Moving to the United States when he was 18 years old
Creating the Lao keyboard for the iPhone and getting inundated with eMail
Fibbing to his mother about going back to work in Laos
Founding Laos’ first ride-hailing business even though people said they did not want it
The impact of COVID
Figuring out the right marketing model
Building an entire ecosystem around LOCA’s driver partners and their families
People Like to Think We Are Killing the Taxis
How Can I Make My Decision Right?
It Takes Time, Like a Mother Tongue
Sustainable Means Sustainable Income
I Registered Myself, and I Drive
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:00
The Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are happy to welcome Souliyo Vongdala, a co founder and CEO at LOCA. I love the name, by the way welcome to the show. Yes. Thank you so much for coming and doing this today. How are you?
Souliyo Vongdala 0:40
I’m really well, and thank you for the you’re not the only one that name in Spanish mean crazy. So. But but also it’s, it’s crazy to.
Michael Waitze 0:53
Yeah, it is kind of crazy to have a startup in Laos. Isn’t that true? No. I mean, anywhere.
Souliyo Vongdala 0:58
It is. It is it is like Lao is probably the last thing people would think about startup.
Michael Waitze 1:08
I wouldn’t sell it. I wouldn’t sell it that year. We can get to that in a second though. Can we do this? Can we get a little bit of your background for some context? And then we’ll jump into the main part of this conversation?
Souliyo Vongdala 1:19
Sure. Yeah. Yeah. So my name is Julio Mangala. I’m from Laos. I’m the co founder and CEO loca. And we studied loca in 2018. Not so long ago before the COVID. So we studied as the taxi services, not taxi services, but to compete with bad taxi services, okay, in in Laos, because people like to think like killing the taxi, but effects like we are killing bad taxi. So that’s when we started. So isn’t that
Michael Waitze 1:55
always true with the startup, right? And in the sense that if you’re building a platform, and we’ll get to what loca is in a bit as well. But if you’re building a platform in any vertical, the people that are operating in that vertical that are operating well, should really welcome you, right? Because it will eliminate a lot of the people that are operating poorly. No.
Souliyo Vongdala 2:14
Yes, that actually way of doing it. So when we started, we, like really could the existing taxi drivers like Laos really small? The total number of registered taxis only 250. Registered taxis. Wow. And, but the actual number is like 600 taxes. So you can think about that. And then we see the problem by the taxi service is so bad. So we say, Hey, taxi, registered taxi. If you think you’re good, we can help you to hear the bad taxi join us. But not all of them join us. So some of the 250 also that taxis? This is
Michael Waitze 2:56
but this is really interesting. So what you’re saying is there are 250 registered taxis. So whatever the registration or whatever the government does to license a taxi ride 250 people have gone through that process. But another 350 have said I don’t care, I’m just going to drive around in my car, pick up people and try to make money that way. And it’s neat, though, because what you’re doing is kind of augmenting what the licensing authority is doing, and saying join local. And if you do, we’ll vet you make sure you’re good. And then if you use local to get a taxi, or anything really in the mobility space, we can talk about that too, then you know that it’s going to be better than what you would do if you’re just hailing it on the street. Does that make sense?
Souliyo Vongdala 3:39
Yes, yes, of course. I mean, for us is our I don’t want to say this in the public. But our vetting process is even stricter than then the government and our our procedure monitoring is even better. Like, for example, the government don’t go out and check the alcohol level in the driver. We do. We learn from the checkout driver, like you know, like various when there is the festival, people like to train and also wanted to make the money. We bid on like that we send other people to take the car at the end of the trip. We just show them the credential, give them the alcohol test on their beds. And if they fall alcohol then they no longer work because got it. That’s one thing we can afford.
Michael Waitze 4:29
I remember one insurance Go ahead. You know, a
Souliyo Vongdala 4:33
taxi in Laos mostly don’t carry insurance. They only carry it when they apply for the license and after that they will not renew it.
Michael Waitze 4:41
Wait a second, though. But then what happens if a taxi driver gets into an accident and somebody in the car is injured? Do you help them get insurance as well?
Souliyo Vongdala 4:49
Yeah, we do. We do help them get insurance. We also have the insurance that they can pay the trip if they don’t want to buy insurance. We work with the insurance company that every trip cover the same. We cover a lot more than the regular insurance.
Michael Waitze 5:06
So who do you use as your underwriter to cover that insurance? Who’s your partner for that?
Souliyo Vongdala 5:11
A partner is the punks on insurance or they call themselves APA.
Michael Waitze 5:20
Okay, and is that? Is that a louse based insurance company?
Souliyo Vongdala 5:24
Yes. It’s a Lao based insurance company.
Michael Waitze 5:27
Lao based insurance company. I want to back up a little bit, right. You’re from Laos. You were born there. You’re saying? Yeah, yeah.
Souliyo Vongdala 5:34
But have you been here?
Michael Waitze 5:36
Have you lived outside the country? Have you gone to school overseas? And if you did, like, where did you go? What did you do? When did you come back? And why?
Souliyo Vongdala 5:46
I moved to the US when I was 17. Like, 2009. Okay. No, 18 2009 I really moved there, like forever, like for good, never gonna come back. Because my, my mom is in the US. And she petitioned me and my siblings to get a green card to just move that for good. Not not not to live in Laos anymore. But then, I when I was there, I studied in school, struggling a lot. And I worked as a freelancer. For Google, basically, as a contractor, translating all the products into Laos, wow. Gmail, Google Drive, everything pretty much even April Fool’s days. I know in advance, what are they going to be joking about? That is the bad part. Even Android? And I start to think, Wow, this guy’s you know, like, they don’t even need Lau it or why are they spend so much money trying to building something like this Fallout people, like only seven, 7 million people. And they don’t even they don’t even care to use your products. I mean, like, how many people use your products, right. But they did it anyway. But then I start to write a blog about technologies on my websites in 2009, like SULI yo.com, basically, but I didn’t update it much recently. I wrote Brock’s and I start to learn that. Wow, technology technologies actually changing people’s life. I mean, I start to, but I didn’t, I didn’t realize that I wanted to business. And I just want to be writers at the time. So I keep doing that. Until 2000. That hit me in 2014. In love, we have iPhone right now by phone. But to be honest, now people cannot tie language on iPhone.
Michael Waitze 7:56
Why? Because there’s no there’s no specific keyboard that’s built just for the LAO language.
Souliyo Vongdala 8:04
Exactly. There’s no now keyboard inside the iOS operation. So but luckily, in 2014, Apple opened the API for the developer to build it. I remember so that I did. Wait, wait. I did the Yeah. Wait a
Michael Waitze 8:24
second. So in 2014, you said Apple open the API to the to the keyboard wasn’t that long ago? I remember when they did it, right. Because everybody wanted the swipe keyboards and stuff like that. But you’re saying when they did that? You did you write the technology that use the API to then create a keyboard that people in Laos could use?
Souliyo Vongdala 8:44
Exactly. I build the first loud keyboard on iPhone errors in objective people can doubt. Yeah, and people can download it and use it like normal keyboard. But in the past, before me, there’s people trying before they open the API, they create a separate app, you tie on separate app, and then you copy and then you press on the WhatsApp, imagine you are chatting with your friend right have to do like switching to app. That’s terrible. And yeah, when I finished building that out, people keep telling me like, hey, let’s sell it, let’s sell it. Like, just sell it $1 is, you know, like 100,000 people downloaded Do you already get 100,000 US dollars? I was considering that. And I don’t know somehow I just keep it for free. Like I only spent two days on that. And they give it for free. And then a lot of public’s opinion is so good that they are so endorsed me. And they like it. They thanked me I never received that much of email. And that is where it hit me like wow, I mean, like I just spent two days doing this and it’s already big already. for a couple hours, you know, and then I start to consider, if I can do that I can do another thing, you know, like, what can I do? I start to think from there.
Michael Waitze 10:10
So isn’t this a really interesting thing about entrepreneurship in general? Like you can really think generalize here a little bit, I presume when you wrote that you were in the United States? Yes. Yes, yeah. So you’re sitting in the US, you know, you’re, you’ve listened to your mom, you’ve got your green card you’ve gotten and you’ve been educated in the United States, you notice that there’s no keyboard for it, Apple opens up the API, like I can do this thing. People start downloading it like crazy. And you must be thinking, like, I didn’t intend to do this. This was not meant to be my life. But then you get inspired. And you think, Wait a second. If I can do that, I can do anything in a way. No.
Souliyo Vongdala 10:49
Yeah, that’s how I, I can be like, I can do other things like this thing up something that I can do, you know, and I spent so much time thinking about it, but until 2015, and I co found my what my first startup errors, but it already failed. So congratulations. Within one year, it’s already fell. And it feels good. I build the app, similar to Yelp, you know, like you find the location. And but it’s funny thing is like I go to for tourists, right. And it’s for tourists, because tourists need to know where to go to ATM, gas station or restaurant. Right? Right. But the funny thing is, the app is written, it allows bankers only is a silly mistake that I always keep. Yeah, if the idea is great, but execution is so poorly, like, it doesn’t matter how great your technology is. I always I always do that to to my team is a good story to tell it is. And then, in 2016, I graduated from school, okay. At that time, I got a job offer already before I came back, and then my co founder with my first company that, that we feel, say, hey, let’s let’s try one more time.
Michael Waitze 12:27
Was Was he also loved.
Souliyo Vongdala 12:29
Yeah, he also allows, but he’s in Laos, but not also here. But we have like two co founders, and they say, Hey, let’s try one more time. Like it this time doesn’t work, then we can’t forget, you know, like, me never do business again. But I only got a job offer, you know, like, working with the company, but it took me two weeks, and I keep making a call with them. And we have the annual investor that willing to put 10,000 into the company. If I want to come back, I made like 10,000 really? My job offer is like 80,000 It was like, I was like, what did your mom know, I actually lied to my mom, of course, when when they come back. So what do you say I got student loan, I got student loan 30,000 When I graduated, and I told my mom that I’m gonna go back to Laos, building my business. And I say with huge, but just to make she feel good. And he said how you’re going to pay off your student loan. I mean, like, you know, I have times, so student loan is 10 year, 20 years. And then I came back. So I came back and the first six months I keep saying, Did I make the right decision? Do they separate the system? It might my first company in 2016 is actually a digital marketing company where we help people to do digital marketing on Facebook, because Facebook is so popular but people don’t utilize it. We are one of the first company doing that. Nice. And when the first fun and I switched my, my perspective, instead of asking myself like, did I made the right decision? I changed my perspective to say, how do I make my decision? Right? So that’s different,
Michael Waitze 14:30
right? Very different, but I love it. Go ahead.
Souliyo Vongdala 14:33
Yeah, so I say okay, from now on. I’m just gonna keep asking myself like how can I make my decision? Right? So that’s how I start to go out during the networks and I get to meet a lot of people possible people invited me ago. People invited me to Malaysia and asked me to pay my own hotel, add my own flight ago, right? I go You were like, no rejection, like, even I don’t know you are awkward. So that’s I start to learn like, Okay, in this Smith is not like you do it and then this says no, it takes time. It’s like a matter of time, you know, like you run like a really long hours and then at the end then you see the life. Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 15:23
So when did you start when did you start loca
Souliyo Vongdala 15:28
loca is also the accident I went to Vietnam, right I was in the startup was in 2016, after the first six months I went to Vietnam to the startup, even color has fair, and I just come I just complain on Facebook like in Vietnam to be happy crap and Uber at the time, they have both. It allows you don’t have like, at the time, every country in the ASEAN country already have grabbed or either Uber or maybe both, right, except LAO and Brunei. And why not Laos? I asked like, why not Laos, and I came back from Vietnam at that time I build a study the survey, sent it out to the people. And more than 90% said, No, we don’t want this type of service. Why? And because I asked the wrong people. So I put the project into the closet, so I can so that I say I’m not doing that. Because nobody uses using want to use it. And and then we start to build the startup community. And even we invite people from Vietnam, from Malaysia, or even from Microsoft from visa to try out even every time I hear this. I’ve been here, I don’t know where to go. I don’t know how to go. There is no crap or Ubers. I was like, okay, maybe I asked the wrong person. Right. And because it allows you are not going to believe in venture capital, there are more than 1 million vehicle register in venture capital,
Michael Waitze 17:19
which is weird. Because there are a million people 900,000 Yeah, 900,000. Yeah.
Souliyo Vongdala 17:25
Yeah. Right. They are more weaker than then the people. That’s why they don’t want to use my service. And but the people that travel to Laos way, and they did it, and then I start to build a model a little bit. And then I’ve been to the program in Australia. At the time, I went to Australia in the programs called the emerging emerging rater, ASEAN, Australia, something I don’t remember, sorry, people in the program. I pitched my idea of kind of Super App vision, also including the taxi because I tried to make it feasible, right? The taxi alone isn’t big enough. If especially be tech at the tourists, I tried to build the the Super App. And then one of the charts hit me like, I went to Lao before, why don’t you just start with, you know, building a better taxi first, and then you grow from there. And after that program, I came back to Laos, I start to draw out everything. And I present to the board of my first company, or the shareholder that I need some more investment from existing company to do this projects, and they keep turning it down. The thing is, yeah, they keep telling the Dallas six times. At the end, I read like, this time I’m not requesting, if you don’t do it, I’ll go off do it alone with somebody else.
Michael Waitze 18:55
Who are your investors, I don’t need their names, but just like what types of people or what types of organizations where your investors and why did they say no,
Souliyo Vongdala 19:03
it’s more like an angel. It’s not just the investor, but also my co founder also, they think is more and you know, like, the data is not convincing, you know? And the market is small. People even say, Hey, you can serve the tourists. But your driver cannot even speak English people can speak English, they will not they are not going to drive for you. I mean, the way that I respond, that is back in 2016. I’ve been to Singapore. The guy that picked me up at the airport is that he can even speak. Right? I mean, if that guy can serve me bring me from the airport to the hotel with no friction. Right? Then then as a person that if you can only say hello is only the good enough.
Michael Waitze 19:54
Yes, there are translation apps everywhere. I mean, I take taxis here every day. Using grab, because it’s my only choice. And none of the taxi drivers are very few of them speak English, which is fine. That’s not my that’s not their problem. It’s my problem. But I’ve never had a problem in in a grab with getting to a place never, never,
Souliyo Vongdala 20:15
never, never. And that’s why I convinced them that if there is no money coming in, then it’s going to be out of my pocket, or I’ll do it somebody else. And then they say, Okay, let’s try. Let’s try. When we studies. It’s been funny, like, when we done with everything’s, that’s exactly right. Nobody applied to play for us. Yeah. And I, I have to try. So I register myself. So I try. I press online and waiting for somebody to to request the rights and nobody, nobody requests the rights. And then I’ll just send coupon to one of my NGO investor, can you use the service? And then he said, Yes, I can do your service. And then basically see call and then it hit me right. So we keep doing that for like, couple of days. And then we start to see new people, right? Oh, actually, new people are actually like, requested, we can start to see new faces. And then we start to recruit more people using new strategies. And it start to work from there.
Michael Waitze 21:29
That’s unbelievable. Yeah.
Souliyo Vongdala 21:32
I dropped like 700 Something trip? On my first year with LOCA?
Michael Waitze 21:39
That’s the greatest part of the story. No. And what was it like when you started getting traction? And I hate that word. But you know what I mean, when you started when people started using this service, what was the response you were getting from your co founder, you know, from the investors who said, like, this will never work kind of thing.
Souliyo Vongdala 21:57
No, they still think it will never work. So because we keep burning money. They just keep asking when is the limit. But I say that will be the limit, but it’s not sticking at right. So the driver, the driver is not believing in it. We actually say hey, if you drive with us, we make sure you make this much money. If you don’t, we’re gonna put extra money to make you make that much money on that. So we just talented a driver, you can make enough money each month to feed your family. So that’s why they they came and they drive with us. Those.
Michael Waitze 22:37
What is that? Do you think that people because I looked at the GDP per capita balances, right. And GDP per capita in Laos is not that different, frankly, than it is in Vietnam, and probably in the Philippines. What do they need? Like? What did you have to guarantee them on a monthly basis for them to say, Okay, I’ll drive with loca.
Souliyo Vongdala 22:58
So the national median income in Laos is $450 a year we guarantee Yeah, no, I’m sorry. Go ahead. Median. Yeah, but the gap is really high. Yeah, the minimum wage is 1.5 million, like $150. So we can see them the median income at $450. That’s a lot. That’s a lot like bank manager, like bank teller don’t even make that much
Michael Waitze 23:23
money. But it’s also three times minimum wage.
Souliyo Vongdala 23:26
Exactly. Exactly. They deserve even.
Michael Waitze 23:30
They don’t deserve it on this thing. It’s a huge risk. And I love the fact that you took that risk actually, right? Because,
Souliyo Vongdala 23:36
no, because when we build when we build loca, we learned from Uber, like, you know, we want to make it sustainable from the from the beginning, right? We don’t want to, to to like, put the money there for you to make your drive for us and then take it away from us. No, we either make you make the same amount of money, or make you make more money. Right. And dva never failed them.
Michael Waitze 24:01
Did you add on services after that? In other words, did you allow not allow but did you enable the drivers to then do food delivery and stuff like that? And is there a motorcycle taxi system? In VNTR?
Souliyo Vongdala 24:14
Yeah, yeah, we start up that and model by taxi and it fell. And then we started again. Last year, okay. Delivery Service, also country to make an extra income. But actually, the thing is, like, right now, more than 50% of our drivers earn more than national median income, like $600 or above. And
Michael Waitze 24:40
awesome, that must feel great now.
Souliyo Vongdala 24:43
Yeah, because we want to build this as sustainable sustainable means sustainable income. Right? If the driver if the driver cannot feed their family, like, like, it’s not it’s yeah, what’s the point of doing it? Because I learned the taxi from Thailand, you know, the taxi company. Then they have to rent the car from the whoever owns the taxi. And then every day they just spend the money on the left over after the rent, right? Really, really tiny amount. Every time I go to Thailand, I go to Thailand a lot. Every time I go to Thailand to taxi just to ask them how he’s still alive. I never get a single time that they feel like their life is good as a driver as a taxi.
Michael Waitze 25:27
Taxis are too cheap. Think about this. The taxi is sometimes less expensive than taking public transportation. Yeah. I have a two people in a taxi. It’s cheaper than taking the BTS. Yeah. Yeah, that’s that’s the that models upside down? I think. Right?
Souliyo Vongdala 25:45
Yeah. That’s how I want to be my my models beyond to fit that if people want to drive for taxi, I want people to be like coin as a job. You know, like, as a full time job proudly say that I drive for loca, I feed my family, my driving follow. I want that. That’s how we want to build.
Michael Waitze 26:04
So if you look at a company in Vietnam called Low ship, right, one of the things that low ship did or tried to do, and we had the founder of one of my other shows, is he created this company sort of culture where the people that work there are super proud. So they wear like a uniform and a jacket or a hat or something. They feel super proud about it. Right? They’re riding around on motorcycles, and in cars doing delivery, and they’re proud. Right, and you can give the same thing to your drivers as well, because they’re making more money than the median, which is awesome. And they should be super proud to work for logo. No.
Souliyo Vongdala 26:37
Yeah, I mean, you know what, what, what the funny thing is that we when people making that much money, they feel like this is the bowl of rice. Yeah. When they see bad driver, that driver loca and then they behave badly. They help us monitor and report to us. Right? Because they don’t want people to manage the ecosystem. Because if they are more bad driver, that’s mean bad surveyed people left. Customer left local is when customer left them.
Michael Waitze 27:09
Yeah, it reflects badly on them. Right.
Souliyo Vongdala 27:12
Yeah. So they try to protect local also. That’s that’s the trick. That’s the community that we have. Our drive will also protect local. That’s, that’s something that we will be proud about drivers.
Michael Waitze 27:25
What? What kind of impact did COVID have on you? I’m really curious, because because there’s this idea, right? That at the beginning of COVID, it was really extreme right? People were super nervous. Nobody wanted to die. Nobody wanted to get sick. And then it dissipated a little bit. And then it went back to being really scary. So like, what were the stages here? What was the impact over time?
Souliyo Vongdala 27:47
I was crying when? When the country for lockdown? Yeah. Why I was crying because 96% of our customer, tourists. Yeah. Read 96% AD AD 4%, which is the outside before they even come to us.
Michael Waitze 28:06
Right? So they’re at an airport somewhere. And they’re going oh, wait, I need to have this and they just download the app. Yeah,
Souliyo Vongdala 28:13
exactly. And I was crying in a country locked down. And I thought it’s going to be only three months, I was going to announce that to the driver is going to be three months. If you suffer from any loan, we will help you to cover these three months. But before we did that, I certainly do. So if you’re not COVID, prove it come back again. Let’s say some COVID Let’s say is another disease. Yeah, we die anyway. We cannot keep doing that. Right? We ship it the strategy instead of three months. The lockdown is only one month. Thank thank God is only one month, but then the country is locked down. We don’t allow tourists to come right. But the people inside can travel freely. Right. But we don’t have we don’t have the local customer. Right. Like I told you at the beginning nihilists that over 90% don’t want to use our service. We have to change the strategy and allows people they like to drink and why dialog. accident involves dead people 50% extra. So we use this as a strategy. And we also use stability for the young adults, right? parents own the car. Ad most of the time. This young teenager would drive the car to hang out with their friends drink alcohol, and then causes accident to the parents. So we advertise to their parents. So don’t let your children drive at night. Right? If they want to go out to different tempo, use a service. It makes it really read. I really like it really weird. Even people like You know, when they want to sneak out from their house, I mean, every every teenager did like even me, I sneak up the opera house right to go out with my friend at night, right? If you take motorcycle or the car, your pal and you would know when you start the engine they would learn after you. But then it you sneak out at the backdoor and then call Olga and then get them to look at your parents do not know they already went to sleep. That is how we advertise. And it work. It will be between four months. We hit the all time high without tourists. Wow. It works. It really works. And then people that young teenager, they they don’t have car when they want to go out at night, they would put together three to three people share our car. To to enjoy the nightlife. That’s how he ever changes. That’s how Yeah, that’s that’s how we advertise it. And then especially women, they afraid of taking a ride with with other people we just advertise is safe. We have insurance, our insurance, how up to 50,000 US dollar per trip, you know, and our driver expenses, we are not only with our driver, we read the entire family that they are living.
Michael Waitze 31:20
Can you talk about that a little bit? You said you vet the entire family? What is that? What is that? Like? And why do you do that?
Souliyo Vongdala 31:29
No, it’s not me with it. Every single member of the family. We have the fam we have the family books, right for for the house. If you if you have the house, and you have people in your house, your family books, when we read your family books, we would know right? How many people in your house you have why you have children, then these kinds of people are unlikely to cause any harm. Right? Because you have house and you own a car. That’s mean you you already have something good for you, you are not going to risk something of your life to do something bad. Yes to make extra money. But this right,
Michael Waitze 32:08
yeah, this is the point I wanted to make to people, though that might not understand it right is that, you know, if somebody in your family does something that’s harmful, it harms the whole family. And this is the this is the great Asian pressure, right? And that is that people won’t do silly things, even if it doesn’t benefit them, because they’re afraid of the impact that it has on the family. I just want people to understand this. Yeah. And that’s really powerful.
Souliyo Vongdala 32:32
Yeah. And for people that have like, you know, father, my father, they’re still lipid matter. And only through a member in the family, then we don’t look at them, but we monitor them close. Over time. If they behave. If they if they pass our probation, then we stop monitoring monitoring that person. So that’s mean, he is permanent. trustable
Michael Waitze 32:58
Yeah. So in Thailand, right. One of the things that happens, and maybe this is equivalent is that if a guy wants to be a motorcycle taxi driver, his whole family will pull the money to buy the motorcycle, right? Because it’s going to benefit the whole family. And this is why theft is so low, right? Because even if that guy is delivering an iPhone, which is, you know, $1,000 or $2,000 depending on which iPhone you buy, the guy has no incentive to steal it because his whole family will be not just embarrassed but impacted. Yeah.
Souliyo Vongdala 33:32
Yeah, exactly. I love exactly that. That’s why in in 2019 we have lost and foul like 260 Something cases, and almost 100% Get into the chain. Like wallet, bags, small item accessory, phone, you know, like a lot a lot of puppets. Get the turn. Yeah. And even like one case is like, she forgot her make up an accessory back at the airport. And then she already departed the airport. Right? And then instead, we have to mail it to ya, yeah, we mail it to England, you know,
Michael Waitze 34:17
but tell me you don’t love doing that.
Souliyo Vongdala 34:20
No, no, we love doing it. Like our team is like it cost us like $120 to mail it to her. I mean, like, just do it. I mean, like,
Michael Waitze 34:28
but it makes you so happy, right? Yeah. Because Because here’s the thing for me, right? Like it’s $120, which is way more than she probably paid for the taxi. But you cannot underestimate how important it is to have that happiness for that customer even in London or in England or wherever she is right? Because from then on that woman tells this story about trust. And that never goes away. Right? Because she always think like, oh, I can trust that entire country. sent my bag back
Souliyo Vongdala 35:03
yeah that’s how we want to set the tone for our service. Exactly. Because when you go to any live you about Laos about transportation we are built below one star to be honest if if it befall Oka like eat the transportation leave you five star on any page. And if you get people to leave the delivery with you will see one star or even half star. That’s why we want to change it like you have option. Yes, we know we are bad. But here is the better option. But we are not trying to kill them. Like I said, Only bad taxi that die. Good taxi join us. We haven’t heard from her. But we sell it to her. And because we thought that is much the important to her. That’s why she contacted eBay is that important, then she would just say as just let it go. But she actually contact that. But anyway, because of that. People start to think like if we have to be on the news, right about getting because we see like taxi in Lao return wallet, you know, sometimes on the news, and then people keep asking me like, doo doo doo look at return if the customer forget the wallet in the car. I mean, okay, last year 260 Something cases, EB would be on the new we will be on the news every day, right? Like 365 days a year. So almost every day, right? And maybe not on the news, because the system is so good. And you don’t even need to call, you know, you just like, press the stick. Yeah, you press the ticket loss and foul. It will be on there urgently. So our support team would take it first. From there.
Michael Waitze 36:58
What a great thing. What’s um, what’s next? Like? Do you start to build or have you already started to build the Super App? It sounds like you’ve nailed the taxi part of this.
Souliyo Vongdala 37:07
Yeah, we wouldn’t call this super app, we would call it a super mobility app. That’s our vision is Go ahead. We come with our Super Mobility app is like we want to be every time people move. Or you want to move something you don’t move you move something is going to be on us. So we want to be there for you for any reason, right? First is taxi. Of course you need it when you want to move and long distance like bus. Now you can book a bus ticket and you can buy grocery we just say changing our system is going to be picked up soon. You can buy insurance with us right now. Customizable, the first ever insurance to be able to customize your login button I believe allow is that when you want to buy insurance, you cannot customize it you want the packet be you want one hmm, impacted B you have to take everything in impacted me. Which is annoying, right? Sometimes you don’t need you don’t need anything else in the packet B and why would I need it you know just taking more money from from my pocket. So we let people customize the insurance for car insurance, health insurance that fit your need. And we build the striped dress soon we will build the period transit to evey our goal is to be net zero mobility solution. So we are now in the process of are you believing that
Michael Waitze 38:40
on your own cars as well? Are you just encouraging people to buy them?
Souliyo Vongdala 38:44
So because for the driver to switch to evey, it’s really expensive for them. Some of our drivers don’t have the existing loan on their s6 existing car. We see that they spin about if they make 1200 They will spend $600 on gasoline, like 50% Yeah, that’s quite high gasoline in largest, the second most expensive Barrow Singapore. In ASEAN. Yeah, go ahead. And we every part in the car is imported and most expensive. So we learn the physical study with BYD in October last year to see if it’s feasible to do the EB for our taxi. And it turned out to be really, really feasible. And that’s why I start to be DC chatting network right now. And try to switch our driver into the Eevee by helping them financing their car. So we can help them financing the second car with the low down payment. And then they pay the big payment later at the end of the term for because at By that time that first car would what would already pay it off? Right? They would have any major, major payment, except the Eevee. They can be asset over time.
Michael Waitze 40:11
That’s so great. It’s such a great idea. Okay, can I ask you one last? Because that’s how we want to view? Yeah. Can I ask you one last question before I let you go? Does your mom know what you’re doing now?
Souliyo Vongdala 40:28
Yeah, she’s, she didn’t know exactly what I do. But she start to understand what I tried to do. You know, even my wife, my entire family in Laos, also. Nobody understand what what are you trying to do? Like even my first company? The funny thing is my first company when I do it, I came back from the United State graduate with a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. I’m supposed to work for the big power company, right. At that time, I was not married that and then my, my my my girlfriend at the time, my girlfriend at the time. Bye, bye. Asked me. Which company you want to work on? I’ll put you in. I mean, like, no. It’s not my own company. Yeah. What do you what did you get to do? And that’s my first company. Nobody understand it. But now didn’t they understand that like, local company, they don’t understand it until last year. So until last year, they understand what we are doing. And my mom she’s still don’t know exactly what I’m doing. But she doing what I’m doing is great because her friends, it’ll save souls. So density, okay, good. Because like, any time I’m on the news, her friends in Lao will send her the message, Hey, your son is underneath again. You know, doing good things, you know, but that’s us. You know, that’s obviously no, that’s why I say like, your son is doing a good thing. So that’s why I said it’s doing a good thing. But I don’t know. What is you doing?
Michael Waitze 42:15
That is awesome. We’ll have to send your mother a copy of this podcast when it publishes. Yeah. Okay, Souliyo, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it. Souliyo Vongdala, a co founder and CEO of LOCA. That was a killer story.
Souliyo Vongdala 42:33
Sure, I hope so. I hope I hope other people that share the same similar situation as me. I mean, like, it’s kind of fun. Like that changed the perspective a little bit. The journey will be even fun.
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