Exclusive Q&A with Eslam Hussein, CEO and Co-Founder of Invygo

Invygo, an app-based car subscription service based in Dubai, recently announced its Pre-Series A investment led by reputed investors EQ2 VenturesClass 5 Global, and 500 Startups

Following the investment announcement, MAGNiTT took the opportunity to catch up with CEO and Co-Founder of Invygo, Eslam Hussein to learn more about this exciting startup.

Q1. Tell us briefly about Invygo. How does it work?

Invygo is a car subscription app that allows users to book a car, sign their documents, and get it delivered to their location the same day. Users pay an all-inclusive monthly subscription fee and can swap cars, or change their subscription anytime after the first 30 days.

Q2. This is the first app-based car subscription company in the region. Why do you think it’s taken so long to bring this model to MENA?

The MENA region has witnessed a recent shift in consumer behavior driven by a younger, more tech-savvy population, increased credit card and technology penetration unlocked by companies like Careem and Souq, as well as the growing popularity of subscription services like Netflix and Spotify. This has led to a demand from customers for more flexible, convenient ways to consume the products they would previously have owned. Invygo’s mission is to bring this convenience and flexibility to accessing cars.

Q3. What is your big-picture vision for the future of Invygo?

Invygo’s mission is to end the burden of ownership. Starting with cars, we want to give people the opportunity to have access to anything that they want without being tied down by loan payments, maintenance, and worrying about selling when they want something new. In the future, we hope to provide subscriptions for a variety of assets.

Q4. It is quite extraordinary that you managed to raise this round with the current COVID-19 crisis. Was this round in the works from much earlier? How did COVID-19 affect your fundraising efforts?

While we already knew we were going to look for additional funding, the COVID-19 situation changed the market. Across the startup ecosystem, the appetite for risk was diminishing. However, our investors saw the value of our business model, which provides flexibility (which has become all the more important in today’s world). This reduced the difficulty we encountered in raising funds at this time.

Q5. Have you seen a drop in the number of car subscription plans due to COVID-19? If so, how did you overcome this to ensure a continuation of growth?

While some users chose to return their cars since they started working from home, this is part of the value proposition we offer, so we’re confident that these users will continue to choose subscription over buying a car (since they would have been stuck paying for loans, insurance, and parking even though they weren’t driving their cars).

We also launched new features to increase the flexibility of our subscriptions for our users, including a lower mileage option that only includes 1000km, allowing them to save money since they were driving less, and a swap feature, allowing them to downsize their cars with a few taps. All in all, while the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shock to both us and our partners, it highlighted the importance of using a service that molds itself to your needs and life circumstances, and forced us to innovate in order to make Invygo an even more flexible transportation solution than before.

Q6. How do you think the current climate will affect the way we commute in the future? Do you think there’ll be any changes?

We are seeing people valuing their personal space more than before due to the current situation, making them more likely to want to use their own personal vehicles rather than public or shared transportation options.

Q7. What were you looking for from your investors, beyond capital?

We look for investors that are a cultural fit and believe in our vision, so it is all about mutual connection and respect. We look for investors that have an understanding and operational experience with our business model and industry. We value investors who are embedded in the ecosystem and can help connect us to talent, other investors, or even other entrepreneurs. Finally, we believe in investors with a long term focus on their investment, on our company, and on how Invygo can play a role in permanently changing consumer behavior.

Q8. What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling Invygo in MENA / beyond?

Perception will be one of our largest challenges to overcome. As long as owning a car is seen as a status symbol, some customers will always choose to buy, rather than enjoy the freedom and flexibility that subscription can offer them.

Q9. Finally, what advice would you give to yourself five years ago? 

I would tell myself to take time to reflect and figure out your “Why”. It is tough to give up on whatever it is that you’re trying to do when your "why" is more significant than you as an individual.

Are you a startup looking for investment? Apply for funding to 75+ investors now

With Mawdoo3, Jamalon, and HyperPay raising a combined $33M in total funding in 2019, it was a record year by funding for the Jordanian startup ecosystem. Learn more about one of MENA's oldest ecosystems in our 2019 Jordan Venture Investment Report.