Dennis Ng, Founder and CEO of Philippines-based on-demand delivery startup Mober has either gone bonkers from Manila’s smog, or is an eternally cheery glass-half-full kind of guy.
Why? Well, because Metro Manila recently has been crowned the worst city in this glorious green planet to drive in. And the decision was unanimously supported and echoed by the city’s own residents. So why the blazes would anyone dare to stand against the monstrosity that is this city’s traffic?
Ng is clearly unfazed by such challenges. Look at that indomitable look in the picture; is it not one that says “I solemnly believe that Mober will ride through Manila’s roadways like an icebreaker through the arctic ocean.”
e27 speaks to Ng to find out what possessed him to tackle the logistics industry in that market.
Why jump into the fray?
Existing on-demand logistic startups such as Hong Kong-based Gogovan – which also operates in Singapore, and has raised a total of US$26.54 million in funding so far – served as an inspiration and model.
“I travel to HK two times a month and I saw the Gogovan concept, so I thought to myself why not come up with the same system here in the Philippines. It is really very hard to find a delivery van service in the Philippines. SMEs have to buy a minivan just to serve their VERY few trips or deliveries,” says Ng.
Mober’s aim is simply to connect customers with freelance drivers through its web and mobile apps, and not build a fully-loaded logistics system. That means no inventory, warehouse, or central storage system.
Ng claims that bypassing these processes allows him to reduce average delivery time in Metro Manila from days to about two hours. Goods get delivered straight from the retailer to the customer; albeit at a higher cost.
This crowd-sourced system for drivers also means that it does not have to employ its own drivers (they are contractors like Uber drivers) or buy its own trucks (although it does have five trucks to cater to additional demands) – essentially it is a logistics company with no inventory, allowing Mober to drive down operational costs.
Mober partners with van owners and takes a 20 per cent cut from the total fare.
Founded in July 2015 and soft-launched in December, Mober partnered with Noel Bazaar, Philippines biggest Christmas bazaar/flea market organiser.
It runs an eight-man team in the Philippines, while its tech operations is headed by CTO Sergei Iscarov in Belarus with a skeleton crew of four men.
Ng has so far bootstrapped the startup with US$200,000 of his own savings. He says his pitch deck has attracted the attention of several VCs.
The way forward
Currently, Ng is concerned about how best he can market and brand the startup to reach and acquire more users (both drivers and customers).
“The biggest challenge we are facing now is how to serve the demands with our few in-house fleet. Recently, we have launched a series of social media and newspaper ads on our recruitment campaign,” says Ng.
Thankfully, for Ng, he does not have to worry about facing a competitor because there is none to be found…yet.
Ng plans to engage a fleet of around 1000 vans. And if VCs hop on board, Mober plans to expand to Cebu City before the last quarter of 2016.
“I don’t stop believing. I know I have a very good product and I have a team that counting on me to make this endeavour a success,” says Ng. And if this doesn’t pan out, he has the option of returning to his old profession as an accountant.