Passion, survival, delivery apps drive ‘new normal’ in transport

Published August 1, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Last mile logistics thriving

 Austinn Lacson, 22, is passionate about cooking, which gave him the leverage to jump into the online selling bandwagon across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Staying home more than usual during the pandemic,” said Lacson, who received his culinary degree two years ago. His passion for cooking allowed him to “try new things and this motivated me to turn my passion for cooking into a business venture.”

So far, Lacson’s Todos Rekados, which makes 100 percent home cooked meals, has already delivered to several areas like Malabon, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Bulacan, Navotas, Manila, and Pasig City.

And like many other aspiring businesses, he gets by with the help of delivery service apps like Angkas, Lalamove, and Grab Express.

“These apps are a great help especially in these times,” Lacson told Business Bulletin.  

For motorcycle taxi company Angkas, whose business is largely dependent on passenger transportation, the move to intensify its delivery services has nothing to do with passion but being on a survival mode amid the pandemic.

“Our core is still transportation. That’s our DNA. But we are pivoting in a massive way, doing what we can [amid the pandemic], in deliveries,” Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca said in an interview.

“Recently we launched Angkas Padala and Angkas Pabili. Angkas Pabili is the new service that we have where you can tell bikers to buy stuff for you and we provide the services for bikers to have capital for that,” he added.

In March, the company also started Angkas Food, allowing its riders to still operate not as motorcycle taxi drivers but food delivery drivers during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Right now, Angkas has around 30,000 bikers and while a lot of them are still active, Royeca said “they still get less work.”

“Angkas is not doing so well. The fleet has decreased. Drivers don’t earn what they usually make and as we move into GCQ [general community quarantine], the delivery demand went down as well. We are trying to do what we can to get by,” Royeca said.

Nevertheless, Royeca has remained hopeful. He hopes that the government will finally allow the operation of motorcycle taxis while his company transitions from 95 percent passenger transportation and 5 percent delivery services to 50 percent transportation and 50 percent delivery services.

“I think even after the pandemic, or if motorcycle taxis become approved or if it’s back on the streets, delivery will still be a substantial part of our business. Our goal is to make it 50-50 because of the fact that COVID-19 really accelerated digital consumption. People are now forced to transact online,” Royeca said.

As of now, Angkas Food has also been growing, he said, with more merchants joining in the app. 

“That is definitely going to be integrated into our services,” he further said.

Meanwhile, another business that has seen “future opportunities in the face of a pandemic” is MyKuya, a Filipino service super app that lets users hire people to do virtually any task, all with just a few easy clicks on their phone.

The company was founded in 2017 by Machine Ventures and the people behind HeyKuya, another text-based service business platform.

The MyKuya app is a one-stop on-demand service app and does motorcycle delivery as well as pay bills, do groceries and wash cars for its customers.

Three years into its launch, the app failed to become a household name. But unlike any other last mile logistics operators during these tough times, MyKuya is now on an expansion mode.

MyKuya country head Dennis Bunye said that during the first few days of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in mid-March this, the company saw an unprecedented increase in demand.

“Nabigla talaga kami sa pagdami ng users [We were really shocked by the increase in the number of our users,” Bunye said. “It was unlike anything we’d seen before and we had to work on the weekends just to keep up.” 

Because of this, MyKuya will now be expanding beyond Metro Manila and into provinces such as Cavite, Pangasinan, Quezon, and Zambales. The company also hopes to expand to Visayas and Mindanao.

During the ECQ, MyKuya tapped 7,000 new Kuyas and Ates to work for the app, many of whom were contractual workers that came from hard-hit industries like restaurants and tourism.

These Kuyas and Ates are now regularly given masks and hand sanitizers while undergoing routine temperature checks, ensuring they can be safe and healthy on the job.

“Here at MyKuya, we’ve always believed in providing meaningful employment,” Bunye said, adding that the firm aims to create one million job opportunities in the Philippines by 2022.