The SME Story: Eslam Hussein, CEO and co-founder of invygo

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The SME Story: Eslam Hussein, CEO and co-founder of invygo
© Motivate Publishing Eslam Hussein, CEO and co-founder of invygo

What is the USP of invygo?

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Invygo was developed with a mission to unlock vehicle access in the MENAPT region, which surprisingly has one of the lowest global vehicle penetration rates (140 cars/1,000 people). In comparison, Brazil and Russia have a vehicle penetration rate of 260 and 300 respectively. From experience, the primary reason for this is the lack of financial inclusion. With only 18 per cent of adults in MENAPT having a bank loan and 57 per cent having a bank account, lenders find it risky to fund depreciating assets when individuals don’t have a credit record. Cars also have high service costs and are often written off easily, adding to financing risk.

This is where car subscription is truly transformative, by giving people access to cars with no commitments and zero risk. Users only need a smartphone to book a car from invygo’s 40,000 cars across 50 brands, and have doorstep delivery within 24 hours, with the option to swap every month.

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Invygo has been through a few accelerators including Misk 500, Google for Startups and in5 Dubai. What has been your biggest takeaway from them?

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Being a part of the region’s biggest accelerators fast-tracked our growth. Access to mentors, industry leaders and local market experts refined our approach for expansion and customer acquisition. In5 Dubai was where we started, giving us the early-stage validation we needed to launch. Misk 500 gave us unique insights into Saudi Arabia and connected us to important stakeholders. Google for Startups was a game changer for our product, helping us evolve our technical capabilities and build a future-fit product.

Give us a business overview of invygo’s operations.

Invygo grew 9x from April 2020 to the end of 2021. Since launch, we’ve raised $4.4m from global and regional investors. We have 25 employees, with engineering being our largest department. Up to 25 per cent of our engineers are women, something we are incredibly proud of. Also, women account for 46 per cent of our customer base, and this number is growing.

You recently relocated to Saudi Arabia. What potential does that market hold for invygo?

World Bank data shows that only 14 per cent of adults in Saudi accessed loans from commercial banks. Low auto financing and low credit reliability rates act as a barrier to car access. With 60 per cent of a car’s value lost in the first five years, ownership remains risky. With invygo, we provide cars that require zero commitments. Our all-inclusive pricing makes subscription a better option compared to leasing or ownership. With one of the youngest populations in the region, we are ensuring that these digital natives [in Saudi] can now access a car directly from their smartphones.

What are your expansion plans?

Our expansion plans have focused on three areas – new customers, new partners and hiring the best engineering talent. A large part of our customer growth is organic. This has also helped attract new dealers and leasing companies who are able to move inventory faster than before. Lastly, we know the importance of having robust engineering capabilities and that is a priority investment area.

We are exploring new markets in the MENAPT region. These countries have a low motorisation rate due to high costs of ownership and invygo intends to change that.

What is the steepest learning curve you’ve experienced when it comes to being an entrepreneur?

As a founder, you soon realise that entrepreneurship isn’t an easy journey. You have a responsibility to your customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Founders don’t have a job description and must be more hands-on than everyone else, wear multiple hats, and be able to pivot fast. Entrepreneurs must also attract and retain exceptional talent.

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