Published on June 14th, 2014 | by SayginYalcin

0 drives through online success

Watch this video here: Saygin Yalcin on Business Pulse discussing

After 19 people showed up to kick the tires of Saygin Yalcin’s car over a period of six weeks and still refused to buy it, the serial entrepreneur decided something must be done. His answer:

He promises his new startup will buy absolutely any car, in any condition, guaranteed. Within thirty minutes. 

It sounds almost magical, but the numbers speak for themselves. delivered over 300,000 car valuations to consumers in the first eight months of operations. Its many inspection stations around the UAE see around 300 inspection appointments a day. 

Yalcin backs up his claim by breaking down the process. “Getting an instant evaluation online takes around 15 seconds. Following this, the seller makes an appointment for a free car inspection at any of our nationwide branches. The inspection takes 20-25 minutes, with the last few minutes used in the offer process, making a contract and taking care of all paperwork.”

Payment is made instantly. “We pay you via a bank transfer. We have bank accounts in almost every major bank in the country, so we can transfer to your account very quickly.” 


The almost magical trick in fact has a well-thought-out business model behind it. Any car, Yalcin explains, is useable by some business or other. Even junk cars have worth as scrap. The trick is to identify all the uses a car could be put to and find reliable business partners in each category to supply to.

“We find the best distribution channels and sign contracts with them. So we already know what use we’re going to put any vehicle that comes to us. We make the offer accordingly.”

And the offer range is staggeringly diverse – from million dirham exotics to one dirham. “We buy any car – damaged, written off, brand new, exotic, sports. We don’t sell bad cars to consumers. We have business partners who use our car inventories and they specialize in every single use you can put a car to. So even if a car needs to be junked, we pass it on to our partners.” 

Once explained, Yalcin’s model is genius in its simplicity. acts as a distribution hub for cars. All of them are passed in bulk onto businesses that can use them, depending on category and condition. And that frees to focus on its core business – inspecting cars.

“We know the car’s condition and what it’s worth – far better in many cases than the owner. We have an instant valuation database with millions of records. We developed this AI in-house. It knows the market value of any car in real time and is capable of learning,” Yalcin says. 

The most Yalcin has paid for a car is AED 1.4 million (USD 380,952). The least – AED 1.00 (USD 0.27). But who’d want to sell their car at just a dirham? 

“You’d be surprised. Many times, owners realize their cars are liabilities. It costs more to run the car than to sell it. So they come to us and we pay them the symbolic value of a dirham. We’re basically saving them money that they’d have to pay the municipality to dispose of their car,” he says.  


Yalcin is a serial entrepreneur with a number of online startups under the belt. Born and raised in Germany, the MBA graduate founded his first company in 2008: an online fashion brand that he sold on to the largest Russian online fashion store. Post that, he looked into members-only shopping clubs. Opportunity beckoned and he moved to Dubai in 2009 to set up, which was successfully sold to in 2012. 

After handing over his managerial roles at and, Yalcin was ready to get hands on with new ideas again. was set up using personal funds from previous successes.

SPEEDING TO VISIBILITY has nine branches across the UAE. The company also has a partnership with Emarat Fasttrack, which sees SellAnyCar employees use the facilities to perform inspections.  

The partnership is win-win, says Yalcin. “We get to be within easy reach of our customers. And Emarat gets traffic through their shops. We’re the number one car buyer in terms of traffic. We get up to 300 appointment requests for inspections a day. No one does that number in the automotive industry in the country, or regionally.”


The number one challenge for SellAnyCar was to gain consumer trust and become an established name. “Consumer trust leads to better conversion between inspection and sales. It takes a bit of time. But we’ve managed to become part of the top five used car dealers in the UAE within eight months of operation.”

Besides the technology challenges, and the artificial intelligence systems we had to build, suffered growing pains common to most startups. “We exceeded the business plan multi-fold. And that comes with capacity needs that can’t be fulfilled instantly. We need to find the best people, in the time and budget available. [Around] 40% of my time is actually spent recruiting.”


Yalcin’s gigantic car database gives him savant-like information on the UAE’s car market. He trots figures out casually, apparently unaware of their value to anoraks.

“Our database shows the car market here is skewed towards new cars. The average age is 2007-2008. Less than 1.4% of cars are older than 15 years. The average value of cars in the UAE is almost double that of those in other countries,” he says. 

Some tidbits are astounding. For instance, that 52% of cars imported into the UAE from the US and Canada have officially been classified as junk. “It’s not us saying that – they have a formal insurance certificate stating they’re write offs. They might have been in floods, accidents, what have you. We can track all that. We’ve had so many consumers finding out the truth here after they’ve been sold cars by friends and family,” he says.


Expansion plans are flowing thick and fast. The business is launching in Turkey, while getting ready to launch in a potential 150 locations across Saudi Arabia. Yalcin’s numerically inclined mind tosses out market facts. “Turkey is the largest car market in the MENA region. The number of cars sold last month in Istanbul alone matches the cars sold in the entire [Saudi Arabia].”

He says is a long-term project for him. He’s not looking to exit anytime soon. “This is so much of an opportunity. We’re only just touching on phase one, i.e. building the sourcing channel and the car buying service. That alone will take years.”

Source: Hisham Wyne, Business Pulse,

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About the Author

Saygin is the Founder & CEO of the Middle East's (ME) first & largest car buying service, and Founder of the first & largest online private shopping club in the ME,, which has been acquired by, making him Partner at the and Jabbar Internet Group, becoming the largest ecommerce company in the Arab world, with 3000+ employees. In its largest acquisition outside the US to date, has acquired Group. He has been selected as a UBS Industry Leader, a network of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals. He was also Advisory Board Member & Academic Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the Canadian University of Dubai. He was referred to as "the region's online business guru" by the National newspaper in the UAE, while Arabian Business named him as "one of the region's finest young entrepreneurs and a major part of the entrepreneurial scene in recent years". Fortune magazine (mag) named him in the 40 under 40 list, as one of the most influential young people in business, Entrepreneur mag ME awarded, with Saygin at its helm, as the "Fastest Growing Company in the ME", while the National newspaper sees it among a handful of tech companies to "have the potential to break the $1bn barrier". In a cover story, Entrepreneur mag ME titled him as "undoubtedly one of the youngest & most successful internet entrepreneurs in the ME”, awarded as "Technology Innovator of the Year”, while Khaleej Times awarded him as the Technology Leader. Gulf Business selected him as 1 of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs in ME. In a cover story, Arabian Business counts him as 1 of the most successful entrepreneurs to call Dubai home. During the World Government Summit, HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed, Minister of Interior of the UAE, presented Saygin as an inspiring story for the country, in the presence of world leaders, incl. HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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