Why buy when you can rent what you need at a fraction of the price?
That’s the philosophy that led to the creation of BorrowMe, an online marketplace that lists for rent all kinds of items people need in their daily lives – from power tools and ladders to kayaks and board games. society.
“The idea is simple. If you only need something for a short time, just borrow it,” says Nour Sabri, 43, who founded the company just over six months ago.
Residents of the UAE can borrow products at an agreed price and return them when completed, he said, adding that the rental agreement can be concluded securely through the company’s platform.
Meanwhile, owners can earn extra cash by renting out their unused everyday items.
Mr. Sabri launched the online platform in August last year. Since then, BorrowMe has indexed more than 1,100 articles and recorded 12,000 visits to the site. Among the more unusual ads are an air dancing clown, a wood-fired pizza oven and a luxury yacht. The goal, Sabri said, is to have at least 3,000 articles and 30,000 site visits by the end of 2022.
BorrowMe has also onboarded 30 item rental businesses in the UAE, and the goal is to have 100 of these retailers join the platform by the end of the year, Sabri said. .
The company’s ultimate vision is to be the Amazon of lending and borrowing items in the Middle East, says the entrepreneur.
Mr. Sabri’s inspiration for starting BorrowMe was two global companies: British company Fat Llama, a peer-to-peer rental platform, and Dutch sharing platform Peerby.
“Both of these start-ups have strong investor support and are very well funded. It gave me the confidence to replicate this model in the UAE. »
Rental marketplaces are loosely based on the idea of collaborative consumption. It offers people the traditional benefits of ownership without having to pay large sums of money for items. The concept is gaining traction as users become more aware of the impact waste has on the environment.
The global sharing economy is growing 30% year over year, according to PwCand is expected to reach $335 billion by 2025, up from $15 billion in 2013.
The GCC’s sharing economy was valued at $10.7 billion in 2016, with the UAE holding the largest share at $5.57 billion, according to Strategy& estimates.
More than 10% of consumers in the UAE have already tried to rent a product in the past year, mainly due to its affordability and not requiring a long-term commitment, says Sandeep Ganediwalla, managing partner of Redseer Middle East, an Indian research firm.
“Increasing sustainability is also becoming important in consumer decision-making,” he points out.
This adoption can “more than double in the next two to three years, if the issues of trust, authenticity, hygiene and high-quality customer experience build,” Ganediwalla says.
But these markets face several challenges in growing beyond niche communities and geographies. The average value of a transaction is often low, as is the frequency of tenants on the demand side, trade analysts say.
And unlike shopping-based platforms, the owners supplying the goods have to coordinate logistics back and forth, which can lead to friction.
“The product rental industry also needs to address hygiene issues, depending on the category it operates in, to unlock growth,” Ganediwalla adds.
BorrowMe is accessible on the web and on mobile phones. Owners must upload a photo of the item they wish to rent, along with a description and price. Borrowers can schedule a rental for as long as they want and then must return the item in the same condition at the end of the period.
Both parties agree to a convenient time and place for the handover. Built-in secure messaging makes it easy for landlords to communicate with borrowers, according to the company.
Almost anything you own can be leased or sold permanently if you prefer, whether it’s a camera that’s gathered dust or a bike currently locked away in a warehouse, the company says.
“It’s easy and, frankly, it’s fun,” says Sabri.
As a next step, he plans to leverage Airbnb hotels and management companies with a dedicated page on the company’s website to attract tourists.
“Tourists can simply borrow many of the items they need when traveling, saving the trouble of carrying them and, more importantly, buying them,” he adds.
BorrowMe has already signed a preliminary deal with Houst, a UK-based Airbnb management company, which has around 250 properties in Dubai.
Iraqi by birth, Mr. Sabri grew up in New Zealand and has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 2008. He holds an MBA from London Business School and has worked with global companies such as IBM, Bain & Company, EY, PwC and HP. , in many countries.
He previously co-founded another start-up in New Zealand in 2006 called MetalAndSteel.com — a B2B platform specializing in the trading of metal and steel products and services.
Mr. Sabri initially funded BorrowMe with around $150,000 of his own money, before raising $50,000 from an angel investor. The money was used to purchase the BorrowMe domain, create branding, design and build the website, and support business development, the founder explains. He also hired a search engine optimization expert to improve BorrowMe’s online ranking.
“I am now looking for $500,000 in additional funds over the next 12 months. I will use these funds for technology development, marketing campaigns and operational expansion,” says Sabri.
The start-up currently operates in the United Arab Emirates and eventually plans to expand across the GCC and Egypt. “I’d like to start with Saudi Arabia next, because it’s a much larger country and has a progressive view on trade expansion,” says Sabri.
To fund BorrowMe’s ambitious expansion plan, Sabri plans to raise an additional $3 million over the next two to five years.
When asked if he plans to eventually list the company on the stock exchange, Mr. Sabri replied: “Absolutely. Once we are successful with our business model and gain momentum, we plan to IPO BorrowMe. »
Currently, BorrowMe does not charge any fees or commissions for transactions on its platform. But he intends to start charging a 20% commission on all trades within about a year. “I plan to start monetizing the business in about a year,” he says.
In addition to charging a commission on each transaction, Sabri plans to start offering an item delivery service as well as product insurance to diversify his revenue streams.
“Getting businesses to advertise on our site will be another way to generate revenue.
Plans are also underway to collaborate with global e-commerce platform Shopify. “We will develop BorrowMe plugins on Shopify. And we will charge a monthly subscription fee to access our website through Shopify,” says Sabri.
Q&A with Nour Sabri, Founder and CEO of BorrowMe
How has the pandemic affected your business?
People seemed a little reluctant to meet other people in person, and BorrowMe’s business model depends on that kind of interaction. This has resulted in a slow start, but we expect much higher volume once the pandemic is no longer a factor.
If you had the opportunity to start all over again, what would you do differently?
Instead of investing so much money in technology development, we would have allocated more funds to marketing and business development. Also, even if hindsight is 20/20, it would have been better to have launched before the pandemic.
How do you see the company in the next five years?
I see BorrowMe becoming the Amazon for lending and borrowing items in the Middle East. We currently operate in the United Arab Emirates and plan to expand to all GCC countries and Egypt.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from creating BorrowMe?
At BorrowMe, we’ve learned that having great technology isn’t enough to build a successful business. All great companies need marketing of equal quality, which is why having a great marketer is invaluable.
If you could go back and change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Compared to C2C sharing, B2B and B2C are less complicated. Item rental companies generally have more guarantees that items will be in excellent condition and transactions are more secure. There is less risk of conflict between tenants and suppliers.
Company Name: Borrow me (Borrowme.com)
The meeting has started: August 2021
Founder: Nour Sabri
Based: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Sector: E-commerce / Marketplace
Cut: Two employees
Funding stage: Seed investment
Initial investment: $200,000
Investors: Amr Manaa (Director, PwC Middle East)
Updated: February 28, 2022, 5:58 a.m.