Buying a car is one of the worst financial decisions you can make, according to Eslam Hussein, MBA entrepreneur and founder of tech startup Invygo.
“The process of buying a car is a time consuming process, and the cost of ownership and maintenance on a depreciating asset is ridiculous,” Eslam explains.
Invygo aims to remove the commitment, stress, and financial strain of owning a car, allowing customers to subscribe to cars on a one-to-nine month basis, with all servicing and maintenance taken care of. It’s Eslam’s big plan to permanently disrupt the archaic car industry in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he grew up—the first stop on his planned expansion across the Middle East.
But it all started with a simple idea, and an email.
A tech startup to end car ownership
Eslam’s career in Dubai immersed him deeply in the automotive world, where at different times he had worked in various roles at CDK and Cox Automotive, leading IT providers in car dealership.
He increasingly recognized the outdated ideas and systems that propped up the industry, which one day were destined to collapse. On the one hand, car ownership is stressful and costly, with every vehicle at some point down the line ending up on the scrapheap. On the other hand, people can’t live without cars, particularly in a region like the Middle East and North Africa, where public transport is limited.
His desire to disrupt and his interest in entrepreneurship overlapped—he realized that he wanted to do something to impact it.
“I felt like I wanted to build something that was bigger than me, to have a legacy in something that can really impact the communities I work in,” Eslam remembers.
But he needed a deeper knowledge of business, and he wanted to expand his network from outside of the Middle East. “I knew if I really wanted to do more about this, then I needed an MBA,” he says.
The advantage of an online MBA
He was faced with the conundrum of many MBA applicants—not wanting to give up his job or put his work on hold. The Global Online MBA at IE Business School, however, offered the perfect alternative.
The blended course is split between online components (around 70% of the curriculum), and campus commitments (the other 30%), meaning candidates get the best of both the flexibility of an online program, and the networking and direct access of a full-time program.
For Eslam, it also meant he could apply what he was learning in real time to his job, seeing the direct impact it had on his skills. More than applying it, he could also challenge it.
“That's something students don't think about—not everything you learn is a rule, you have to challenge it and think about applying it to your current environment,” Eslam advises.
The idea for Invygo
His idea for Invygo came about during the online MBA program. He was taking an entrepreneurship module, which challenged him to think of a global challenge and propose a business solution to answer it.
He had been pondering the idea of a car subscription service in Dubai for a while, and he typed his thoughts out on an email to his entrepreneurship professor. Her reply?
“She said—I think you’re really on to something, and you really need to keep pushing it,” Eslam recalls, “One thing led to another, and I realized, if I really believe in this idea, I need to quit my job.”
Like that, Invygo was born out of nothing, and quickly grown through his network and MBA class at IE. From speaking to classmates who had worked in or founded their own startups, to talking to professors who took his classes, Eslam, still based in Dubai, was supported the whole way by the ecosystem from IE.
“That’s the beauty of IE—it stretches far beyond the campus in Madrid.”
Building and growing his tech startup
The next steps of Invygo are the most exciting, and most challenging, for Eslam.
First, it’s about scaling. He’s looking to quickly grow the number of the app’s users, as well as expand into new territories in Saudi Arabia. This will require learning about the region and understanding its different needs.
Second, it’s about growing and sourcing talent, filling the company with, as he describes them, “people who are a lot smarter than us”.
Success or failure is tricky to predict for a tech startup—but the demand is clearly there, and Eslam is confident about Invygo’s success.
“We live in a world which is the end of ownership—it’s all about subscriptions,” Eslam notes, “This is the on-demand economy.”