In 2013, Nadhir Ashafiq co-founded TheLorry.com, an online platform that connects people who need to move truckloads of items from A to B with lorry drivers, using algorithms similar to those found under the hood at Uber. Ashafiq broke down TheLorry.com’s success and discussed the state of play for startups in Malaysia
Why do you think you have been successful?
Prior to us coming to the market, price wasn’t transparent. A lot of the time, when customers rented lorries, their driver would give them very low quotes and then, once they’d loaded up the items into the lorry, would give them reasons why they needed to charge them extra. For us, the price is absolutely transparent and fixed. We also vet our drivers to ensure that they have the customer service and technical skills they need to do their job.
Who are your customers?
Roughly 60% of our business comes from corporates and 40% from individuals, who are mostly moving house. The corporates use us for a point-to-point solution, mostly A to B. But sometimes they also use us for distribution needs – what I mean by that is getting us to move items from a warehouse to multiple retail outlets.
What’s your assessment of Malaysia’s startup community?
I think it’s developing really well. Why? Number one, I think it’s to do with the government. They have been really pushing this idea of the digital economy. They want to boost the proportion of the country’s GDP coming from the digital economy from 16% to over 20%. They are creating lots of events, programmes and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs to really go for it.
What challenges do Malaysian startups face?
There is an issue with the level of tech talent in Malaysia. When you talk about fresh graduates, there are quite a few of them. But when you talk about super-talented guys who have worked somewhere like Google, they are a rare breed and they don’t come cheap. They are very expensive and a lot of development headhunters are making a lot of money matching these guys to corporates who need them.
This article was published in the November edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.