Focus

Monday, 20 April 2015

App-solutely easy

Mankind has always relied on technology to make their lives easier. It started with the invention of the wheel, and today, we seem to be able to run our entire lives from a smartphone.

The app-era has changed the way we do things, and it is about to get easier for all of us. Banking on the rise of “life-changing applications”, several tech companies in Malaysia have developed their own apps to help Malaysians simplify their lives. These days, you can get the services of plumbers, movers, grocers and more with just a tap on the screen.

Fresh food for you

Mankind has always relied on technology to make their lives easier. It started with the invention of the wheel, and today, we seem to be able to run our entire lives from a smartphone.

The era of the smartphone has changed the way we do things, and it is about to get easier for all of us.

Need to get your grocery? Let the HappyFresh people do the shopping for you.
Need to get your groceries? Let the HappyFresh people do the shopping for you.

Banking on the rise of "life-changing applications", several tech companies in Malaysia have developed their own apps to help Malaysians simplify their lives. These days, you can get the services of plumbers, movers, grocers and more with just a tap on the screen.

HappyFresh is one of the fastest growing food e-commerce companies in South-East Asia. Backed by experienced investors and built by seasoned entrepreneurs, it's a service that enables consumers to order a full assortment of groceries from their favourite supermarkets via a smartphone app and have it delivered to their doorstep.

This new grocery delivery app (available on Android and Apple devices) was launched recently and plans to revolutionise the way consumers shop for groceries throughout South-East Asia.

"HappyFresh will do the tedious work of your grocery shopping for you. It eliminates the stress of planning in advance and chasing time. Instead, fresh ingredients get delivered to your doorstep in as little as one hour," says the group CEO and co-founder Markus Bihler, who conceptualised HappyFresh from his passion for fresh food.

The idea for HappyFresh came about when the founding team was discussing the difficulties of fitting healthy meals into their busy routines.

"The only way was to eat out all the time. But we wanted to know what was going into our food and enjoyed being able to prepare simple meals at home with friends and family. Having fresh groceries delivered to your doorstep presented the solution," says Bihler.

HappyFresh has signed exclusive partnerships with a number of retailers in both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

In addition to the swift next-hour delivery, the differentiating quality of HappyFresh service comes from the fact that each order is fulfilled by a trained personal shopper who is permanently based at the partner stores and who ensures the freshness and quality of all picked products.

With a mobile-savvy local population in mind, HappyFresh provides a mobile-first solution to the problem with over 40,000 unique products available via the app at launch.

The founders of HappyFresh are keen to bring business development sense into the digital and app industry.

The team recognised the size of the grocery market in South-East Asia and the desire of urban population to eat healthy, which is often hindered by traffic snarls when going grocery shopping.

The Lori Sewa Boys

Though many industries in Malaysia have found technology to help them grow and innovate, the lorry rental business seems to be stuck in the 1980s.

You can still see lorries parked under trees in public car parks, hoping to get a customer for the day. Of course, there are also those who have invested in listings and advertisements but the numbers are hardly making a dent in the lori sewa (lorries-for-hire) business.

Goh (left) and partner Nadhir Ashafiq developed The Lorry after having worked a number of years in the logistics industry.
Goh (left) and partner Nadhir Ashafiq developed The Lorry after having worked a number of years in the logistics industry. 

Aiming to revolutionise the industry, two former logistics executives have developed a platform to connect lorry owners to clients.

TheLorry.com (The Lorry) is an on-demand delivery service that uses lorries for transportation, helping users to compare prices before they pick the lorry they want to use.

"We see this as a win-win situation for both lorry owners and customers," says Goh Chee Hau, one of the co-founders of The Lorry.

Both Goh and his partner, Nadhir Ashafiq, developed The Lorry, having worked in the traditional logistics industry for many years.

"Lorry owners and customers each have their own grouses. Our role – as the middle party – is to ensure that both parties are happy once the job is done. Customers want to pay the best price and receive quality service and the service provider wants more customers," says Goh.

As simple as the idea may sound and as convenient as it may seem for all parties involved, only 20% of all trucking companies and lorry owners that Goh and Nadhir contacted turned up for the initial briefing session.

But the duo persevered and, with an initial investment of RM20,000, they launched The Lorry with three trucking companies that owned 10 lorries registered with them.

"In the beginning it was really tough, and we were doing everything manually. Customers were calling us, and we had to call our service providers. Now, it is online and a customer can complete a booking within five minutes," explains Goh.

As they help to make it easier for Malaysians to find lorries when they want to move house or relocate their office, The Lorry has grown from a small startup to a company that can broker up to 80 trucks a day.

"We are looking at many things to make life easier for both parties. We are developing a mobile app, and we are looking at 100% online payment. We aim to service hundreds of customers a day in the near future," says Goh.

The company is not actively looking for funding at the moment but is open to talks with angel investors and venture capitalists in the near future. For now, they are focused on building their brand.

Anything and everything

"Don't worry, boss. I can kaodim for you" is a common saying among Malaysians. Kaodim in the Malaysian context can be translated as: "It will be taken care of", and that's exactly what Kaodim.com promises.

Calling themselves the smarter way to hire services, Kaodim founders Jeffri Cheong and Choong Fui-Yu are lawyers-turned-entrepreneurs who have a desire to disrupt the status quo.

Choong (left) and Cheong’s Kaodim lists a number of professionals for the service you need, whether plumbing, wiring or fitness, and you can then compare and choose.

"We wanted to create something for Malaysia that would change lives forever. We started talking about several ideas, and we realised that the service industry in Malaysia could use a revamp. If we could create an on-demand economy for services, it would surely impact the lives of Malaysians," says Cheong.

Launched in November 2014, Kaodim has served over 10,000 service requests from users – anything from arranging for plumbers to contractors to yoga instructors.

"At first, we were just playing matchmaker," says Cheong.

"Before Kaodim, people were reliant on peer-to-peer recommendation, but after we launched our site, people could select service providers based on reviews by the public, and they now have several options.

"For service providers, they are getting real leads and actual meetings with clients. Their business is growing as well," says Cheong.

Dubbed one of the big boys of Malaysian startups after they managed to raise US$550,000 (RM2.03mil) in seed funding, Kaodim saves people from spending too much time and effort hunting down the right service provider.

The company also takes pride in breaking down stereotypes and barriers.

"One of our top pick electricians is of Indian heritage. Imagine this – he was against putting up his picture as he said that his race would be a barrier for him in securing jobs. But having served a few customers well in the early days, he is now highly recommended and everybody wants him," explains Cheong.

Building on its success in Malaysia, Kaodim is looking to expand its business throughout Malaysia. With over 1,000 service providers signed up and growing, Kaodim is looking at Singapore and Jakarta as potential markets.

"Before Kaodim came about, people were just relying on recommendations from their family or friends, but now things have changed," says Cheong.


Tags / Keywords: Central Region , Smartphone apps , Information technology , Business

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