How He Built AirAsia’s Logistics Arm Teleport From Scratch In Singapore

Phan Chee Hau has extensive experience working in the telecommunications industry, working for giants like Huawei and Maxis.

After completing her Masters degree from Monash University in 2017, Shivendra Singh (Shiv), then MyRepublic’s Marketing Director, offered her a role to help launch and manage her mobile business. This is how the Malaysian ended up working in Singapore.

Shiv has since become a “dear friend and mentor” to Chee Hau. A year ago, Shiv recommended it to Teleport CEO Pete Chareonwongsak, when they were looking for someone to help start the delivery business in Singapore.

Founded in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, Teleport is the logistics company of the AirAsia group of airlines. It was originally known as RedCargo Logistics before changing its name in 2019.

Teleport was originally launched as a motion control command (MCO) initiative to support local businesses, but the airline eventually wanted to provide longer-term support by offering businesses the lowest commission model. from the city.

Growing teleportation in the midst of a pandemic

“Without thinking too much, I joined Teleport at lightning speed in May 2020 in the middle of the breaker (period),” said Chee Hau, who is now the company’s chief growth officer.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from a Growth Manager when I got on board. But now I realized that was about it to make our business work, as we are still new to Singapore.

When he first joined, Teleport didn’t even have an office in Singapore, so he had to work in his rented HDB room.

teleportation delivery
Image Credit: Teleportation

On her first day on the job, the then chief growth officer asked her to start deliveries to Singapore next week. Basically he needed to find both merchants and delivery partners within 10 days.

“It literally scared me (because) we (still) didn’t have anything in Singapore,” Chee Hau said.

“We had to train these drivers to use our app through Zoom sessions, and I had to learn how to manage deliveries from colleagues based in Kuala Lumpur, as I had never performed operations before, let alone logistics, which was new to me. “

Chee Hau pretty much scrambled on his own to make things work. He did whatever was necessary for the deliveries to take place, and managed to “magically” get there using whatever resources he could get his hands on.

He leveraged their business partners in Malaysia, airline ground staff in Singapore and all connections on their social media platforms to get started.

Regarding the growth of the team, Chee Hau said that the entire interview, recruitment and onboarding process is done remotely through Zoom. All of his new team members who joined him were also working remotely from home to manage their delivery operations.

Just like Google, Apple and Amazon started in a garage, Teleport Singapore started in an HDB.

– Phan Chee Hau, Growth Manager at Teleport Singapore

Under this optimism that they may one day become as good as the tech giants, Chee Hau confessed that he was actually going through a very difficult time at the time. He had lost his beloved father the same day Teleport offered him the role.

However, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, he was unable to return to Malaysia to attend his funeral.

Regardless, Chee Hau steadfastly kept his commitments with Teleport and worked every day for three months without taking any days off. He was determined to grow and strengthen the delivery business – it was his way of making his late parents proud.

Conquering the SEA delivery space

teleport airasia
Image Credit: Teleportation

“Teleport offers door-to-door logistics services all over Southeast Asia,” Chee Hau explained.

It has exclusive access to AirAsia’s network of over 125 cities and 10,000 weekly flights across the Asia-Pacific region and 164 countries through its interline partners to North America, South America, Europe , Africa, Asia and Australia.

One of Teleport’s core business areas is leveraging technology to consolidate the end-to-end logistics process (i.e. Belly Space, First Mile, Execution to the Last Mile) , which is essential for a seamless customer experience.

Teleport began its first instant deliveries to Singapore in May 2020, just days before the breaker was lifted. It was also about a month and a half after door-to-door on-demand deliveries began in Kuala Lumpur.

It currently offers two types of delivery services: a 60-minute “Instant” delivery service and a four-hour “Flash” delivery service.

According to Chee Hau, their merchant customer base includes central kitchen operators, florist markets and entrepreneurial businesses that rely heavily on a reliable logistics delivery partner for their day-to-day needs.

“We deliver a wide range of items locally in Singapore; from takeaways like dim sum and hawker “zi char”, to bouquets of flowers and cheesecakes. Some of the brands you may be familiar with – Flower Chimp, Shake Farm, Ayam Penyet, Wingzone and Popeyes – are all powered by Teleport, ”he added.

In the coming weeks, Teleport will also start international deliveries with a delivery time of less than 24 hours. It is currently operational in 77 cities in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

They weren’t the first, but they can be the best

Like many other startups, Chee Hau admitted that they don’t have all of the “tech bells and whistles”. The extremely lean operating model also meant that it was mostly a ‘one-kick’ operation.

teleport Tony Fernandes
Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia / Image credit: Teleport

I remember just a week after we launched the pilots said our app was crap. Prospective traders have (also) said that we are at least three years behind in the industry.

But as Tony Fernandes (CEO of AirAsia) said, when the airline started up, both of our planes were old and we laughed. We weren’t the first to launch a low cost airline, but we have learned from others.

– Phan Chee Hau, Growth Manager at Teleport Singapore

He added that it is not magic for airasia to become what it is today; the same goes for Teleport.

Instead of complaining about their obstacles, they found their way through critical thinking and problem solving. They also automated most of the repetitive and manual processes to help different teams in different countries work together.

Today, Teleport has over 370 employees and plans to grow to around 500 employees by the end of this year.

When asked what was the turning point that helped accelerate Teleport’s growth, Chee Hau cited the launch of airasia food in Singapore.

He felt that the initial struggle for Teleport was to secure sufficient order volume to fuel the recruitment of Airasia’s delivery team. However, within days of launching airasia food here, they received thousands of entries.

They had to conduct training sessions via Zoom for nearly 800 of them in the space of three days. Chee Hau described it as a “remarkable achievement” for the team, as normal workouts typically only consist of around 20 people.

Teleport now powering airasia food deliveries in Singapore as well, they have over 1350 registered runners and drivers to date, all of whom are part of the airasia delivery team.

They will continually hire more to expand the team as airasia strives to better meet the increasing demands for delivery to Singapore.

This is just the start of teleportation

teleportation delivery
Image Credit: Teleportation

Commenting on Teleport’s growth to date, Chee Hau said he has seen an average growth rate of 235 percent per month.

(We hope) to keep our deliveries above 10,000 per month. Some may think this is an insignificant number compared to the big players, but we’re just getting started. We’re just warming up our engines and getting ready for takeoff.

– Phan Chee Hau, Growth Manager at Teleport Singapore

On that note, Chee Hau stressed that their entry into Singapore is not a sign that they want to compete with the big guys here and fight for a piece of the delivery pie. Their goal is simply to provide better value for businesses, with affordable, transparent pricing and fast delivery speeds.

In fact, according to CAPA – Center for Aviation, Teleport is now the second largest cargo airline group in Southeast Asia (by capacity) after Singapore Airlines Cargo in July 2019.

In fiscal 2019, Teleport generated $ 113.7 million in revenue and $ 66 million in 2020.

Despite declining revenues, Teleport posted a positive EBITDA of RM17 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, although it was severely affected by declining freight capacity due to border closures. Positive EBITDA was attributable to its transformation in 2020 from a primarily freight logistics company to a key player in last mile delivery.

For 2021, it had kicked off the first quarter by being designated to deliver future vaccines arriving in Kuala Lumpur in East Malaysia, and partnering with McDonald’s Philippines to be its delivery service provider for Metro Manila.

Going forward, Teleport will continue to expand its partnership with airlines to strengthen its logistics, while working to convert some passenger aircraft to cargo-only aircraft.

Besides Singapore, it will also expand its door-to-door delivery services to key cities in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Featured Image Credit: Teleport / AirAsia

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Jothi Venkat

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