What started as an annoyingly-long line at a gas station car wash triggered a business idea for entrepreneurs Rami Hallal and Ralph Choueiry. While waiting, the duo realized that many things are available through apps, from food delivery to flight bookings, and thought-up a practical, time-saving solution for the many people in Beirut who work while their cars sit idle in parking lots.
Since November 2015 the duo have been continuously developing Blink My Car, a car-wash delivery service that works through an app for iOS and Android. Officially launched in January, the company received initial funding from angel investors Al Amir Holdings and are currently going through their second round of seed-funding, meeting with major venture capital funds in Lebanon, with Hallal explaining that they are still too small for a Series A fund. Right now they are ensuring they have the right product/market fit and are figuring out ways to grow without compromising on quality.
Blink my Car works with tech-partners Keeward and outsources labour from other companies, something they didn’t initially do. They first began hiring their own employees but soon realized that running operations was too difficult and moved to a contractor model, working with contracted partners that take a cut of the price and meet Blink My Car’s standards of quality and ethics.
“A few others started [offering the car wash delivery idea]at the same time we did, but through a hotline,” Hallal says, explaining that this is actually in their interest. “We want more [companies that offer delivery car washes]to exist so they can partner with us. This way we can strip ourselves of operations and focus on other aspects of the business, like tech and marketing,” he adds.
The service is currently available in Beirut, but given the increasing requests from the Greater Beirut area, Rabieh and Jounieh, they hope to expand there soon, as well as take the app to other markets like Kuwait, the UAE or Saudi Arabia. They’ve also teamed up with Beirut Digital District, offering all tenants a 20 percent discount on car washes.
The car washers arrive to destinations on bikes, which makes the service faster and more green. In an effort to save water, the company also uses a waterless washing technique common in the US and Europe. The washing products give cars a polished effect that’s more effective than a regular water wash and lasts longer, claims Hallal. Payments can be made in cash upon delivery, or through the app, but Halal says the later is a better option because it makes it more convenient to give an exact amount without having to deal with tips. Plus in-app payment would make it possible for them to give discounts.
So far the app has close to 5,000 downloads and a satisfaction rating of 4.6/5, and the company is growing 40-45 percent every month, according to Hallal. The app recently got even more attention thanks to a funny viral video starring Lebanese comedian Fouad Yammine. Since customers were asking a lot of questions about Blink My Car, the team wanted to answer them in a fun way, creating a lot of social media buzz.
This article is part of Executive Life’s coverage of entrepreneurship in Lebanon.