How Grab Became The Super App Of Southeast Asia

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Growth Story is a weekly podcast that breaks down the strategy and tactics utilized by high growth companies, in a short case study format hosted by Scott D. Clary (@scottdclary)

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Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I'm your host, Scott D clary. The success story podcast is part of the hub spot podcast network. The hup spot podcast network has great podcast for business leaders, like the MARTEC podcast. Martych podcast is hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. Each week he tells stories of world class marketers who use technology to create lasting success with their business and their careers. If any of these topics are interesting to you, you're going to want to tune in. How Science is changing advertising, how to set up a cm so you actually use it, private equities take on digital transformation, or why big social is focused on newsletters. If these are topics that resonate with you, go listen to the MARTECH podcast. You can listen to it wherever you get your podcast or you can go to have spotcoms podcast network. Today is a startup case study. I'm going to break down the story of Grab, the company that surpassed Uber and Southeast Asia. It started as a ride sharing APP and now it does so much more, encompasses a ton of services. I'm going to walk through the origin story,...

...the founders, how they scaled up, focus on product led growth to encompass so many different offerings and some of the strategies they used to become a decacorn, or actually more than a decacorn, with an eleven billion dollar valuation. This is a startup case study. This is grabs growth story. In the last few years, southeast STAGIA has seen a rapid increase in ride sharing APPS. One of these companies is grab. If you want to go follow their story, you can go follow them on twitter at grab SG. This company saw an opportunity and took it by storm, quickly becoming one of the most successful startups in history. Grab even beat Uber as the top ride sharing APP and Southeast Asia and has gone beyond being a decacorn, meaning a company worth over ten billion dollars. This article will explore how they did it and what you can learn from their success story. So where did grab start? Well, grab started as a taxi booking APP called my taxi found it in...

Malaysia. It was found in two thousand and twelve by Anthony. Can even go follow him on twitter at Anthony Py underscore can and a computer science student, and his friend ten Hohoei link. You can go follow her on twitter at Whoi link can. The founders decided to expand into Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok with my taxi, and this later became grab taxi. In two thousand and fourteen, they decided to expand to the Philippines and Vietnam with their service known as grab bike. This became a massive success, since most of these countries had no official taxi services. Citizens relied on taxis or private cars for transportation. So in two thousand and fourteen they moved into grab bike. They started to expand more. In Two thousand and sixteen, the startup was later rebranded as just grab, so their ride sharing service was available in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. They had also expand into the food delivery market with grab food, a similar model to Uber eats that allowed...

...people to order meals from restaurants partnered with grab. To complete their service, grab also had a service where they could request somebody to come pick you up and drive your car home, known as grab car. This is almost like a designated driver service. So grab also had grab pay, which I added on later, which was supported in more than thirty different countries, making it easy for foreigners to pay bill. So now you see, they have grab bike, they have grab car, grab pay, they have all these different grab food, they have all these different APPS under one branch. They've turned themselves into a super APP, way beyond just a ride sharing APP that was already, in it of itself, more popular than Uber and Southeast Asia. But how did they actually build this mammoth organization? Is Incredible Company. Let's just speak about how far they actually got and then I'm going to break down how they did it. So grab has gone far since their early days in two thousand and twelve when it just started out as a taxi service. Today...

...it is the top, ahead of Uber, ahead of a lift, ahead of any other ride sharing APP, the top ride sharing APP in Southeast Asia, with millions of active users every day and various services such as again, food delivery, motorcycle taxis, all in one APP. In November six and two thousand and sixteen, they became Southeast Asia's first Unicorn start up. By twenty in history, keep in mind in history, by two thousand and seventeen, Grad became the top ride sharing APP in Southeast Asia with over one hundred million downloads worldwide and a valuation of over eleven billion dollars, making them the most start up, most valuable start up, out of all of Singapore. Now, how did they do this? How did they accomplish this incredible success story? How did grab beat Uber? How did they become the top ride sharing APP in Southeast Asia, and how did they even expand successfully into other services such as food delivery and motorcycle taxi rides? There are a lot of variables the made grab successful, so let's break each differentiator, each variable down...

...so that we have an idea of how they came to this point. So the first thing they did very well was go hyper local. This was core in their strategy. So this is what allowed them to be more successful than Uber. They focused on the local market. So they knew that if they were going to launch a product in a market, they had to focus on the cultural nuances. They couldn't just copy and paste. So when UBER EXPANDS INTO A new market, they usually just take the business model that's worked in one region, say California, and they take that business model and they implement it into you, a region in Southeast Asia. So this is not the best way to take a product to market in a certain region. Grab understood this and every single rollout was hyper local, hyper personalized, for lack of better term, to that region. So by personalizing the rollout, making sure they didn't just copy and paste to strategy, the marketing, how they position...

...themselves, how they on board a new customers and they didn't just copy paste that into every single place they went. They focused on optimizing each of those take to market pieces for that specific region. That's how they won. When you adopt the hyperlocal strategy, you can't just transplant the same strategy implemented and run one region or one country to another. Cultural Nuances, region, specific knowledge, these are all integral at maximizing the effectiveness of your take to market strategy and your growth strategy. Many companies copy and paste, grab does things that don't scale. Remember, when you're taking a hyperlocal strategy and you're taking that to a new region and you're understanding the cultural nuances of that particular place, you are doing something that doesn't scale. However, then you find a way to scale it. Eventually. You find a way to scale how you understand new regions, new cultures, new nuances, and you take that and that is hyperlocalization. That's how they really got a foothold in all these regions. They launched and beat out Uber. Secondly, they were a super APP...

...with all these features. They were all in one. They have grab, grab food, grab fresh, grab car, grab pay have many more upcoming projects. They are the go to APP, where users only have to use them for everything they could possibly need. So being able to deploy new features, that product led growth, that product focus, to quickly film needs in a new market allowed them to be a onestop shop, which definitely helped them with their product led growth strategy and ultimately increase the size of their Tam, or total addressable market, because they had all of these features. So they were hyper product focus. They rolled out new things that their customers were asking for. They were also accessible and convenient. So grab focuses on accessibility for its users. You can download the APP on your phone and start using it right away. This makes it easy for customers to access their services anytime they want with just a few clicks. When competing against Uber, Uber made a ton of assumptions in terms of accessibility and this accessibility also, and convenience also...

...ties into that hyperlocalization strategy. So what Uber did was they made assumptions in every market that they entered, that everybody uses smartphones and everybody pays with credit cards, and they copy and pasteed that strategy in every single region where Uber launched. Keep in mind grab, Uber did not accept cash until two thousand and fifteen grab realize, because again, they wanted to understand the nuances of that local culture or local region that they were going to launch into. The Not all drivers use smartphones, very few customers use credit cards where they had actually launched, meaning they were focusing on the actual habits of users in certain parts of the world, for example, like accepting cash from day one, which they did. Luber didn't do that. Always focused on being accessible and convenient for customers in the region, understanding the nuances of the region where they launched and being accessible and convenient for customers in that particular region. They also added in a reward system. Now, this is not the end all, but they did have various rewards that they gave out to their users. You could earn points by using grabs, your ride sharing service in Southeast Asia.

The points include the discounts on future rights or against other services they offered. This wasn't the the best, you know, strategy is going to make or break a company, but it didn't hurt and people do love rewards. So again, loyalty is always a great thing to include in your product. They focused on their company image. So grab is known to be an excellent company that treats their drivers right. They treat their employees right. There's been a lot of contention over how drivers are classified the benefits of drivers get. They always treated their drivers fairly regarding compensation and money they can earn every month, and a little driver and or employee appreciation really goes a long way. They also really focused on trust, and trust is paramount when building a relationship with your customers, and the lack of trust and transparency has always been a point of contention with various right sharing apps like Uber, because think about your Uber Experience Right if you're stuck in traffic, maybe you pay more because your ride takes longer. If there's a lack of available Uber cars drivers, then there's...

...a surge price. You have to pay more. If a driver takes a longer route and doesn't take you directly from point a to point B, you're going to pay a little bit more. This is not the case with grab, so price transparency, preset pricing make sure there are never surprises for customers and the pricing the set before the ride even starts. disincreases the trust in the brand, reduces any uncertainty felt by the customer and incentivises the driver to get the passenger from point a to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible because they're always going to be making that preset price. So there was no ambiguity but how much you were going to be paying when you use grab. That increased trust. It increased the likelihood of somebody feeling comfortable using graph for the first time. These are all things that they noted were lacking in other ride sharing services and they carry these over and they double down on them. So they made the consumer experience as frictionless as possible. And lastly, they focused on their own people. So we spoke about how they compensated drivers properly, but they went a step further. So when you look at the strategies...

...of several successful startups, one thing is clear. You have to focus on your people. That means they've always focus on their drivers and their passengers, and you can see this and just some of the things that I just spoke about. They focused on their passengers and their drivers, but how do you actually build that into the culture of your company? Well, for their passengers, they had support teams available seven every single day, three three hundred and sixty five to answer any questions issues that may arise, and they provided free training sessions for new drivers as well as opposed to potentially an uber driver that just is approved and starts driving day one. They also actively incorporated employee feedbacks that they know that they're doing the best possible job they can at serving their customers and their employees. Listening to your employees, incorporating feedback into your company culture, into your product development, into your customer success strategy. This is something that they always focused on. So they actually went on record at one point, their head of people unction Yin explain saying our grabbers are at the...

...forefront of solving some of the most significant challenges in this incredibly diverse region, from traffic congestion to income equality to financial inclusion. The entire executive team at grab has always focused on learning from the frontline individuals, from the frontline employees, and listening and actioning. So it is not just a top down organization it truly does value the feedback from the actual drivers and the employees. Grab identifies problems before they spiral a lot of control by listening to their employees. They implement solutions quickly. Realize full well the people who work in your business are very likely to have the most meaningful and useful insights that you can use to better serve your employees and your customers, and that's something that they built into their culture from day one. So what do we learn from grab? A couple lessons on, of course, how to hyperlocalize, take the market and growth strategy, how to better serve your employees and your customers and how...

...to make your product easier to use frictionless. And when you combine all of these things in the right conditions, you see what a startup like grab can do. It is now Southeast Asia's number one ride sharing APP. It has a ton of other services all under one roof that make it a true super APP. It didn't get it didn't start there. You know, Rome wasn't built in a day. It does take time to build up that complex a product. But if you focus on the right things, if you focus on serving your employees, your customers and the places where your customers live, in the regions that you want to serve properly effectively. You can get there. The main takeaway with all of this is start slow, do things that don't scale, do things the right way and you will eventually take your company to hopefully, we're grab is right now, and even if you achieve a fraction of the success that grabs achieved, I would say that's a big win.

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