“Entrepreneurs can’t afford Monday Blues. Personally, I look forward to Mondays and I dread Fridays”
– Nadhir Ashafiq
What is TheLorry? Think of Uber but for lorry rental in Malaysia. With one app, you will be connected with ease to a lorry or 4×4 vehicle that you can rent, be it to move houses or for delivery of large-size goods. For a fixed price quotation, renting a reliable lorry and its driver has never been easier. The two responsible for this game-changing app are Goh Chee Hau and his co-founder, Nadhir Ashafiq.
Behind every successful entrepreneur, often lies a story of humble and usually funny beginnings. As TheLorry’s co-founder shared with us in an exclusive interview, it was at his first non-professional job that he was first introduced to the art of customer satisfaction. As a waiter in a restaurant, Nadhir had to adapt to small but meaningful ways to serve his customers better such as lowering himself to their height to ensure they would be more comfortable with his service.
His process of learning and adapting to customers’ satisfaction and needs did not stop there; TheLorry’s early days as a two-man team saw him moonlighting as ‘Adam’, his online customer service representative alter-ego responsible for answering customers’ enquiries and handling any issues arising from using his platform while his partner Chee Hau handled other parts of the business. Today, TheLorry is more than the two-man team it was in its inception and Adam has been retired though Nadhir himself continues to give his all as part of the management team.
Plenty of budding entrepreneurs are hesitant to leave their stable jobs in order to pursue their dream of kickstarting a business. To this, Nadhir would encourage others to take the same leap of faith he did, but to do so with caution. Give yourself a time frame to achieve your goals and make sure you can sustain yourself financially throughout the entire time frame. Resigning in January 2014, Nadhir limited himself to a time frame of 12 months where he would pull the plug on his dreams if he hadn’t achieved something tangible by December. TheLorry kicked off just nicely on the ninth month in that timeframe, September saw the website going live and receiving orders!
It’s one thing to have a dream and another to be able to finance it. Nadhir shared his take on a blessing in disguise that his application for a personal financing loan was rejected. The loan was offered with a high price tag, a 12% interest rate! With a wry grin, he told us how his partner and him maxed out their credit cards in order to pull TheLorry during the days before their successful pitching for investment. It was not a wise move, he confided in us, but thankfully it pulled off and has now been all cleared. In the early stages, it is best to raise funds from friends and family. Avoid debts if possible!
When he pitched earlier on to Cradle Seed Venture Capital, he was quickly shot down as his idea was similar to something the panel of judges had seen previously. It is important to do your research well before a pitch. In addition to that, opting for funding from angel investors and venture capital funds always depend on the type of growth you seek for your business. One needs to be sure if you are going for the slow-game organic growth or aiming for exponential growth with help of external investments into the business.
Describing his weekly management routine, Nadhir cited Mondays as his favourite day as it is the day he conducts all meetings with the entire team behind TheLorry. 3Ps colour the theme of Mondays for him; Progress, Problem and Plan. On a weekly basis, the team go through these three sections; they work through the problems, discuss what to do with the current progress as well as plan for another week to come. The secret behind keeping the team working together cohesively? A spirited high-5 after each meeting as a show of teamwork and team spirit.
While the internal mechanism of TheLorry is a strong and well-managed machinery, it still faces the heat of competition from external sources. Surprisingly, this did not worry Nadhir too much as he keeps his cool and focuses on the crux of his priorities: his product and its betterment. “There’s too much to do within and we’re better off not bothering ourselves too much over our competitors”, he sums up simply. With that perspective in place, TheLorry is now looking to expand into Thailand and Singapore, with or without the presence of competitors in both countries.
Recently, Nadhir and his co-founder were listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 in the field of Industry, Manufacturing & Energy. While grateful for the recognition, it has not changed his take onto the importance of humility. He observes that while TheLorry is a success story in Malaysia, there are other similar ventures operating in China and Hong Kong that operate on a higher volume and there will always been someone that is more successful. Yet, he noted, that while these ventures are so big in size and operating volume, humility is still evident in their founders.
Nadhir did not start TheLorry with only profits and his own career progress in mind. It was a vision of economic empowerment that he saw and pursued for one side of the business, the lorry drivers. While there are plenty of lorry drivers on the road, it is not a job viewed as a lucrative one. He wanted to change that and to empower them by eradicating urban poverty through entrepreneurship. In his attempts to raise awareness about the app, Nadhir personally went all around Malaysia to introduce lorry drivers to a lifechanging platform, TheLorry.
Has it all been successful? Judging from a sharp change of hiring lorries through spray-painted phone numbers on planks nailed to trees to being able to hire a reliable lorry renting service through TheLorry from the comfort of one’s home. Transforming the lives of the lorry drivers for the better alongside improving customer experience of hiring lorries, TheLorry is here to permanently shift the scene for the better.