Interview by US-China Investment News corresponded Li Hu
1.) How did you guys come up with the idea for Lalamove? Did something happen to spark the idea?
Lalamove started in Hong Kong based on the idea of traditional logistic call centers. These centers used to be quite sophisticated back in the day, where a person would call the center to get a dispatch vehicle. By leveraging digital technology and the sharing economy, we saw that Lalamove’s technology could help with a number of things: minimizing communication time, increasing speed and fulfillment by tracking our drivers, thereby significantly improving delivery through user experience. While Lalamove started as something tailored for Hong Kong, we found that our idea was incredibly scalable. Although there’s been a learning curve, we’ve so far been able to find the same success replicating our model across many other countries.
2.) I see that you guys are currently in Bangkok, Manila, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City. Why did you guys pick these cities? Was there specific strategic reasons?And where do you plan to expand to next?
Lalamove creates value by improving utilization of delivery assets, making delivery faster, simpler, and more efficient. Thus our service can be valuable in any city in need of more efficient local logistics, which is relevant to many places across SEA. For us we will prioritize anywhere with high population, and with the sufficient mobile internet structure to support what we do.
We will still be focusing within the region in the coming year, but we believe this model can actually apply to anywhere with less-than-optimal utilization of delivery vehicles.
3.) The website talks about leveraging the “sharing economy” and solving a logistical problem.The sharing economy is currently huge in the US with companies like Uber/Lyft, AirBnB, TaskRabbit, WeWork, Upwork, Zipcar, and Lending Club among others.
Some people think the sharing economy will never be able to have the same kind of growth and impact in Asia as it has in the US due to cultural differences and government regulations (China and Uber for example).
What is your guys’ viewpoint on this?
While the term “sharing economy” was coined only in recent years, the model has been deployed in HK for over 20 years. Traditionally, van and truck driver operators will sign up to “call centers”, who will perform marketing and dispatch orders to drivers freelancing on their platform. When we started, we were essentially building on top of this model, but greatly improving the quality, efficiency, and accuracy using mobile internet and applications.
Regulations by definition are created to regulate what people know would happen, thus it is backward looking and always in need to catch up to what’s happening today and what’s going to happen. If our model can create value, it’ll be here to stay. I’m sure governments will eventually make regulation changes to create the necessary environment.