In this fast-growing era of e-commerce, the demand for delivery services is higher than ever. Vendors like Lalamove, MrSpeedy, and GrabExpress are constantly increasing their fleets to keep up. In fact, Lalamove expanded to Penang and Johor recently in April.
But the demand for delivery services also means a higher carbon footprint, especially since these delivery services run on fuel-based vehicles like motorcycles, cars, or trucks.
This was where Jordi saw a gap in the delivery services market, and as a cycling enthusiast who wanted to monetize his hobby, he founded Vélo Express in 2016. However, Jordi is no longer with Vélo Express since he migrated.
Not your average delivery service fleet
Since its inception, Vélo Express gradually attracted the attention of many like Jordi himself, who were both passionate about cycling and wanted to earn a living from it.
Because bikes have their limitations, their services are currently only available in these areas:
|KL city center||Major KL|
They can cover up to 20 km in a delivery radius, and their price ranges from RM5 to RM25, depending on the distance traveled. This price is pretty standard compared to other delivery couriers like GrabExpress and Lalamove, but some people may find it more expensive as deliveries can take longer with bikes.
On average, Velo Express takes less than an hour to make a delivery, which is honestly not too long a wait unless you urgently need something done.
What they can deliver includes groceries, packages and documents, plus they can also handle printing, banking, and other errands.
Vélo Express does not have an application in which to reserve a rider, instead, you must call 03-41611766 to make a personal reservation. While this may seem like a less convenient method for accessibility, it makes sense because the team is still small and would likely be overloaded with requests if they had an app.
Bring your own bike
Since Jordi left Malaysia, Vélo Express has now been acquired by Syahril, who started as part-time. He was unhappy with his full-time job and decided to quit because someone needed to drive Vélo Express.
Today, Vélo Express has 2 administrators, 2 full-time cyclists (including Syahril) and 8 part-time cyclists. Anyone who wants to join the company must have their own bikes, and his team currently uses a combination of fixed gear bikes, road bikes, and cargo bikes.
Fixed gear bikes are the normal bikes you probably have around the house, road bikes have changeable gears and are suitable for long distance cycling, and cargo bikes are the ones that can carry heavy objects.
“We can carry anything up to 5 kg with our special messenger bag, our bike rack can also carry up to 5 kg and our cargo bike can carry up to 15 kg. The boxes in front of our bikes are called bike racks that help us carry extra things, ”Syahril explained to Vulcan Post.
Taking on challenges along the way
Sometimes the MRT or LRT is used to assist your delivery services for long distance travel, but the team will take on these additional charges without passing them on to customers.
“The heaviest thing I delivered was animal feed and sand that weighed 15 kg, which we delivered with our cargo bike. And the strangest thing we had to deliver was a big drawing board, ”Syahril recalled.
“I think there is no difficulty in delivering things, but a challenging delivery is when someone asks for a lot of things at the same time, which requires more than one courier.”
Riders with Vélo Express can earn from RM200 to RM1,000 per month, depending on how many jobs they do. Vélo Express also currently works with 6 collaboration partners (coffee roasters and local restaurants) whom they help deliver food and coffee beans. These collaborators will pay on demand, allowing the team to have immediate income when their services are needed.
During the pandemic, they requested their services between 5 and 10 times a month, which Syahril admitted is not that great compared to when they worked with law firms and offices. Now that those offices are practicing WFH, Velo Express had to find other segments to serve.
It is a job that really requires passion.
While its concept as a delivery service remains unique, in Malaysia it is unlikely to be easily scalable. After all, despite operating since 2016, its base of operations is still largely contained within the Klang Valley.
Also, there are no other players in this space that we can find, indicating that it is a difficult concept to achieve if you are looking for profit, and one that may not even be worth the effort.
There are multiple challenges the team faces each day, from battling misconceptions that a bike courier service is less reliable, to navigating dangerous KL roads thanks to poorly planned and maintained bike lanes.
If Vélo Express wanted to expand to other states, they would have to open small offices in those areas and hire more manpower, as team leaders, to oversee and grow operations there.
To add, Syahril was clear that the team does not earn a fixed income, and added to the fact that cycling to and from deliveries is a very laborious process, it is not the most attractive job for a standard Malaysian.
Ultimately, 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 have other sources of income to support them.
Based on our interview with Syahril, it also doesn’t appear that the team is pursuing growth in terms of expansion. Instead, they are focusing on increasing their brand awareness, collaborating with more local brands and small businesses, and improving their facilities and customer service.
- You can learn more about Vélo Express here.
- You can read about more Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Mior Syahril of Vélo Express