup, the founder had initially secured sufficient funds to develop the product. However, as ROWW confronted resistance in the market, financial resources began to dwindle. With a tightening budget, Dtech, which was responsible for delivering the MVP, faced the challenge of meeting local market needs without compromising on quality or extending timelines—neither of which was viable under the circumstances. Balancing the constraints of time, budget, and quality became an ever-tightening tightrope as the project progressed.

These challenges offered crucial learning opportunities and required innovative, flexible solutions to align the product more closely with market needs and operational realities.

Solution

1. Dtech Systems follows the agile methodology, which emphasizes customer feedback at each development stage. This allows for early problem identification and necessary adjustments. However, sometimes issues can slip through. For instance, the realization that the market dynamics in our launch region differed significantly from Western markets did not emerge until the beta launch stage. Consequently, several adjustments were necessary:

  • Introduction of Mada as a payment method, which is widely used by the local population.
  • Introduction of social logins to facilitate quicker user access.
  • Development of a web portal for hosts to streamline their interactions.
  • Simplification of the vehicle listing process to encourage more host participation.

2. The continuous changes to the core logic initially caused instability within the app. To address these issues, multiple regression cycles and optimization efforts were conducted in parallel with feature development.

To prevent similar problems:

  • Though agile methodology encourages adaptability, we learned that major alterations to core business logic should be approached with caution. Stakeholders were educated about the repercussions of rapid changes based on feedback from a small subset of users.
  • We transitioned to smaller release cycles, which allowed for better management and easier identification and resolution of potential bugs.

3. Addressing the limited budget without compromising on quality or timing required innovative solutions. Initially, it seemed the only option was to cut down on the team. However, based on market demands and budget constraints, a strategic decision was made:

  • focusing on iOS development, which held more potential in our target market, while discontinuing support for Android, where revenue generation was weaker.

These strategic adjustments helped align our product more closely with market realities and customer expectations, ensuring sustainable development within our financial constraints.

Innovations and Customizations

What set ROWW apart in the competitive rental industry were several unique implementations that enhanced user experience and operational flexibility, catering to a diverse, global customer base.

Multi-region Adaptability:

Although initially launched in KSA, ROWW expanded its reach by adding language support for European and UAE markets. A distinctive feature is its global booking capability, which allows users from anywhere in the world to book vehicles with ease. The app displays clear information on time zones and uses local currency at the time of booking—features that many competitors in the market currently lack. This global adaptability ensures a seamless experience for international travelers looking to rent vehicles.

Flexibility in Host Availability:

ROWW has equipped hosts with extensive configuration tools, empowering them to manage their schedules effectively. Hosts can designate specific days as unavailable for bookings and set custom time slots for days they are operational. This level of flexibility not only enhances the host’s ability to control their offerings but also improves the booking experience for users by providing clear, real-time availability.

Enhanced Marketing Tools for Hosts:

To further empower hosts and enhance market penetration, ROWW provides robust marketing tools. Hosts can easily offer discounted rates and have the capability to generate promotional codes. These tools are designed to help hosts attract more customers while simultaneously boosting the app’s downloads and overall sales. This feature serves as a dual benefit for both hosts and the platform, fostering a community-driven growth model.

These unique features have significantly contributed to ROWW’s standout performance, distinguishing it not just as a service provider, but as an innovator in the rental market space.

Implementation

Timeline: 2020-Ongoing Team Involved:

-Project Manager: Sidra Zubair

-Backend Developer: Umer Saleem

-Frontend Developer: Umer Saleem

-QA: Samar

-IOS Developer: Sikander

Results

The following results have been achieved on our journey so far.

  1. Developed an MVP that is highly tailored and responsive to the needs of our target market.
  2. Successfully launched a fully functional web portal that enhances user interaction and management capabilities for hosts.
  3. Successfully onboarded over 50 car rental companies, significantly expanding our network and service availability.
  4. Implemented multi-language support to cater to both local and international users, facilitating a smoother user experience.
  5. Achieved significant user engagement, demonstrated by a high number of app downloads and active users.
  6. Strengthened our backend infrastructure to support scalable growth and ensure reliable service across multiple regions.

Future Plans

While the launch of our MVP in the market has successfully met consumer demands, our journey at ROWW is far from over. Our future plans are ambitious and centered on diversification and expansion. We aim to broaden our fleet to include water and air vehicles, providing a more comprehensive range of transportation options to our customers. Additionally, we are preparing for regional expansion, starting with an anticipated launch in the UAE followed by a strategic entry into the European market. These steps are aligned with our vision to revolutionize the rental industry by offering innovative, diverse, and convenient transportation solutions globally.

Get in Touch

Are you considering developing a similar product, or are you simply seeking some initial advice? We’re here to help. We invite you to book a consultation session with us today and explore how we can assist you in bringing your vision to life.

Reach out for a personalized discussion at your convenience. Let’s get started!

ROWW

A car renting app where the user can rent a car based on its own preferences and list its own car for other users to rent in one app…

Time2020 - PresentPlatformMobile - WebTeam5-6 membersIndustryTechShare
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