Get involved in a fender-bender and you are bound to lose out – if not in money, then at least in time. Arranging a recovery vehicle, filing insurance claims and visiting garages to get your car fixed takes a lot of effort.
But one company in the UAE is trying to change all that by bringing vehicle owners, insurers, road assistance companies and repair shops together on an artificial intelligence-enabled digital platform. The aim is to take the hassle out of the accident claims cycle and automate processes between industry stakeholders, allowing customers to handle and track every step of the process online from the comfort of their homes or offices.
Ahmed Eissa is the co-founder and chief executive of Motori, which has been launched in Abu Dhabi in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Eissa saw a technology gap in the insurance industry, especially in the post-insurance sale process. There were plenty of apps and platforms serving customers before a policy is sold. However, there was no technology to handle remote, post-sale interaction between industry stakeholders.
The Cairo University computer science graduate says the company is looking to use technology to help vehicle owners, insurers and garage workers, which is all the more useful in the age of Covid-19, when social distancing is paramount.
“We are trying to minimise the effort and interactions of vehicle owners with others, especially these days when staying at home and [minimal] contact with others is most important,” he says.
“We are also enabling remote working for insurance companies [and other industry stakeholders] helping them to communicate with the vehicle owners online.”
The idea was “how to convert a threat into an opportunity and that is exactly what we did with Motori,” Mr Eissa, says. “The Covid-19 crisis emphasises the importance of technology”, he adds.
The venture was conceived in January and the start-up was fully incorporated in Masdar City Free Zone by the end of March, with remote help from Masdar’s team during the initial days of lockdown in the emirate.
Despite being a new entrant into the market, the response Motori received from industry stakeholders has been “great”, he says.
It has launched with two services: automation for accident claims and automatic claim reconciliation between insurance companies. More services are on the way – some for vehicle owners and some for insurance companies in the UAE, Mr Eissa says.
“In the next few days, we will be launching a mobile app on Google Play and the Apple App Store for vehicle owners,” he says. “The app will be directly linked to insurance companies and garages and the claims cycle will be handled through that platform.”
Vehicle owners can register on the App with their traffic file number and immediately be linked to a database that tells them which insurance company they are registered with and what the perks of their policy are. The platform guides users through every step of the process, from filing claims to getting their cars back after repairs.
“With the mobile app you will get notified every step of the way from vehicle received, repair started and vehicle ready for collection,” says Mr Eissa.
The free service will eliminate the need to visit either the insurer’s office or interact with the garage to sign documents and make payments, if required. The company is currently working with 45 insurance companies and about 500 garages across the UAE and aims to partner with more stakeholders, including government agencies, as it expands its services.
“We have contracts with insurance companies, workshops, road assistance companies and we are providing them services to reduce their operational costs and charging them per transaction,” Mr Eissa said.
Safe City Group – an Abu Dhabi based technology provider for smart cities which owns Motori – has so far spent about Dh6 million to develop the platform. It has allocated Dh10m in total to put the company through its first year of operations, Mr Eissa says.
“The business plan was to start with internal investment from Safe City Group … [and] establish Motori as benchmark of service,” he says. The next step is to bring in venture capital and other investors as it charts a course for expansion first across the region and then globally, he says.
“Until the end of this year we will continue with our internal investment. [At the] start of the next year … we acquire VC [investment],” he says.
Given the current uncertainty in the market due to Covid-19, it is “reasonable and logical” for Motori to first build its business before looking for investment next year, he explains.
The company is already looking at expansion across the region and is eyeing Saudi Arabia as its next market, before slowly expanding into other GCC markets. Motori eventually plans to create a foothold in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, and then look for a presence beyond the region, he adds.
Q&A with Motori co-founder and chief executive, Ahmed Eissa
What already successful start-up do you wish you had started?
Careem and Souq: I consider these two companies as a role model for any start-up as they did successful exits – both of them started in the UAE.
What is your next big dream to make happen?
Making Motori a success, taking its valuation to $500m at least. Actually, it is my first milestone to be achieved in the next three years. My real dream is to be the next unicorn in the Middle East after Careem. I believe it is very realistic, but definitely not easy. Motori is the first platform connecting all vehicle stakeholders together on a single AI-enabled smart platform. Our success in the UAE will be the starting point to go to the whole region, even global.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to be among the group of successful shareholders and entrepreneurs who have introduced innovative products and disrupted markets in different sectors, making a positive impact to society and increasing our region's technological capabilities.
If you could change one thing in your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?
I would say doing many things and focusing on different directions at the same time is not a good strategy. I did that in the past and I have learned that focus is the key for any successful entrepreneur.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
There is definitely a negative side: impact on everyday life and businesses in general. However, being a technology firm, serving sector-specific needs during a crisis of this magnitude, we are already seeing a positive impact both in terms of our business and how we are contributing to the government’s efforts of controlling the virus by maintaining social distancing.
What advice would you give to other start-ups, especially during times of crisis?
It is important to focus on providing solutions to help customers reduce the cost of using technology – this is the future and an absolute essential for the success of any start-up.