- Founders’ industry experience aids in market penetration
- Liken their solution to introducing a Tesla to people driving an old Fiat
SINGAPORE-headquartered logistics startup Ezyhaul, founded in April 2016, recently expanded operations to Malaysia. With “Uber” having become a buzzword thrown around by startups, Ezyhaul considers itself an uber-type business not just because of a disruptive business model but also because of the passion and conviction of its founders.
The three founders all have a background in logistics – chief executive officer Raymond Gillon has 20 years’ experience, chief operating officer Mudasar Mohamed and director of sales Nicky Lum both have 12 years. They were colleagues at international supply-chain management company UTI Worldwide.
“The founding team is the critical element. I can’t stress enough how important it is in this business to have people from the industry. We’re not just young kids with some programming experience starting a company; we’re industry veterans,” stresses Mudasar.
In fact, the idea for Ezyhaul was born out of their industry experience. “Having worked in the industry before, we realised there was a lot of inefficiencies,” says Gillon.
He explains: in road-to-road transportation, an average truck that you see on the road is typically either half-full or completely empty, which means that large amounts of capacity are unutilised in what is essentially an assets-based industry.
“We realised that if we had a solution to utilise that empty capacity, there were going to be a lot of benefits for different parties,” he says. Companies shipping goods could get lower rates and make better use of the empty capacity in the market while transportation companies could get better utilisation of assets, make more revenue and have higher profitability. “You’re basically running a better business.”
This problem of underutilised capacities has been around for ages but is only now able to be solved due to the evolution of technology. “Modern technology has made this possible. We have built a real technology solution in-house to effectively address this problem,” says Gillon.
The founders stress that though there are other similar businesses around, what makes Ezyhaul unique is that while other companies focus on trucking and tracing, it is focused on the business-to-business (B2B) segment, which has stringent requirements.
According to Gillon, most companies, especially multinationals, have high standards in terms of security and safety, and require goods to be on time and undamaged. “We took all this into consideration when building the software and integrating the technology and built in a lot of features that help us meet the requirements of the B2B segment.”
Because a lot of its clients Ezyhaul are similar to those the founders have worked with before, identifying and addressing their problems was relatively easy.
“We know the people in the industry and we understand their headaches. If we can take part of their headaches away, we can make transportation easier and more efficient for them. That’s why we’re here,” says Gillon.
Mudassar cites an example of a client, a multibillion-dollar company that was managing its drivers through Whatsapp and Excell sheets. “From a tech perspective, the industry is about 15 years behind. We are bringing a Tesla car to people who are driving an old Fiat,” he says.
“I think we’ve come at an opportune time. The industry is ready to move into the 21st century and I think we’re getting it there.”
Penetrating an industry that is still extremely conservative when it comes to technology application and traditionally slow in terms of technology adoption is difficult but Gillon says Ezyhaul is pleased with current adoption rates.
Mudasar explains that there are essentially two parties to deal with – the trucking companies and the shippers. The former present a little more of a challenge because most drivers are not very technologically advanced and require some training on how to use the app. Adoption and use among shippers is easier as they already do use some technology in daily operations.
Currently, Ezyhaul as 150 companies shipping with it; these comprise, among others, manufacturing companies, trading companies and third-party logistics companies who do not have their own trucks.
The platform has more than 800 trucks and aims for 2,500 and 400-500 clients by the end of the year. Gillon says Ezyhaul will hit profitability in the next 2 years. Mudasar adds that growth rather than profitability is a goal, but the team is confident in reaching profitability in the Malaysian market.
Credibility a step to expansion
One important value proposition Ezyhaul brings to clients is scale – with the amount of trucks on the platform, there is hardly ever a time when a truck is not available. “Access to fleet is one of our biggest strengths and one of the main reasons people want to work with us,” says Mudasar.
This, however, is not what gave the startup, which has been in Malaysia a little more than 6 months, a foot in the door. Though Ezyhaul is relatively unknown and a small company with a limited marketing budget, market penetration is good due in no small part to the founders’ professional networks.
“That brings a certain credibility to the company and makes it an easy sell. One thing that’s important to note is that this solution is as much online as offline – the tech makes things efficient but it’s the experience and operations team we have that really drive the quality of the product. It’s this unique mix that brings value to clients,” says Gillon.
Ezyhaul’s industry credibility has also meant that it has attracted some of its private investors are from the industry as well, which Mudasar says is validation of its business model.
“They understand the industry and the business model, and they understand us as founders. That certainly gave them the confidence to invest in this startup,” adds Gillon.
Ezyhaul closed its seed round in August last year; the amount, which was not disclosed, has been used to further develop the technology from the original MVP (minimum viable product) and to expand the team – to launch operations in Malaysia and build technology.
Gillon says the startup still has quite a bit of runway left but is always in discussion with investors as it has ambitions to expand to other markets with Indonesia – due to size and opportunities – and Thailand, which offers good synergies for cross-border traffic.
Mudasar cites entrepreneur and futurist Elon Musk as an inspiration for successfully doing what initially seems impossible. “On a scale of zero to Elon Musk, we are half way there,” he quips.
The leap from corporate mavens to entrepreneurs is certainly challenging. “You cannot not like doing what you do, not because you’re running your own business but because this is an experience like no other. There’s something exciting about building something from scratch,” says Mudasar.
“There are quite a few challenges, but you don’t do this to become rich. Every day is a learning experience for us and we’re loving it.”
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