A fast-growing logistics company, Ninja Van was designed for one thing: to provide technology-led solutions to the challenges of last-mile deliveries. We speak to the CEO, Lai Chang Wen, about the obstacles of launching a business with no prior expertise, and the importance of preparation when developing customer relationships
What are some of the challenges your company faced when starting up in Singapore and how did you go about solving them?
Lai: When we started Ninja Van, none of us had any prior experience in the logistics industry. Our biggest challenge was simply not knowing enough. Thankfully, the start-up ecosystem in Singapore allowed us to access invaluable advice and wisdom from industry experts, mentors and co-founders of other businesses.
Singapore was recently ranked the most expensive city in the world, which impacts the cost of doing business here. However, this has not fazed us. Instead, we’ve decided to build Ninja Van in an efficient manner with strong business acumen. We provide businesses with innovative technology-based logistics solutions, and this approach has made us one of the fastest-growing logistics companies in Southeast Asia.
Customers are often busy at work or out with their friends and don't want to be confined to a fixed delivery time. So we came up with Ninja Collect, which enables them to pick up deliveries from partner retailers, and Ninja Boxes, which are automated parcel lockers strategically located across the country. Customers can collect their parcel simply by scanning a verification code, which has been sent to them via email/SMS.
How do you build new relationships for your business?
Lai: Being an entrepreneur, it is vital to build relationships with all types of people. We do this by going to networking events and conferences or through introductions made by our investors, colleagues and partners.
How do you like potential business partners to reach out to you?
Lai: As I spend a lot of time travelling around Southeast Asia to expand our business regionally, it can be hard to reach me through phone. Therefore, chat apps, social media and good old email are great ways to reach me.
What is your most effective tip for driving sales?
Lai: You must have utmost confidence in yourself and the product or service that you're trying to sell. When you develop a deep understanding of what you're trying to sell and at the same time believe unequivocally in the intrinsic value it will provide your customer, you will be 100 times more confident when entering a sales pitch than someone who's winging it.
Seasoned business professionals have been pitched to a million times before and can immediately sense when a salesperson is unprepared. So the key is to be thoroughly prepared before entering a sales meeting and your confidence will do the rest.
What do you think about a business card management service such as Sansan?
Lai: Young professionals these days are incredibly busy with their work as well as their personal lives. A service such as Sansan can really help entrepreneurs and working professionals become more organised.