In this age of rapid e-commerce growth, the demand for delivery services is greater than ever. Vendors like Lalamove, MrSpeedy and GrabExpress are constantly increasing their fleet to keep up to date. In fact, Lalam extended in Penang and Johor recently in April.
But the demand for delivery services means ia more carbon footprint, especially since these delivery services are used on fuel-based vehicles, such as motorcycles, cars or vans.
There Jordi saw a gap in the delivery services market, and as a cycling enthusiast who wanted to cash in on his hobby, he founded Fast bike 2016. However, Jordi has not been on the Vélo Express since he migrated.
Not your average fleet
From its inception, the Vélo Express has gradually attracted the attention of many like Jordi himself, who were both passionate about cycling and wanted to make a living from it.
Because bicycles have their limitations, their services are currently only available in these areas:
|KL City Center||Greater KL|
They can cover up to 20 km within a delivery radius, and their prices range from 5 to 25 RM, depending on the distance traveled. This price is pretty standard compared to other vendors like GrabExpress and Lalam’s.
On average, the Vélo Express takes just under an hour to deliver, which honestly doesn’t wait too long, unless you urgently need to do something.
Among what they can deliver are groceries, packages and documents, and they can also perform printing, banking and other jobs.
Vélo Express does not have an application in which to book a cyclist, instead, you must call 03-41611766 to make a personal reservation. While this may seem like a less appropriate method of accessibility, it makes sense because the team is still small and would probably be overwhelmed by the requirements to have an app.
Bring your bike
Ever since Jordi left Malaysia, Vélo Express has now been taken over by Syahril, who started as a part-time worker. He was not satisfied with the full-time job and decided to resign because someone needed to take care of the Vélo Express.
Today Vélo Express has 2 administrators, 2 permanent cyclists (including Syahril) and 8 part-time workers. Anyone wishing to join the company must have their own bikes, and their team currently uses a mix of bikes with fixed, road and cargo equipment.
Bicycles with fixed equipment are common that you would probably have at home, road bikes have variable gears and are suitable for long-distance riding, and cargo bikes can carry heavy objects.
“With our special bag we can carry up to 5kg, our bike rack can also carry up to 5kg and our cargo bike can carry up to 15kg. The boxes in front of our bikes are called stands that help us carry extra things, ”Syahril explained to the Vulcan Post.
Accepting challenges along the way
Sometimes an MRT or LRT is used to assist their long-distance delivery delivery services, but the team will bear these additional costs without passing it on to customers.
“The hardest thing I delivered was animal feed and sand weighing 15kg, which we delivered with our cargo bike. And the weirdest thing we had to deliver was a big drawing board, ”Syahril recalled.
“I don’t think there’s any difficulty in delivering things, but challenging delivery is when someone orders a lot of things at once that requires more than one messenger.”
Cyclists with Vélo Express can earn between 200 and 1,000 RM per month, depending on how many jobs they take on. Vélo Express also currently works with 6 collaborating partners (local coffee roasters and restaurants) to help deliver food and coffee beans. These associates will pay on demand, allowing the team to have instant income when their services are needed.
During a pandemic, they would seek their services approximately 5-10 times a month, which Syahril admitted was not so much compared to when they worked with law firms and offices. Now that those offices practice WFH, Vélo Express had to find other service segments.
It’s a job that really requires passion
Although their concept of delivery service is still unique, in Malaysia it is unlikely to increase easily. After all, despite having been in business since 2016, their operating base is still largely contained in the Klang Valley.
Furthermore, there are no other players in this area that we could find, suggesting that this is a difficult concept if you are trying to make a profit, and it may not be worth the effort.
The team has more challenges every day, from fighting the misconception that a bicycle-based courier service is less reliable, to navigating dangerous KL roads thanks to poorly planned and maintained bike paths.
If Vélo Express wanted to expand to other states, they would have to open small offices in those areas and hire more manpower, such as leading a team to oversee and increase operations there.
To add, Syahril was clear that the team does not generate a steady income, and this is due to the fact that driving back and forth to deliver is a very laborious process, but it is not the most attractive job for your standard Malaysian.
In the end, it could be concluded that Vélo Express is a job best done by those who have a passion for cycling in the first place and who have other sources of income to maintain them.
Based on our interview with Syahril, the team does not seem to be chasing growth in terms of enlargement either. Instead, they focus on raising awareness of their brand, collaborating with multiple local brands and small businesses, and improving their facilities and customer service.
- You can find out more about Vélo Express here.
- You can read about several Malaysian startups we have covered here.
Featured image: Mior Syahril by Fast bike