This follows the US$10 million the on-delivery service raised in January during its Series A funding.
Lalamove offers on-demand delivery service similar to Uber’s Rush model, except it specialises in connecting drivers of vans, motorcycles and trucks with customers in need of transporting goods. (Uber also offers vans and a separate service rushing parcels, but this is region-specific and inconsistent).
Lalamove, which offers consistency in its regions, does have one main rival in Hong Kong — GogoVan — which offers similar services in Southeast Asia and mainland China. GogoVan also raised US$10 million in June 2015.
Lalamove plans to expand into 12 additional cities in mainland China, starting with Shanghai and Chongqing this week. The company is aiming to add 50 cities throughout Asia by 2016. Recently, it celebrated sending out its one millionth delivery in the region.
In Hong Kong, the standard rate of van rental begins at US$5.8 (HK$45) with surcharges and other add-ons based on time.
Known as EasyVan in Hong Kong, Huolala in mainland China and Lalamove in all other regions, Lalamove is available on iOS and Android platforms. The service was launched by Chow ‘Shing’ Yuk, in October 2013, and according to an official statement, there are 30,000 drivers in its base.
Following the funding news, e27 caught up with Blake Larson, Head of Lalamove International (excluding China) along with Julien Rio, Marketing Director to chat about the company’s plans post funding.
Here are the edited excerpts:
First, let’s clear up possible confusion: Why all the names? Why shift from EasyVan to Lalamove, but keep the former in Hong Kong?
Larson: The name ‘EasyVan’ might suggest just one type of vehicle, and we didn’t want to be restricted just to vans; we also have trucks, motorcycles, etc. We’re trying to provide our customers with ease in transport, whether it’s food delivery done by motorbike or furniture delivered by a truck.
As for EasyVan, well we invested so much in marketing — a year and a half — in Hong Kong, so we just kept it! [laughs]
Do you see Lalamove encountering the same regulatory issues that Uber is facing?
Larson: We are delivering parcels not passengers, so that’s a big difference in liability. Our drivers need to have a license and we also have training for basic information. Each market has particular regulations around the type of license.
What’s different about the mainland market versus Hong Kong or Southeast Asia?
Larson: In the mainland, we do a lot of direct sales. We go talk to small businesses and figure out each individual user’s needs. China is relationship-based; you need to have a face-to-face relationship. Basically our teams are divided into two, the mainland China side and Southeast Asia team.
Rio: One of the most interesting markets is Taipei. A lot of the food stalls there could not work with foodpanda because there’s a minimal charge. But we help by bringing meals from small stalls to customers. In Bangkok, we are also doing a lot of food deliveries. Hong Kong’s delivery ecosystem itself is unique to anywhere we’ve seen in Asia.
You’re scaling both in Southeast Asia and mainland China. How does the team adapt?
Larson: It’s a balance between scaling aggressively enough — sometimes the first-mover advantage really applies — and also having everything you bring to the market be of value. We didn’t want to scale too early.
Expansion will come when it’s ready. It’s a natural tendency for startups to try to raise too much money too early. People need time to be comfortable in shifting their mindset about technology, that it can customise what they need and when they need it.
We made an effort to first fine tune our model and figure out how to be different. It’s about delivering a focussed and quality product.
What’s your advice for attracting talent?
Larson: For talent, referrals are still the best! I actually met Julien (Rio) at a TedX event and we were chatting about the potential of partnering up. Later, I was going through applications and I saw that he applied for Marketing Director! [laughs]
Rio: It’s true! I had broken my leg and was using Lalamove to move around my wheelchair. Do you know how hard it is to get a taxi when you have a wheelchair? Taxis simply will not stop. There is the Diamond Cab service that provides transportation for wheelchairs, but there are only eight such cabs in the entire city of Hong Kong. So I started using Lalamove. I liked the service so much, I applied [for a job] to the company.
How is Lalamove making money?
Larson: At the moment, we are investing in growth and technology. But there are several different models we can follow in the future. First would be commission-based, second would be a subscription fee, say call centres charging vans.
As a startup, Lalamove has made impressive strides in securing funds. What are some tips you have in developing investor relations?
Larson: E-commerce is growing quite a bit and it’s important to find investors that understand our online and offline model. We look at our investors the way we look at employers. Both sides have obligations that must be met. It’s essentially a marriage!