Today we’d like to introduce you to Bora Hamamcioglu.
Bora, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey. I came to the United States to attend Bentley University in 2007. After having graduated from Bentley, I decided to get my masters degree and graduated from Georgetown University with a masters of Real Estate & Finance. I moved to Miami in 2014 and started preparing the business model for CarHopper in 2015. After a year, in 2016 I launched CarHopper in Miami.
CarHopper started as a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace through which individual car owners could list and rent out their personal vehicle to generate extra income. As we started gaining traction we noticed that most of the “car owners” on carhopper had more than 5 cars listed on their profile. We set up meetings with them to understand their use case and learned that these “car owners” are actually owners/managers of independently owned local car rental companies. We also noticed that these members had the fastest response time to booking requests and highest approval rates among renters. These car owners informed us that they are using CarHopper as a lead generator and online booking platform, the same way hotels and big car rental companies use Expedia and booking.com. They also told us that they have no way to take their fleet online without carhopper because they are not tech companies with marketing knowledge. We thought this was very interesting and decided to focus our business model on becoming a booking platform exclusively for local and independently owned car rental companies. As the business started evolving we decided to focus on luxury cars only due to higher ROIs. We started CarHopper in Miami but now grew the company to 8 cities (Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, NYC, Hamptons, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando).
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We’ve had a ton of challenges we had to overcome. I would be worried if we didn’t have any: Easy come, easy go! The past 2 years have been extremely intensive for me and the team with very long hours, little to no weekends. We have faced many challenges that we have successfully been able to overcome thanks to our hardword and commitment.
When we were first building the platform due to budget restrictions we had to be very careful with how much money we spent. Therefore, the lowest hanging fruit for us to develop the product while being budget friendly was to hire offshore freelancers.
Managing projects, different time zones, and freelancers from different cultures/background was very exhausting.
Another struggle I personally faced when building CarHopper was while listing vehicles. Because none of our early car rental partners had HD and HQ photos of their cars, and our budget was limited, I personally went to take every car photo being listed on CarHopper. It was summer time, outdoor, 10 hours per day photo shoots at about 100 degrees.
Pivoting our business model from the old business model (peer-to-peer) into the new one was a very good but difficult choice for us. It means that our entire branding, marketing campaign, and technical back-end had to change. Meeting deadlines required a lot of sleepless nights.
As an online marketplace balancing supply and demand is crucial. It is a constant struggle to make sure both parties are satisfied. When you have too much demand and cannot respond to it because you do not have enough cars, your customers get unhappy.
When you have too many cars and not enough demand then your suppliers do not take you seriously. Luckily, we were able to balance both sides of the marketplace by keeping both consumers and our suppliers happy.
Please tell us about CarHopper.
We are an online marketplace for luxury car rentals. Think about us as the Expedia for luxury car rentals. We partner with the best rated local and independently owned luxury car rental providers in each market, father the inventory and display it in real time. Our members can book any luxury car available on CarHopper right on our website & mobile application.
We are known for revolutionizing the way luxury car rentals are made. Today, if you want to book a regular car (Toyota to BMW) you know you can count on Avis or an online travel agency. But if you want access to a really luxurious car you do not know where to start. These transactions are made offline, either on the phone, or in person. We are taking the entire process online.
What makes us most proud as a company is seeing travelers from all over the world (Australia, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi etc) find CarHopper, use our service and leave positive reviews about us.
We had a newlywed couple from Australia that travelled to Las Vegas for their honeymoon and booked a Lamborghini for their trip. The fact that we were part of such a special trip for them is really rewarding.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood are family dinners at my grandmother’s house with everyone sitting around the table. Being away from my family, and having lost my grandparents make me miss those days every day and remind me how fortunate I am to have been raised by such loving parents.
- Address: 1101 Brickell Avenue,
South Tower, Suite 800,
Miami, FL 33131
- Website: www.carhopper.co
- Phone: 3054241680