Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu

#24: Blake Larson MD International Lalamove

August 31, 2018 Season 1 Episode 24
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#24: Blake Larson MD International Lalamove
Chapters
00:01:44
How did you spend your first eight weeks for Rocket Internet
00:03:46
Tell us more about Lalamove, what it is and how exactly it works and adds value to people?
00:05:05
And what is your role as MD International?
00:05:35
How different is it operating across different cities and countries?
00:07:43
How do last-mile logistics centers differ across the countries/regions in which Lalamove operates? I know Hong  Kong has a 55 minutes delivery guarantee.
00:10:14
How do you pay the drivers? Is there a revenue sharing model?
00:10:43
Which was the fastest growing country in SE Asia for you and maybe share some of the key lessons in expanding there?
00:13:30
Do you have strong competition in the region? 
00:14:16
With the latest round of funding, what are your plans for expansion and where? Do you plan to target more corporate or SME clients?
00:15:20
Has Lalamove failed in any city?
00:17:05
What do Singaporeans care about when talking about your service?  
00:17:50
Does the same-day delivery have the potential to become a standard delivery option for the masses, or will it remain an option just for the limited number of impatient consumers with deep pockets?
00:21:25
Thoughts on last mile logistics problems? Will it be the biggest challenge for e-commerce growth?
00:24:54
Do you plan to attract more corporate clients? The likes of IKEA, Line. 
00:26:13
How do you hire your city directors? And maybe tell us about the process of doing the launch of a new city.
00:29:00
What are your main challenges when it comes to finding the right talent? How do you keep up with hiring matters as you grow?
00:30:02
The four values of the company - passion, grit, humility and execution - How do you tell the story of the company culture and build an interesting brand as employer?
00:32:12
It is interesting to see HUMILITY as one of your values.  How did you decide to focus on this?
00:33:56
I understand that you make your new employees build their chairs. What is the story behind that?
00:37:26
What would be some advice to share to somebody graduating?
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#24: Blake Larson MD International Lalamove
Aug 31, 2018 Season 1 Episode 24
Radu Palamariu
Blake Larson Head and MD International for LALAMOVE. Founded in 2013 as EasyVan in Hong Kong, Lalamove is the leading same day delivery platform present in 129 cities in 9 countries across Asia.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Blake Larson Head and MD International for LALAMOVE. Founded in 2013 as EasyVan in Hong Kong, Lalamove is the leading same day delivery platform present in 129 cities in 9 countries across Asia. Through its mobile & desktop platform, Lalamove connects customers with professional van, motorcycle, lorry and truck drivers. Some of their corporate clients include IKEA, Line or Google. Lalamove raised a total of $161 mil in funding over 6 rounds.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights of the episode:

  • How does Lalamove work and bring value to the customers
  • Last-mile logistics centers differ across the region
  • The fastest growing country in SE Asia for Lalamove
  • Did Lalamove fail in any city?
  • Innovation and greener environment by using fewer vehicles
  • Hiring city directors four launching new markets
  • The four values of the company – passion, grit, humility, and execution
  • New employees need to build their chairs – the story behind

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Speaker 1:
0:00
Hello everybody and welcome to the leaders in supply chain podcast. I am your host rather Paula Mario global supply chain cracked his head for Morgan Phillips executive search. Today I'm happy to have Blake Larsen head, head and MD international FOLA move founded in 2013 and is easy event in Hong Kong Lala movies, the leading same day delivery platform present in 129 cities in nine countries across Asia through its mobile and desktop platform. [inaudible] connects customers with professional event, motorcycle Lorian and truck drivers. Some of their corporate clients include the Kia line and Google. They raised so far a total of $161 million in funding over six rounds and the latest funding came from a, from a series C of 100 million on October 11th, 2017 which means the company is now valued at more than $1 billion. Short intro about Blake. He has worked across four continents, mostly in the retail and technology sector. He has helped lead the growth of LA LA Mo from one city in Southeast Asia to eight has also been involved in the series a funding of $10 million.
Speaker 1:
1:05
Has launched easy taxi app funded by rocket internet in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai and Jakarta in the previous role. And also before that he has co-funded and managed aircrew club, which was like group for airline employees and expanded it across six continents and 13 cities. Also. He has some very interesting stories to share, including how after his MBA he spent his first eight weeks for rocket internet in, in Hong Kong, standing outside Petro stations handing out flyers to taxi drivers. So we'll, we'll find out more about that. But before Blake a warm welcome and thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me. So let's start maybe with the, with the, with the story about the, about you in Hong Kong, standing outside Petro stations. How did that kind of work?
Speaker 2:
1:48
Ah, yeah. So it was, um, literally the day I arrived to Hong Kong and my first day on the job for a rocket Internet's easy taxi. So we are launching an Uber style or a grab style, um, taxi application in Hong Kong. The global CEO from, um, Brazil was in town for my first four hours of my job. He handed me a piece of paper with 10 questions and he goes, go, go solve the business, you know, go start it. And I was like, well, what do you mean? He's like, well, the questions are there, just go out there and do it. And so, um, I didn't know what else to do except to go get close to our customers. And to do that we first had to have, uh, our taxi drivers on the platform. So literally, I don't speak any Cantonese. It's the first time I lived in Hong Kong.
Speaker 2:
2:30
The first day I was in Hong Kong and here I am printing flyers and going out in the a 35 degree heat handing out flyer after flyer to thousands and thousands of taxi drivers over the next eight weeks. Oh wow. It's, it's quite the, it's quite the interesting start to your, to your Asian journey yet. Yeah, it was quite, quite crazy. And I think it, but you know, what it showed me is that there's a, there's a lot of glamour on startups and what they are and what they're not. But actually you don't know until you try and you don't know until you go face your customer. And so to see the faces of the local Cantonese taxi drivers, when you know this, uh, white guy who doesn't speak Cantonese is standing outside knocking on their windows and I'm filling up with, you know, they're filling up with petrol. Um, they obviously rolled down their window because of the novelty of it. But it was the best way to kind of get my fingers into the business right away.
Speaker 1:
3:19
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And it's, it's a very interesting story also cause, uh, cause um, if we think about the story of, uh, grab is another, a a taxi app, right? That started and so decision and the founder of of grab, which is a Anthony tan, he did the same input in Malaysia. Okay. In a different geography, but exactly the same cause the principal then says you write for the cities and you need to be close to your customers. Right. Or to users. Yes. Um, so interesting. Interesting story. Um, and so tell us a little bit about about LA LA move. Right. What it is for the listeners that they don't know how exactly it works and how does it add value to people?
Speaker 2:
3:54
Sure. So a lot of the movies is a crowd source model as well. Kind of like the taxi apps, but instead of moving people were moving things. So our focus is really an exclusively on local, hyper local deliveries. So we're not doing between cities, we're not doing international, we're really focusing on first and last mile deliveries, um, and the largest cities across Asia. And we use that crowdsource model to do this.
Speaker 1:
4:18
Yes. Okay. So he's basically is specifically only in, in process interested in, right. So intracity last mile delivery, exact matching available space in a, in Lori's invents.
Speaker 2:
4:31
Exactly. So like, um, I mean they, the local delivery space is very, very fragmented. Um, and, and actually a lot of the local logistic companies don't even own their own assets and they're working with independent contractors anyway, right? So basically we're taking all of this, um, fragmented supply pool. I'm putting it on a mobile platform to, you know, drive the efficiency of our drivers, but because of the model and the density of these drivers, um, you know, our core competitive advantage really is how fast we're able to do delivery relative to fish. Traditional means of, um, you know, delivery.
Speaker 1:
5:03
Hmm. And as, as, so you're, you're the MD and head of international rights. So what's, what's your role as in that capacity at LA?
Speaker 2:
5:11
Right. So we're, we're across 129 cities right now across Asia and that split between mainland China and outside of mainland China. So my role is actually at the, uh, business outside of mainland China. Um, that includes all of our city operations, our product team, our tech team, our finance, all the shared services, et cetera. So, um, I'm, I'm running our business, uh, across the sea region.
Speaker 1:
5:32
Hm. And, and how different is it to operate across different cities, across different countries? Because I imagine also from last Milo's just a center that would differ from the current consumer's behavior that would differ. Tell us a little,
Speaker 2:
5:44
well, yeah, so I think this is, uh, it, depending on who you're talking to about this question, right? So people talk about the opportunity in Southeast Asia, 620 million, 650 million people. And if you're not really familiar it, you just look at that number and you look at growth rates of anywhere from five to 10% in all of these countries and for the GDP. And you say, wow, that's a really, really big opportunity. But when you actually start digging into the details, the nuances across the countries, across the cultures and everything, really, really make the region a, an opportunity, but a huge, huge challenge to operate effectively. And I think, um, for us, uh, specifically, uh, I like to, you know, simplify it into like the customer's expectations in Singapore versus like Manila, cause we're in both markets. Right. And for example, um, in Singapore, if you told the, um, the customer, Hey, I will, uh, deliver your goods, you know, today and I promise I won't steal them.
Speaker 2:
6:42
They would laugh at you. Singapore is one of the most secure, safest cities. Traffic is generally pretty good compared to the mega cities across Southeast Asia because it's not that big. The infrastructure is very strong. Um, so, but yet that value proposition of Hey, I'll deliver it to you in the next couple of hours and I promise your goods will actually show up in Manila is very, very strong because the, um, the local offering in that market is proven to be quite unreliable, um, of the goods even showing up. So we've really had to adapt, um, to the local cultures and also like the, the infrastructure challenges or lack thereof and competing markets. And so Singapore and Manila, again, I think these are really two extreme examples of where the customer's expectations on what fast means, what reliable means, what secure means, um, are really, really different.
Speaker 1:
7:33
Hmm. And I wanted to ask you actually, because I know that in in the, I think incident markets and specifically in Hong Kong where also your density is larger, you have the promise of 55. Is it 55 minutes? Yeah,
Speaker 2:
7:43
it's so, so actually if you look at our average delivery time across the region, and this is actually, I'll, I, I'll put China into this. Our average delivery time that from order to drop off is 55 minutes. So, um, it's impressive. It's really, really quick. And, and the reason we can do this is because, uh, the level of driver density we have. So, um, across the region we have over 2 million registered drivers on our platform, right? So I believe the statistic was the largest logistics fleet in the world. And this is a few, few years ago, which the United States postal service and they had something like a quarter million vehicles. Um, so after four and a half years, we have over 2 million registered drivers on our platform. So this allows us to have a very, very high driver density, um, which shortens the distance to the pickup location. So that's where most of the savings are. And a lot of this is idle capacity anyway. So you're actually bringing more business to these independent contractors that otherwise maybe we're doing one, two orders a day, but because of the density of our orders and the density of the drivers and the quicker turn around, um, we're actually helping the drivers be a lot more efficient as well.
Speaker 1:
8:44
Yes. No, but that's, that's fantastic. I didn't, I didn't know. Just just see, because also I'm thinking from a, coming back to the problem with the, the traffic, right? Um, cause let's, let's take a in Southeast Asia and I think Monday land, Jakarta probably the most, uh, yeah, the craziest in terms of traffic. Yes. On the right. So if you indeed have the driver, I'm just thinking out loud. Right. But if you have the driver in the same neighborhood and they can pick it up, right. And then, uh, I mean just do two 55 minutes. I would doubt that they would do that in 55 minutes in money land in Jakarta. But still it's a bit longer. But actually I was looking at the, uh, the number of this morning and our average arrival time right from the time that driver exception order to the time he arrived in Manila is nine minutes.
Speaker 2:
9:26
And you, and if anybody even knows Manila, the expansiveness of this city is quite positive. It's huge. So it really speaks volumes on like the level of density of the drivers that we have in the market. And also, I guess the caveat on this too, um, from people that like don't know Southeast Asia is that the types of vehicles that you do delivery with is quite vast here, right? So everything from motorcycles to cars to vans to a 10 foot lorry, 14 foot lower, et cetera. All different local deliveries done by so many different means and different types of vehicles that um, obviously the arrival time and delivery time is impacted in the cities that have the worst traffic based on the type of vehicle that they need to do the delivery. Yeah. Yes.
Speaker 1:
10:08
And how do you, how do you pay the, um, technical questions, but how do you pay the drivers? I'm a how, how did the drivers get paid in a sense of, you know, while a, is there a flat fee? Is there,
Speaker 2:
10:18
right, no, no. So actually our, our pricing model is a base price plus a per kilometer price based on the vehicle type. Right? So all we do is a revenue share model with them. Um, you know, we, uh, the driver keeps 80 to 85% of every order and we take 15 to 20% of that.
Speaker 1:
10:34
Okay. So he's very similar to [inaudible]. It's quite similar there. Okay. Hm. Um, which was some of the, which was the fastest growing country for you in Southeast Asia and you know, maybe some of the key lessons for you in, in, in growing the business there.
Speaker 2:
10:48
Yeah, sure. So, um, I mean, each city, one thing I've learned through launching many cities is that the growth trajectory is not predicated at all on your past performance in other cities. And a lot of it is because of the localization, um, or the local dynamic of what's happening from a competitive standpoint. But, uh, recently we've launched, um, uh, Vietnam and Philippines. So we've launched coaching men and Manila. And so right now, after about 15 months, Manila is growing unbelievably, but maybe the first four or five months it was a little bit slower, whereas Hoshi men from the very first Bay and grew very, very, very quickly. And a lot of it has to do with the um, both the, uh, experience that customers are used to in that market. So it's the service basic surface level, good, high or not. And then also the abundance of supply. So these are two markets where, uh, the supply is very, very abundant. And actually the general level of service that people are used to getting from a delivery providers is not that high. So we've seen tremendous success in these two markets
Speaker 1:
11:50
because basically, so if I am to summarize the pain points, is that okay, they have pretty bad delivery, service or existing and then you come in and fill up that gap. And when you say that you are growing, it's a good growth. I mean, can you give us some, some, um, some specifics? Like how, how big is your brother?
Speaker 2:
12:06
I mean, we can easily range anywhere from like a 20 to 50% month on month growth for the [inaudible] to use for the first two years. Wow. Right. Yeah, it's so, um, and I think, uh, something that's important and it's quite close to our ethos as a company is we actually very much believe in sustainable growth too. Um, so I think we have a very different model than a lot of startups that raised a lot of capital. Um, primarily because of the types of customers that we serve. And most of them are SMEs actually. I mean, we do work at the enterprise, we do some consumer delivery, um, like C to C delivery, but we primarily as SMEs. And what we found really early on is that, uh, these clients really, uh, value, trust, reliability, um, and consistency, even over like free. I mean they'll try you for free for sure. But we found that actually, uh, subsidizing heavily, and this market is not an effective way to retain customers, maybe to get them initially, but uh, you know, they really value your dependability much more so than just the monetary part, which isn't necessarily true in some of the, um, consumer driven, you know, internet, internet companies I would say.
Speaker 1:
13:22
And do you find yourself, because I know that for example, for China and that we will not name it, but there is a pretty strong competitor to have, but do you find that you have a strong competition in Southeast Asia? Is there one player that,
Speaker 2:
13:33
cause I also don't really it, yeah, I would say that there's very few, if none regional companies doing what we're doing in Southeast Asia, I would say we have a lot of like 10 gentle competitors, right? So, uh, like grab and go. Jack are doing a little bit more on the C to C delivery. Um, but most of their customer assistant is consumers. Um, and so they're just moving it over. Um, there's local competitors that have tried to and all the different markets in Southeast Asia, but none of them have been able to scale, uh, across the region. And I think a lot of that is actually the challenges of, um, managing, um, a product and operational process in a, in a way that is both scalable but also local enough to add value.
Speaker 1:
14:16
And, and with your latest round of funding, do you have a, I mean, obviously you have plans of expansion, but we are, where do you see that happening and do you plan to target more corporate clients or SME clients or,
Speaker 2:
14:28
yeah, I think there's a couple areas that we're really, investing in. One is definitely more talent and a lot of that is going on in the product and tech side because product and tech allows you to scale much, much faster. So your, uh, ability to develop things and solutions quickly is, uh, paramount to, to future growth. Uh, so the second part we're going to be investing in is a lot of new services. So a lot of our clients are still doing a on demand or same hour delivery. We'll look to layer on a lot of other interesting same day delivery options at a lower price. Uh, and then the third area we'll look as to continue to further, uh, open new cities in Southeast Asia. So we're across all the major cities at this point in Southeast Asia. But we'll look to do, I guess if a decision has second and third tier cities, um, we're still seeing opportunities in there, so we'll, we'll look to do that in the coming several months.
Speaker 1:
15:19
Got it. Have you, uh, so, so called failed in any city? I mean, had it, has it, has it not quite picked up the way?
Speaker 2:
15:27
Yeah, so again, I think failure is somewhat relative, but we haven't closed a city yet. Um, yeah, and I would say that, you know, most of the time we, we believe there's an opportunity for delivery everywhere in Southeast Asia and China. Uh, it's just whether you can adapt quick enough to be a relevant in that market. So one of the examples though that where we really had a challenge is our first city was Hong Kong. And then what we did is about five months after we launched Hong Kong, we came to Singapore. And so we used the same product, um, which used the same type of marketing, the same type of branding. And we said, Hey, you know, copy, paste, copy, paste. And then we got on the ground and it just, it didn't take off. Um, because actually how people interact with delivery in Hong Kong is actually unique to anywhere in the world.
Speaker 2:
16:14
Uh, from what I've found so far in a sense that, um, there was already a dispatch system for delivery in Hong Kong that works like traditional taxi operators where you would call a call center and a delivery guy would come up. So for us, all we did was digitize this and make it more effective. But actually in, in Singapore a lot, there's a lot more self ownership of the SMEs of their vehicles, um, because they like to have the control of the quality. But actually this doesn't scale very well as their business grows. Right. So, um, actually we had to really come in and after a few months or growth was, it was there but not it all up to our expectations. We had to really spend a lot of time with our customers and understand that the pain points in Singapore to doing delivery were quite different than Hong Kong. Um, and, and so I think we've adapted fairly well, but I mean I'm, I'm sure there's still work left to do.
Speaker 1:
17:03
Hm. And what, what, what would you say to, to be a bit more specific, what would you say that they would, uh, for Singapore, let's take this example. They'd always, some of the, cause I hear the, the, it's, it's a recurring theme, right? A local localize the business model. Be close to your, to your consumers and then see what's the veterans and what do they appreciate. So for example, in Singapore, do they, what are the people in Singapore care about it?
Speaker 2:
17:24
They care a lot more about service quality than in Hong Kong or in Hong Kong. It was like, get it to me now, just like the city, get it to me now. Give it, to me, service is like a secondary thought at to speed and efficiency in Singapore is definitely much like from a customer standpoint where it's the SME or the final customer receiving it as service level, the expectation is much, much higher.
Speaker 1:
17:45
Hmm. Yeah. Very interesting. Um,
Speaker 2:
17:49
and do you think
Speaker 1:
17:50
that in terms of same day delivery, do you think that it has the potential to become a standard delivery option for, you know, for the masses or do you think it will remain an option just for the limited number of inpatient consumers with deep pockets specifically in Southeast Asia? Yeah.
Speaker 2:
18:03
It will become a standard offering for logistic companies to compete effectively in the mid to long term. They will have to offer it whether it's right for every customer that's actually not for, I believe the company has to decide your, your job. It was actually to give the customer choice and provided at a price that is valuable to them. So I mean certain goods, um, yeah, you definitely want them same day. Like there's a sense of urgency, but if you can deliver it next day or two days or three days at, you know, a fraction of the cost, like I think that will still be prevalent for the foreseeable future in Southeast Asia because there is still a price sensitivity. Um, and this will be particularly true for that e-commerce segment. So, um, if you talk to any of the, the guys doing a local delivery, you know, whether it's the, uh, the local largest accompanies or the international or even us like delivery windows and times are getting shorter and shorter and shorter. This, there's no disputing this fact at all. So you're seeing the compression of delivery time cycles. Um, and we believe that's like where the opportunity is because with our model, the density that you can do to drive the efficiency is very, very hard for a lot of companies to replicate. But for sure the customer is going to be a more demanding of all of us, um, in the coming year.
Speaker 1:
19:21
Hmm. Yes. And I think that, I mean this, this model with, with the Amazon and Alibaba really driving the, to our, the, you name it, right. I mean they are getting more and more, uh, people used to, the idea of you look, it happens really fast and we are just going to be expecting it to happen regardless. And if you're not doing it in the, what's wrong with you? Um, and I'll give you a, maybe there's a question in there, right? Because I ha as, as a consumer, I remember I had this situation, I had some problems with mosquitoes in my house. I wanted to buy a mosquito land, right. Because you know, mosquitoes were biting me and my family and then I had to wait, which was incredible at that point. I mean, it still is the same problem actually in Singapore, which is not such a big place. Right. I had to wait three days for the delivery, right. From the animal name or any eCommerce platform. I'm like, how is it possible? Right. It's just one CT. It's fairly, I mean, it's not, it's not a huge place if somebody needs, and I had to wait for three days. So basically I just went physically to the shop and both of them, they brought it back home. Right. So there's gotta be a better way, right? I mean,
Speaker 2:
20:14
yeah, I mean I think there definitely is. I mean, the traditional way is really to drive it based on what's best for the co, uh, the company, right. From a unit economic standpoint. But more and more customers and consumers like yourself want a personalized experience, right? And they want to be able to get the goods in the time they choose. Like I said, it's not always now, but when it's now they want that choice. Uh, and so I believe that there's huge, huge opportunity, not just for ourselves, but just the general, um, delivery market to adapt more from a customer perspective. Um, the, the logging, the literal logistics of figuring out how to do it in an economically feasible way, um, is a challenge. But actually you can no longer hold on to traditional process for process sake because that's how it always was done and that's how you traditionally made profit. Um, and so you're going to see companies that don't evolve their mindset but also like their, their process that when it comes to efficiency, really, really take a back seat to companies that are really willing to start with the customer and then work backwards into how the, the process fits the need of the customer.
Speaker 1:
21:24
Cause these, this brings me to the question is like, you know, there's a lot of actually problems in the last mile, right? The sector and this is a huge challenge for the, for the eCommerce growth. I mean, how do you see the, the development currently and maybe in [inaudible]
Speaker 2:
21:35
future? I mean, e-commerce is a tricky one. I would say for, um, all of the, the last mile delivery guys, whether people are doing it in house or using a company like us or, um, you know, any of the postal operators, whatever because uh, the likes of Alibaba and Amazon has spoiled everybody where they don't want to pay. Right? They really don't want to pay. And because these are market places, there are several other, um, competitors on the marketplace selling a similar product at a similar price. And so those margins of the products are already very, very thin because it's competitive, right? So where are you going to find the margin to pay for the delivery if you're not charging the customer? Um, but I guess this is where a lot of venture capital is actually stepped in and private equity and, uh, kind of driven the growth at the expense of profit.
Speaker 2:
22:25
Um, and that's why these large eCommerce companies are able to grow. But from a delivery standpoint, um, you still have to find a way to make it economically feasible. Someone has to be paying for it. So it's either the customer, uh, the person selling the product or the, the financial investors. And right now a lot of it's the financial investors, I would say, um, at the, uh, in, in the aim of driving more, you know, market share. But yeah, for us, but for us delivery guys, it's to find out how to do this e-commerce at a reasonable price that the customers are willing to pay is, is definitely not an easy thing.
Speaker 1:
22:59
Hmm. Yeah. And I mean, that's also not sustainable is it? Right. Because at some point somebody will have, I'm going to have to stop funding it. Right?
Speaker 2:
23:05
Yeah. I mean, you, you have to find ways to make money. Right. So again, I guess our take on this is, it's important to get to a price point where people believe it's fair. It's, you know, and, um, and if we can't deliver that, we don't play in that space to be honest. Because, um, we, we do believe that the unit economics have to work out. You need to create systems that create the right types of behaviors where it benefits everybody. And so, um, yeah, e-commerce though for whether it's the internet driven companies or even the traditional logistic companies, there's this huge growth, but huge, huge challenge to do it at, uh, in a financially efficient way. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
23:43
And I look, I mean, in terms of what we're and what's happening truthfully on the market, uh, actually some of these guys have had to create their own logistics. Sam's because nobody's willing to do it for them. Right? So if you look in Saudi state [inaudible] I mean they kind of creating their own logistics, the three pills, I'm not doing it for that. Right. Because there's no money in it. Um, so it's, it's big, big problems. And then you look at the postal operators, they're not quite geared up for e-commerce as well. Right. So, um, yeah, it's anybody's guess how he's going to work off at the end. Yeah.
Speaker 2:
24:10
I mean, I, I, we have a client that's also using somebody else the other day and they were shipping something from the UK to Singapore and they were able to get it door to door for less than five us dollars. Right. Well, and so when I was talking to them, I was just like, you know, and I won't say who, which company it was, but basically, I mean there's a market shared grab for a lot of the largest guys out there rather cause no one's making their, losing lots of money on that, um, to serve just so they can service that particular clients. So yeah, it's really, really interesting the different approaches people are taking to really chase the e-commerce growth right now because it's there. But to do it profitably is a, you know, a whole nother story. Yes. Yes.
Speaker 1:
24:53
And, and, um, uh, one other question that I wanted to ask you is in terms of the corporate clients that ya, right, so we talked a little bit about it. Yeah. We talk about line, I think, you know, partnership in Thailand or do you, do you plan to attract more of these guys? Uh, what's your, what's your thoughts
Speaker 2:
25:08
building out to a lot of our enterprise solutions right now, which a lot of a lot of that is both the delivery piece of it. Um, but it's also helping them to manage their internal operations better and more efficiently. So giving them a lot of visibility into this data. Historically, we've actually purposely avoided the enterprise clients, uh, when we were much smaller because, um, there were the guys with all the capital, um, yet they want really long credit terms, which is like a death sentence for cashflow for startups. The sales cycle is long. Um, their, their strategies typically are to use multiple providers. So it's not like they're aligning their interests in your interest wholly. So we F early in, you know, uh, when we were smaller, we found it to be a very high risk strategy. When you nail it, the big clients, it's very rewarding. But, uh, we had a few bad instances, particularly on the collection side, when we couldn't afford, uh, to have all that cash. That was our sitting with somebody else that could actually afford to be paying us on time. And so, um, yeah, we're, we're going through a transitional phase where we're, you know, moving back into this segment though. Yes, yes.
Speaker 1:
26:12
Uh, this, there's more of a little bit in terms of talent, in terms of hiring, in terms of um, getting the right people on board. Right. So how do you typically hire your city directors and, and maybe tell us a little bit about the process of launching a new city.
Speaker 2:
26:24
Yeah, so I, I gleaned a lot of, uh, experience from my day actually handing out flyers to the taxi drivers in Hong Kong on this one was, yeah. Um, and so what we typically do is, I mean, we do have an interview process. Uh, we actually go by, uh, a process, uh, from a book called that a method of hiring. Um, and I think it's important just to have a standard process. It, there's, I don't believe there was a lot of right process. There's probably one that fits you better, but actually doing it consistently is one way to look for our city directors. But going back to the Hong Kong store, we basically tell these guys, we give them an exercise and I say, look, I want you to go talk to five customers, small business owners. Just ask them how they do delivery. And I want you to go talk to five delivery drivers.
Speaker 2:
27:08
Just go find them in the streets and tell me what you find out. You don't have to tell them you're applying for a job. Just just ask them what's going well for them when it comes to delivery and what's not going well. And there's a lot of things you get from that one. You, you get their ability to kind of dissect what problems are, are not important. Um, but also you get a sense of like their character because I actually have inter or gone to interview a lot of people that said, well I'm going to be the city director and that's not my job. And that's the best way to end the interview process with us because it's actually not important. What I think it's what the customer thinks and if you're not willing to go out and speak directly to our customers, our customers are both the business owners but also drivers are definitely our customers as well.
Speaker 2:
27:52
Um, we won't, you know, even entertain a second interview. And then the second part of that is one of the characteristics we definitely look for is a somebody local. I mean there's very, very, we have one exception to this, but uh, people that understand the local dynamic, the local culture in SCA or even China are very, very important. They have to understand like the, the cultural psychology of that city, particularly again with our driver, we're working with thousands of drivers in the city and um, they might not always like, especially if like somebody like me, I'm from the U S I've lived outside a long time, but I will never understand the psychological aspects of what it means to be a driver in a, in a city if you're not from there. All right. So we, we really, really look for a, a core team at the local level that is from there. And oftentimes they've all either come from a similar industry or and, or they've also been educated abroad too because we want people that both can like narrow in on the local thing, but they need to understand like more global regional contexts. And so that, that's really a killer combination for us.
Speaker 1:
28:59
And, and, and what are some of the main challenges that you face when it comes to finding the right talent? Right. Because also, I mean, hiring, growing, it's getting harder and harder, right? We're in an expensive growth space. Yeah.
Speaker 2:
29:13
I would say now for us, um, it's actually distinguishing between people that just want to jump on the ride versus builder. Right? And so, uh, you know, it's, it's very, uh, startups are kind of in, in a lot of ways right now. You know, falling funding news is interesting for people. And so consequently, you do get a lot of inbound interest right now because you're doing a lot of new innovative things, which is a great, great thing to bring in talent. But being able to distinguish between the people that just want to be along for that ride versus the ones that want to build, um, to build and make it happen is, is not always easy during the hiring phase because a lot of it is, um, the validation of their past experience, um, how they, you know, look and solve problems. But, uh, we do a lot of reference checks as well.
Speaker 1:
30:03
And, and, and you, I know that the four pillars of the company are our passion, grit, humility, and, uh, an execution. Right. Um, how do you tell the story of the company culture to the outside world? How do you build an interesting brand as an employer? Yeah, so for me, it really starts
Speaker 2:
30:19
with those four values. And, um, the second piece of that is being authentic about them. And so, um, you know, we, we hire, we reward and, uh, sometimes we fire based on those values. So when we think about employer branding, um, for us it's about being transparent about those because we actually very strongly believed that that's been a big contributor to our success as we've grown. And the reason we believe this is actually because when you operate across so many different countries and so many different cultures, and even in Hong Kong where our headquarters is, I think we have like 15 to 20 different nationalities. It would be very easy to say, Oh, it's different in this country, or somebody else does this, uh, in a different way. In a good way or you wouldn't understand, you're not from here. But actually our value system gives us a common language by which to relate to each other.
Speaker 2:
31:14
That actually transcends kind of the surface level attributes of each one of us. So when we, again, we go back to employer branding, I think it's been authentic that we're proud of these values and you know, sharing the challenges that the job will definitely entail. I mean it's, you know, people think, Oh, you're, you know, really well funded and you know, it's going to be this like Google Facebook experience. You're in tech and all of this. The truth is a lot of it's still very messy and you either love that because it's a challenge and you find in that challenge you find ways to grow personally or you save. This company doesn't have it together. It's the same situation, but it's actually how the person interprets that. And again, by giving them the lens of who the people are they're working with and like how we approach these types of challenges, um, really goes along the way during the interview process to letting people assess whether we are the right fit for them.
Speaker 1:
32:10
Yes, yes. And interesting that you put there also humility. Yeah. That's an interesting one, right? I mean, I understand passion, great execution. I understand, but humility. Where did you put me? Yeah, so there's actually a humility has three, three meanings for us. Um, and it's actually, if we do let people go, it's typically because of this, not the other ones. And so this is why it's maybe the most important for us. So the three, the three things, humility means for us is what you would expect putting the team before yourself. But because we believe to build this
Speaker 2:
32:40
market, we rely on everybody, right? Our drivers, our users and our teammates, right? So you definitely have to have a team first mentality. The second part of humility is, um, having a mindset for continuous learning. You, you never want somebody who thinks that they've already hit their pinnacle because the company going to keep growing. Their job's going to keep changing. So if they already think that their their pinnacle and can't grow anymore, um, their job is going to outgrow them. And then the third one that I found the most interesting early on when we talk about humility, as we say, we don't want people that recreate the wheel. And, and why this is really important is when you're growing and you hire really, really smart people, really smart people think that you hire them to solve problems in an innovative way. But you know what, there's certain problems we've solved.
Speaker 2:
33:25
Are there certain problems other people have already solved? Right? So we use the example of login, Facebook and Google know how to do login on something like we don't need to come up with a new way to do login so that we have to convince these really smart people that they don't need to solve things that have already been solved, but put their energy into the thing, the hard things that haven't been solved. But that's very, very counter intuitive. Sometimes when you hire exceptional people. Yeah. I mean don't walk on your hands if you can walk on your feet. Right, exactly. Yeah, exactly. I'm much more succinct. Um, and I heard that you make your new employees build their chairs. What's the story behind that? Ah, yeah. So, um, it is true that we make our new employees actually build their chairs. And, and, and where this came from was after we launched for about 15 months.
Speaker 2:
34:15
Um, we're in like an old industrial building in Hong Kong. Um, we had just moved into the new office. This was the new office, but it was still not very nice. And we bought chairs and you know, whatever the chairs to sit on. But we have a lot of engineers who sit a long time and, uh, do a lot of coding and a lot of people were complaining that like their chairs for causing problems, but we didn't have any money to go buy new chairs. And also we're in a business, this is about efficiency. So actually like throwing away perfectly good chairs for new chairs, doesn't like really fit with who we are. And so we couldn't afford to buy 50 new chairs at the time. So what we did, um, for the next 12 months is we had a monthly town hall and we would raffle off five new chairs every single month because that's what we could afford.
Speaker 2:
35:03
And so it's through that process, we took something from people complaining about all my chair doesn't work to being something where people were really excited to get their name drawn out of a bag, but there were conditions to it. Is that if you didn't pick up your chair cause they was in a box, I'm sure we all ran from, actually we're ordering the same church still and I think they're still from Taobao. They're better than the old ones, but um, people actually had to put them together with two days or the chair. The name went like back into the bucket and it would get redrawn. So people really obsessive about their chairs. Um, and it, it really, um, is close to our heart. One because we believe in building a sustainable business to we believe in not wasting resources and actually making resources more efficient.
Speaker 2:
35:46
And three is to remind us that like, you know, this is a long journey and you know, you come from very humble beginnings where things aren't perfect, but you can turn these challenges into exciting opportunities if you just let your mind go there. And so, uh, people now that, I mean we across China and Southeast Asia, we have 3,700 employees now. And so it'd be very easy to look at the headlines of the funding, um, to say, Oh, you know, they're across all these cities, they have all this money. Um, but we don't want to lose like the things that made us successful in the early days and a chair, the chair is like a good reminder of like the journey of where we've come, but the journey that we still have to take.
Speaker 1:
36:26
Very interesting. I was, I was just yesterday, I was talking to a very successful entrepreneur from, I'm from Myanmar and he started many years ago in the manufacturing of a manufacturing business, food, food manufacturing. And when at that time when he started it, he basically had to, uh, to take a loan and he basically mortgaged his house and everything. And he still had enough money only for half of the factory. So half of the factory was built in iron. And then all the, the, you know, the, the normal materials and half of it was big bit of wood because, you know, he didn't, he couldn't afford it anymore. And now many years later he turned into a very, very successful businessman. But he keeps that factory as it was because he wants that to be a reminder. I look, we started there, we are now here, but let's not forget where we started. Right. Because it's so many people that can fall into complacency.
Speaker 2:
37:12
Yes. And, and I think goes back to the point I was making. There's like, do you want people that are along for the ride or do you want builders? And we're still building. So I think little things like this, um, are, are symbolic reinforcements of the type of people that we want to join us on this journey.
Speaker 1:
37:26
Finally, the final question. What would be an advice that you would want to share with somebody just graduating and you know, wanting maybe to start a career to start to get into [inaudible] startup or whatever. What would,
Speaker 2:
37:37
sure, so I've got three points on this actually. Um, the first is you don't realize this until you're out of school, but up until you graduate, your entire life is prescribed for you, right? The schools, you know, you go to school and then you go to university and you go through things, but all of that, probably your parents or like other people have kind of put you on this path and then you get out of school and the path is open or at least it should be right at this point. And so you really have to think hard of how that transition to growing up is really about going from other people telling you what you need to be doing to figuring out what you need to be doing on a daily basis. Cause no longer are people gonna Pat you on the back for getting a good grade.
Speaker 2:
38:19
Like they're paying you to do a job. So don't expect a Pat on the back anymore just for doing what you're getting paid to do. And I think that's a really hard realization for people. Um, graduating. Um, the second part that I believe very strong in is the idea of like self self authorship. So really creating your own story, right? Again, I think this goes back to everything being prescribed for you. You don't realize that all of the influences up until this point in your life have really informed your personal perspective on things. But you have to really self reflect and say, is that my perspective? Does that align with my personal value system anymore? Right? Just because you thought you should go into tech or you thought you should be a doctor or um, you know, a lawyer or whatever the job is that you thought you should after you graduate.
Speaker 2:
39:05
Is that really who you are? And so I really encourage people to try to do some self reflection and see if what they're doing really aligns to who they want to be. Um, because it's very easy to go on a path that's more driven by like what you see in society. It's not even your, your family, right? Like should go make money, go do this. And yet pretty soon you start falling a path and you don't even know anymore if that's your path or someone else's path. So self authorship is super important concept for me personally and I think I wished somebody told me that much, much earlier in my life. Um, and then the last one, I have a secret to get a job almost a hundred percent of time for self graduates that I would hire this person every single time if they can't into to an interview.
Speaker 2:
39:48
Um, if they were a fresh grad is if they came in and said, look, I've used your service several times. I went and I talked to your customers and for us I went and talked to five drivers. I went and I talked to five small businesses and this is, here is what they say about your business and this is how I think you can improve. I would give this person a job every single time because normally they're just waiting, you know, for you know that the interview, uh, or to give them a question and then they can answer it. Oh, you know, I did this in school or that in school and blah blah. You don't know. Just tell me about my business and prove that you're proactive about caring what my customers care about and I will hire you. [inaudible]
Speaker 1:
40:25
super. Yeah. So guys, you have that. So if you want to get a job in LA LA Mo, you know what you need to do. Blake, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for being with us today and good luck in the, in the future growth of LA LA and thanks so much for having me. Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you liked what you heard, be sure to follow us on [inaudible] Paula mario.com/podcast for all the show notes, links and extra tips covered in the interview. Make sure also to subscribe to our emailing list to get the news in the Nick of time. If you're listening through a streaming platform like iTunes or Stitcher and you like what we do, please kindly review and give us five stars so we can keep the energy flowing and get more people to find out about our podcast. I'm most active on LinkedIn, so do feel free to follow me to stay tuned for our latest articles as well as future guests for the podcast. And if you have any suggestions or any other idea, please feel free to write to me. I respond to all, and also please make sure not to miss our next episode where we will be having a few other C level and top leaders in supply chain joining us. Stay tuned.
Tell us more about Lalamove, what it is and how exactly it works and adds value to people?
And what is your role as MD International?
How different is it operating across different cities and countries?
How do last-mile logistics centers differ across the countries/regions in which Lalamove operates? I know Hong  Kong has a 55 minutes delivery guarantee.
How do you pay the drivers? Is there a revenue sharing model?
Which was the fastest growing country in SE Asia for you and maybe share some of the key lessons in expanding there?
Do you have strong competition in the region? 
With the latest round of funding, what are your plans for expansion and where? Do you plan to target more corporate or SME clients?
Has Lalamove failed in any city?
What do Singaporeans care about when talking about your service?  
Does the same-day delivery have the potential to become a standard delivery option for the masses, or will it remain an option just for the limited number of impatient consumers with deep pockets?
Thoughts on last mile logistics problems? Will it be the biggest challenge for e-commerce growth?
Do you plan to attract more corporate clients? The likes of IKEA, Line. 
How do you hire your city directors? And maybe tell us about the process of doing the launch of a new city.
What are your main challenges when it comes to finding the right talent? How do you keep up with hiring matters as you grow?
The four values of the company - passion, grit, humility and execution - How do you tell the story of the company culture and build an interesting brand as employer?
It is interesting to see HUMILITY as one of your values.  How did you decide to focus on this?
I understand that you make your new employees build their chairs. What is the story behind that?
What would be some advice to share to somebody graduating?
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