The current Covid-19 pandemic made us feel blessed with modern technologies of which became a necessity to us. As businesses closed down, we can still use online platforms to acquire food, logistics and other essential services.

Businesses must try to understand their end-users

The ongoing worldwide pandemic situation and the imposed lockdowns and movement control order (MCO) lead a multitude of businesses — not only in Malaysia but globally — to shut down and halt their operation. However, recently, the government had lightened the MCO and provided conditions to enable certain industries to resume their businesses.

Concerned for businesses that are currently not making any positive income, Cyberview Malaysia, a global tech hub, recently organised a webinar (web seminar) on ‘Startups: Navigating the New Norm’ for business owners who are struggling during this challenging time.

The forum held on Zoom, highlighted Finnext Capital’s business director, Aizat Rahim, co-founder and managing director of TheLorry, Nadhir Ashafiq, and a representative from Cyberview, Siti Shafinaz Mohd Salim as the speakers.

During the forum, many things were discussed. All the speakers agreed on how rocky the road ahead will be for businesses trying to survive the MCO. Many sectors were affected in terms of revenue and it is a scary time for SMEs.

Nadhir, as an entrepreneur admitted that it was an emotional period for them. “But, we have to understand and accept that this is not easy. We are not Superman, Superwoman. We have our flaws and weaknesses.”

He opined that facing challenges while operating a business is something normal. “All we can do for now is to tough it out and map out all the potential scenarios. Control what you can, and look through again the scenarios that you can’t control.”

On the other hand, Aizat chose to look on the positive side despite the current downfall, “We can see an obvious trend in consumers purchasing online in the form of food deliveries and online groceries.”

He also added that it would take at least six months for businesses to bounce back and this in turn, will affect the employment rate. “With companies badly affected, they would need to recover from losses before they can start employing.”

TheLorry’s strategy during the tough times

With his experience in the logistics industry, Nadhir shared that while some sectors of his company had stopped, others were still running.

This is because TheLorry’s main core is to provide transportation of bulky items. “While our house moving service had stopped, transporting bulky items and distributions for multinational companies remained running.”

TheLorry is currently based in four countries — Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. With the current MCO and lockdowns in these countries, the company aptly introduced a grocery delivery service with the a ‘personal shopper’ concept.

A question was raised during the webinar forum, ‘Do businesses opened during MCO sees a downfall of trend post-MCO?’

Nadhir answered, “We thought about it. The thing about startups were the limited resources to pick and choose which segment would create the best return in investment.”

He continued, by predicting that TheLorry’s grocery delivery service will scontinue post-MCO, and until a vaccine is found. “In my opinion, there will still be demands for grocery services, food delivery services and even e-learning, or any virtual collaborations post-MCO.”

Aizat concluded that businesses must try to understand their end-users. “At the end of the day, it is all about user experiences. If they enjoy your services, they will be loyal.”

About the speakers

Siti Shafinaz Mohd Salim currently holds the post of head of technology hub development division in Cyberview Sdn Bhd since 2017. She has more than 10 years of working experience in various capacities.

Her vast experience includes strategy and planning, investment promotions, assessment of multiple software technologies and solutions, technopreneurs and enterprises capability development, and had managed more than 100 clients at one time from local Start-Ups, LLCs to technology MNCs.

Nadhir Ashafiq is the co-Founder & executive director of TheLorry — a regional logistics platform that connects customers to lorry, truck, van and 4×4 pickup truck drivers in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

He previously co-founded Glokalise, a social networking app and has experience working in air freight logistics and investment banking.

In 2017, TheLorry founders, Nadhir and Goh Chee Hau made headlines when both they and their company made it on the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. Nadhir believes in doing things that matter.

He is also passionate about developing the next generation of technology entrepreneurs and currently sits in the Malaysia Innovation Policy Council (MIPC) and National Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Council (MKPTN). He is also the Vice President of Persatuan Usahawan & Industry ICT Bumiputera Malaysia (NEF). In July 2019, Nadhir was selected as an Endeavor

Entrepreneur in the 88th International Selection Panel in Tokyo.
Aizat Rahim is the partner of Finnext Capital, a B2B Retail Transformation & Corporation Innovation company, with the mission to build, accelerate and innovate Malaysia’s leading corporations & companies. Their vision is to develop a vibrant innovation-ecosystem by investing in technology, people and ideas through strategic partnerships.

Aizat is also the co-founder of Dropee.com, a B2B eCommerce Marketplace. Their platform allows businesses to get connected to buy and sell in bulk, and their Enterprise Solution allows businesses to streamline their operational processes to work more efficiently and effectively.

Ways for businesses to navigate into the new norm:

Siti Shafinaz Mohd Salim

Siti Shafinaz Mohd Salim from Cyberview Sdn Bhd

  1. Be alert and respond immediately on current situation — learn to accustom themselves with different crisis
  2. Use this pandemic as an opportunity to search for room for extension
  3. Learn to use the internet as a business opportunity — embracing digitalisation is the current trend. “There is a behavioural shift of consumers transitioning to e-commerce.”

Business Director of Finnext Capital Aizat Rahim

Aizat Rahim
  1. Research on aids — many government and agencies offer incentives and aids to assist businesses during this MCO.
  2. Broaden your horizon — always try new things and see what succeed. Continue to build new product and solution to appeal to consumers.
  3. Be mindful of cash back and understand the in and out of cash. FYI revenue and cash are not the same.

Co-founder and Managing Director of TheLorry, Nadhir Ashafiq

Nadhir Ashafiq
  1. Assumed the worst case scenario.
  2. If revenue is slash, then the operating expenses should also be slashing. For example, both founders of TheLorry had a pay cut by 60 per cent to keep company afloat.
  3. Look into which sector can a business penetrate. During this MCO, essential services are important. “That is why we ventured into food logistics and grocery logistics.”
  4. Map out different scenarios to understand the cash situation — which operating expenses fit the targeted revenue.
  5. Most importantly, do not watch only the cash inflow but also the outflow.