SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is venturing into the on-demand logistics space, its SPH Media Fund having led a US$1.5 million funding round to invest in Selangor-based lorry and van booking service TheLorry.
This Series A round, in which Silicon Valley-based Elixir Capital participated, marks SPH Media Fund's first investment in a Malaysia startup to-date, and its second investment announced in 2016.
"There is much room for disruption in the South-east Asian logistics space and TheLorry has been particularly strong in adding value to businesses with commercial cargo," Chua Boon Ping, chief executive of SPH Media Fund, said on Monday.
TheLorry, launched in September 2014, allows businesses to book a lorry or van - for the delivery of goods - in under 30 seconds. With the money, the startup plans to strengthen its presence and offerings in Malaysia, and prepare for regional expansion.
Co-founder Nadhir Ashafiq told BT: "We plan to launch our Singapore operations around mid-2016. We think there's a demand for an efficient platform that will allow users to book safe, experienced and reputable transport providers."
A new service that will allow both individual and commercial customers to save cost through consolidation and space optimisation is also in the works. Said TheLorry's other co-founder Goh Chee Hau: "Customers will be able to pay for just the item(s) that they wish to send, instead of paying for the whole vehicle. Rather than charging by the charter price, which some customers find cost-prohibitive, we'll offer this new, more cost effective option where they can send a few items that would take up minimal space in the lorry or van."
Asked how it plans to differentiate itself from other players in the region (such as Hong Kong's GoGoVan and lalamove, and Singapore's Ninja Van), Mr Nadhir said: "TheLorry specialises only in large commercial vehicles (such as) one-tonne lorries and above. Our solution is catered to heavy or bulky items."
TheLorry's B2B (business-to-business) focus was a key selling point for SPH Media Fund, said Mr Chua, who cited other factors such as the "tremendous traction" it has built in Malaysia, and the latter's large amount of cross-border trade with Singapore.
Mr Chua added: "SPH Media Fund is constantly on the look-out for businesses that complement the different core businesses of SPH. On-demand platforms are disruptors of the classifieds and listings business - they cut the need for listings, as traditional businesses place their resources on a platform that directly connects demand and supply in real-time."
Earlier this month, the S$100 million SPH Media Fund announced its first investment of the year - part of a US$1.68 million "pre-Series A" funding - in Snapcart, an Indonesia-based cashback and consumer insight app.
On Monday, SPH shares closed four Singapore cents lower at S$3.52.
This article was first published on Jan 19, 2016.
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