The SME Story: Hasib Khan, founder and CEO of Udrive
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The SME Story: Hasib Khan, founder and CEO of Udrive

The SME Story: Hasib Khan, founder and CEO of Udrive

Unlike traditional rental services, with Udrive no humans are involved in the rental process which is managed via the app and you pay for only what you use

Udrive Hasib Khan

How did the idea for Udrive come about?

I was running a traditional rental car agency. One day, one of my staff needed a car for an hour to do some office work and we had none of our own cars available. Then it struck me: Why are we not fractionalising the rental experience to one minute or one hour with quicker access all around the city? That is when our own internal frustration kickstarted the product you see today.

Give us a sense of the scale of your business. 

Just prior to Covid-19, we had over 550 cars and were about to expand to 1,000 cars in the UAE, 800 cars in Saudi Arabia and 800 in Turkey. Today we are at 300 cars after natural de-fleeting of our older fleet and are back into the growth mode. In the next two months, we will be back to pre-Covid numbers in the UAE and are projected to reach profitability.

What is the USP of Udrive?

Our service is unique compared to traditional rental because we have no humans involved in the rental process, your experience is completely managed via the app and you pay for only what you use, nothing more. You do not need to go to the rental office to get access to a car. The access to the car is your mobile. This is the biggest reason we adopted almost 200,000 customers in the UAE.

How has the pandemic impacted your business?

Udrive was shut down due to the sanitisation process of the UAE which meant that our cars remained idle on the streets for approximately two months. It took us another six weeks to replace the batteries, clean the cars, sanitise and prepare them for customer use again. But due to the pandemic, we had the time to re-evaluate our strategy of “growth at all costs” to a “growth for profit” and this meant making tough decisions about what our post-Covid fleet should look like.

Tell us about the entrepreneurial work you undertook in Afghanistan before Udrive.

Whilst I was finishing high school in Hamburg, I was given some of the family food business responsibilities.  I went to Afghanistan and got into conversations with companies that were looking for foodstuff from Germany and [also] locally in Afghanistan. I started supplying them with foodstuff found in Afghanistan, and I was asked to handle the transportation for it too.

I discovered that transportation was something that I enjoyed more than selling food, due to the hectic and operational toughness it had. I moved away from the food business and began focusing on transportation. I became one of the biggest transportation and logistics providers for the army in Afghanistan, working for the US Army, British Ministry of Defence, German Bundeswehr and many more, whilst being based in Dubai which was one of the safe cities close to Afghanistan.

Do you also have other businesses, apart from Udrive, across logistics, real estate and F&B?

I still do have customers that I manage in Afghanistan for logistics. We provide them warehouse facilities with end-to-end service on the ground. Real estate is always a safe haven for investments. Along with my two brothers, I have developed a portfolio of properties in Germany. F&B remains a family business in Germany – we have stores that sell oriental products in Hamburg.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made that you can advise other entrepreneurs to avoid? 

Don’t assume if [things are] great, that it will always be that way. I was very fortunate to have a great advisor supporting me before Covid, who made it clear even back in January that if Covid spreads past Asia into Europe, it will only be a matter of time before it impacts our revenue. Because of his foresight, we were preparing our strategies and making choices quite early on to save the business.

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