In a couple of years, or hopefully months, EasyVan wants to be the brand everyone associate with when they think about getting movers for their moving around needs.
And its an ambition that EasyVan founder and CEO Shingyuk Chow is working everyday to realizing.
Originally based in Hong Kong, EasyVan launched its peer to peer app in Singapore, that connects van drivers with individuals or businesses who need their stuff moved around from one place to another.
How does it work? Once you download the app from the app store, you can place an order for a van driver. Simply enter a pick up location and destination, input any special needs, and the app would match you with the best-rated driver closest to you. The driver will then call you to confirm the order, and if it is an immediate order, the van or lorry will arrive at your doorsteps within minutes.
The model has seen much success in Hong Kong: it has over 8,000 vans in its network and it is helping hundreds of businesses and individuals everyday. It is now replicating its model in Singapore and the rest of the Southeast Asia market.
Leaving Professional Poker To Transform The Logistics Industry
On a typical day now, Shing takes care of the strategic and operational aspects of EasyVan. The Stanford graduate used to work at Global management consulting firm Bain but decided quit one fine day to become a professional poker player. During his poker career, he managed to win over HK$ 30 Million over a span of 8 years, an impressive feat for Shing who was raised in a poor family living in squatters.
That didn’t give much satisfaction to Shing as well.
“Poker is at the end of the day about redistribution of wealth. You win, then someone loses. You lose, then someone else wins. It is a zero sum game. I wanted to do something that not only add zeroes to my bank account, but adding value to the society we live in. I also wanted to do something exciting. I wanted a venture that i could dedicate my life to. I spent a few years searching. I could not find any until we founded EasyVan,” Shing told Vulcan Post.
EasyVan is on a mission to transform the logistics sector, making it easy for goods to find a driver, and for drivers to find goods to deliver through the rise of the mobile internet world.
“We make users happier because we make the process more convenient. We make the drivers more income, and we make the society greener because there is a better matching between users and drivers. What could be more exciting than this?” said Shing.
Former Managing Director of Easy Taxi Hong Kong Shared The Same Vision
While Shing was focusing on growing EasyVan, it caught the eye of Blake Larson, then managing director of Easy Taxi Hong Kong, who would later join EasyVan as a board advisor. Easy Taxi is one of the fastest growing taxi booking app around the world now and while Blake was running its Hong Kong chapter, he reached out to Shing to exchange learning experiences.
“As Hong Kong is hyper efficient market for all things transportation, I wanted to know how EasyVan was able to “crack the code” and still add value to the ecosystem. After hearing more in detail about his philosophy on everything from product to team building, I was confident that he was building a company that had a great chance to succeed not only in Hong Kong, but also throughout the rest of the world,” Blake told Vulcan Post.
Blake, who is also a MBA graduate from the National University of Singapore, continued to stay in touch with Shing and they met several times to discuss the opportunities and challenges of running a marketplace for transportation services.
“It became clear to me through our conversations that while the passenger transportation segment is much more visible, the logistics segment has much more potential to be disrupted and EasyVan was the right company to help lead this transformation. And as they say ‘the rest is history’,” added Blake.
Similarities and differences between Easy Taxi and EasyVan
It wouldn’t be surprising if one draws a similarity between Easy Taxi and EasyVan, even the name bears much association. Blake agreed as well, and that the marketplace model for both passenger and logistic services do share many similarities.
“I think the most obvious similarity is the challenge of always making sure demand and supply are balanced. I think all marketplaces face the “chicken or the egg” problem. Easy Taxi and EasyVan are always confronted with making sure there are enough vehicles given the relative level of customer orders, but also making sure there are enough orders for the relative level of drivers otherwise they do not see the benefit of your platform. This is an issue that only sorts itself out once your platform is quite mature.”
Both companies (Easy Taxi and EasyVan) also face the challenge of the service levels of the drivers as they are not employees of the company. Customers demand high levels of service from them because they need to help customers get a driver, but in the end, the drivers work either for themselves or another company, not Easy Taxi or EasyVan. To overcome this, EasyVan rewards highly rated drivers with special privileges.
What about the difference between Easy Taxi and EasyVan?
The largest difference is how supply and demand interact with each other in the respective passenger and logistic segments. For passenger vehicles, taxi drivers always have the ability to drive around without using any type of platform to find orders; however efficient or inefficient this strategy may be. The truth is that drivers, and customers for that matter, have a direct substitute for an app to find a taxi which is to hail one on the street.
For EasyVan, delivery drivers do not have the ability to drive up and down the streets to find orders. It would be incredibly inefficient for them to go into each SME and hope the business had an order for them at that particular moment. In this way, the delivery drivers are much more dependent on an outside channel for their business.
“We have found that drivers love EasyVan because it’s the most efficient channel for them to get the maximum number of orders in one day,” Blake told Vulcan Post.
“I will probably fire myself as CEO if we can’t make it work” – CEO of EasyVan
With a proven record in its home base Hong Kong, team is now expanding to Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. As its first overseas market, Singapore plays a very strategic role in the company’s expansion roadmap, and has assigned Gary Hui as the Singapore lead. Customers mostly rely on word of mouth to find out about EasyVan now and the team is currently focusing on getting more businesses onboard.
Of course, it is not without its challenge. Competitor GogoVan which offers the same service to customers has recently been aggressively expanding around the region as well. GoGoVan also raised a total of US$6.5 Million in investment to help in its ambitious expansion plan.
However, that didn’t give Shing and his team a flinch.
“We like competition. How else can we win someone? It is no fun playing tennis when the other side has no one. We fight better when we face a good competitor. Let’s pray Gogovan can execute otherwise it would be boring for us,” Shing told Vulcan Post.
Although Hong Kong and the rest of the region are different in many social economical aspects, CEO Shing is 100% confident that EasyVan will work.
“If it does not work, it is our fault for not executing well. I will probably fire myself as CEO if we can’t make it work.”