A group of millennials build up a system that connected over 3000 tons of cargos to departing trucks with empty backs, bring an addition income of over billions dong for carriers.
Despite ups and downs, the group of graduated students from National Economic University (Vietnam) pursue the dream of creating a connecting system between goods owners and departing trucks with empty backs. At the time being, the founding team turn down the opportunity billion-dong investment to keep the startup corporation under their control.
From the demand on connection between goods owners and departing trucks with empty backs
Being the winner of Philosophy Olympic at the university since freshman year and one of the best students in campus, Le Dinh Giap was given the name of “Giap the superman” by his peers in National Economic University (Vietnam). As a person with curiosity and creativity since the early age, the junior student had the dream of excellent academic base to be his own boss rather than to have an impressive resume for a decent job.
In 2015, the Ministry of Traffic and Transportation in Vietnam announced that about 70% of trucks had no cargo in their backs on their departing way, which meant that seven out of ten inter-provincial trucks had empty backs on their departing way. Consequently, to make up for income loss, carriers had to require more amount of payment than that of two-way trucks. This fact was one of the reasons why logistics costs in Vietnam accounted for 25% of GDP.
Many people had the demand on finding departing trucks with empty backs in order to have low cost, but it was not easy to find one. Vietnam had 65,000 licensed transportation corporations, among those, about 16,000 professional transportation units. If both goods owners and carriers could be gathered in one system and provided self-updating and self-tracking, the costs would be much lower for both sides.
Being aware of the demand, Giap came up with the idea of building a website to connect goods owners to departing trucks with empty backs. The website was operated by direct fee after every successful transaction as well as advertisements with high session. The project named NetLoading later on claimed first prize of “Road to Entrepreneurship” Competition hosted by National Economic University (Vietnam). This was also the only project by students that was yet to launch product to be the runner-up of “National Startup” Competition hosted by Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
With the intention of joining some competitions, three members of the project left. Contrary to popular belief, Giap determined to make dream come true. He found another two partners also in their early 20s who saw the project’s potential. Le Thi Nga is major in Marketing, Le Dang Quynh has strengths in finance and design.
From a small amount of reward from competitions and money borrowed from family and friends, Giap and his friends had the capital of nearly 150 million dong to start the company. In April 2016, the first product version was launched.
To rough reality
It was about 10p.m, three young founders still sat quietly in front of their laptops. It was almost the end of the company’s first year, there was nothing but the complete website. It was not a co-working space or an idea cafe which were associated with new startup, the current workplace of the group was a small room in a 30-square-meter house, which was Nga’s rental house. In that evening, Giap spent 70,000 dong in his 75,000 dong left for his founding team’s dinner.
At home, Giap was full of thoughts. His partners were so talented but they decided to cope with hardship for his own path. Giap decided to borrow 50 million dong for human resources and other activities, his two friends still worked for the project without any payment. Nga had to take another part-time job, while Quynh struggled with his family for not having an “actual” job. Giap himself had to work at a shipper in the evening for a living. A 22-year-old man who is 5ft.9″ tall was just 114.6 lbs.
For two months, the three friends came to every truck parking lot in Hanoi to get to know more about carriers and to demonstrate their product. Under the heat of 104 degree Fahrenheit of the afternoon in Hanoi, when other office staff was enjoying air conditioner, they were on the road waiting for truck drivers to stop their journey for market research. The research proved that Giap’s theory was correct with 90% of private trucks had empty backs on departing way. However, when carriers were introduced to the product, they shared the same opinion that the product was not suitable.
The pressure was on the leader of the group, Giap was silent for hours, wondering why their solution was suitable for the problem and charge free but the carriers still did not want to use. He realized that drivers travelled a lot, they had no time for checking the website for transportation requests and fee.
Giap told his self: “I has to develop a new version of the product and this version has to be practical to carriers.”
However, due to the lack of capital, the group had to rely on personal relationships to find a new IT group for an application with reasonable charge. Giap and Quynh developed the product as well as persuaded carriers to cooperate while Nga used her skills for promotion and investors.
In April 2017, a new application was launched with the cooperation of 300 carriers. Even though the number of users was 250, NetLoading succeeded in connecting over 3,000 tons of cargos to departing trucks with empty backs, brought the income of 1.5 billion dong for drivers.
At this time, young company founders has received several cooperation offer with the capital of three to five billion dong from some big companies but the leaders of those companies want merger other than investment. With the intention of having their own brand, the young founding team refused those offers.
Even if profit is yet to be made, the project starts to have income, carriers and goods owners gradually know about the system that connects departing trucks. In this year, the young founding team determines to make profit and to find investors.
“Just remember not to stop trying, nothing is impossible. This idea is successfully operated in China, Singapore, India,… so it is in Vietnam. The only thing matters is just who has the guts to go first.” – the young CEO firmly believes.