Transport startup deals with mobility constraints
George Royeca is cofounder and chief transport advocate of DBDOYC Inc., better known for its Angkas ride-hailing bike service in the Philippines. George was a recipient of The Outstanding Young Men awards in 2020. In this interview, he shared his thoughts on differentiation and strategy as a startup.
Q1: Can you update us on how many Angkas services you have offered, and in how many metro cities so far? What other non-ride hailing services are in the pipeline?
George: Currently, transportation is our biggest service. We also have logistics, which is our padala service, and concierge service, which is our pabili service, both in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. Recently, we successfully completed pilot and we’re launching commercially the Red Cross partnership on home service for saliva RT-PCR (COVID-19 test).
In the future, health is going to be an important part of our content pipeline or service pipeline: providing home service for laboratories, blood work etc., even telemedicine. But also, in a very big way, we want to be able to really optimize or maximize deliveries and logistics for the country.
Q2: What is the vision of Angkas? Are you going the route of Gojek as a super app in Indonesia, or will you also evolve, like Grab or Lime Bike Rental in the United States, or turn into something else?
George: The vision of Angkas is mobility on two wheels. We want to be able to do everything around the two-wheel ecosystem. Our stakeholders are, of course, our customers or passengers for both transport and logistics, and eventually for food.
Our other equally important stakeholders are our bikers in whom we create new entrepreneurs in two wheels. The hope is to be able to provide mobility and alternative transportation options for everybody.
Q3: What are the key challenges of offering a ride-hailing bike service in the Philippines? What about non-ride hailing services? How are you solving these challenges?
George: The key challenges in the Philippines right now are pandemic-related. I mean, the market is down and a lot of people are doing work from home, therefore there’s not a lot of people leaving their homes needing transport and mobility. Since majority of our services are passenger transport, this has really impacted us quite significantly. But just the same, we’re very confident that when the economy does start to go back, especially with the vaccinations happening, the need for public transportation will always be there.
The challenge right now is how to expand to various verticals that will make it efficient for the bikers to earn money throughout the day across transport, logistics and other services, such as health.
Q4: There are now other ride-hailing bike service providers. Why should consumers choose Angkas? Why should drivers choose to work with Angkas?
George: I think that being the pioneer, we had a good head start. The brand of Angkas is very strong and we pride ourselves in safety. And we have the highest safety record, not just in the Philippines, but I believe across the region, with a 99.997 percent safety record (0.003 percent accident rate). We’re not a purely business endeavor, but also an advocacy that continues to fight for the rights of regular Filipinos to take care of his family using a motorcycle. This impacts millions of Filipinos nationwide, and I think that resonates with a lot of our customers. We’ve really built a community around it. So, if you’re using Angkas service, you somehow support our cause to generate meaningful and dignified livelihood for many low-income families.
Safety has always been the most compelling aspect of our service and we’ve made sure that our standards are the highest across the board in terms of providing insurance, customer service and biker training. If we were a school, we’d be the biggest school for motorcycle safety training in the entire country. With over 150,000 bikers trained for free and passing only 30 percent, this shows that bikers of Angkas are among the best in the metro.
Q5: If you were to start all over again, which part would you have changed before or while operating Angkas?
George: Interesting enough, I may not change anything. The challenges of Angkas have also led to the strength of its brand. The way we persevered also inspired a very tight-knit community borne out of our collective struggle. So, I think that kind of feeds into both sides, the good and the bad, so to speak. Challenges created opportunities for us and without those challenges, those opportunities wouldn’t have been made available.
If we weren’t so controversial, maybe we wouldn’t be as big or as relevant.
Josiah Go is chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. His works can be viewed in www.josiahgo.com