We sat down with Alvin Ea, CEO of tech-enabled logistics platform Haulio to discuss Haulio’s growth and their plans for the future.
With a vision to connect all containers across Southeast Asia on their platform, Alvin sees Haulio as the Grab for container trucking.
“Grab pretty much changed the game and transformed the lives of millions of drivers. We are tackling a space that is more hidden.”
Transforming port logistics through technology, Haulio is the single largest trucking platform with backing from PSA International’s corporate venture arm, PSA unboXed. With their backing, Haulio is established in Singapore and Thailand, with plans to expand into the whole of Southeast Asia over the next few years.
With a total company size of about 45 with around half of them being in the Tech space, Haulio is looking to invest in offshore talent in the future to keep up with the company’s growth in Southeast Asia, a largely untapped market with huge potential.
From a logistics standpoint, Haulio stands apart from traditional logistics companies and, therefore, is looking for a different brand of talent. Competing with the likes of Ninjavan and other ecommerce companies, Haulio is working on their hiring philosophy.
“Do we hire people who have the relevant logistics experience? Or do we actually hire new people? We want to rethink how logistics should be done.”
Firmly distinguishing your company from the crowd is a challenge that almost all CEO’s charge themselves with. In the container logistics space, Haulio has secured lucrative backing from major logistics players on the premise that they are innovating in that space. The challenge, for Alvin, is defining their hiring philosophy.
“Flexport is one of the largest tech-enabled freight forwarding company in the world. They started out having to hire non-industry people to join the business. Similarly, in an article I came across recently, it was mentioned that key industry disruptors like Netflix and Airbnb recruited from outside the industry.”
The key hiring philosophy is this to hire based on their problem-solving mindset, be it product designers or developers – industry knowledge can be later acquired.
In fact, although Alvin came into Haulio very early in its development, Haulio was founded by Sebastian, who had no previous logistics industry experience. During an early pitch for Haulio, Alvin stressed how he thought the product would not succeed.
“There’s a quote from Einstein; ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’”
Recounting that quote, Alvin worked through his initial thoughts around the product and joined the team. Soon he would realise that the differences between him and Sebastian were exactly the thing that Haulio needed to truly distinguish it from the rest of the industry.
“After I said no to him, I couldn’t sleep the whole weekend because it triggered my thoughts to think that actually, this crazy guy could be right. I was too deep into the industry. His words got me thinking like, hey, maybe trucking should be done differently.”
Disrupting an industry that has remained largely unchanged for the best part of a century, the question is: How far should they take their hiring philosophy as they come up against industry stalwarts?
“If you’ve been doing the same thing for the past 20 years, if you’ve been told that this is the right way of doing things, and now, me and Sebastian come and tell you what we’re doing is not correct – it’s going to be difficult.”
Looking for the best of both worlds, Haulio are now looking for people who are keen to disrupt the industry and challenge the perception of what Container Logistics is.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to change not just the way they work, but also the way they structured themselves. Haulio, who went through a difficult wave of restructuring during the pandemic, were not aggressively hiring.
As one door was left firmly shut, another one opened as Haulio pursued off-shore and overseas options – arriving on a leaner structure that better suited them and allowed them to remain agile while closing off another round of funding.
Now, with more clarity and funding firmly secured, Haulio is back on the market for talent.
“My personal belief is that hiring is a journey. There are hits and misses – we just have to keep moving forward.”
If you’re interested in redefining the rules of Container Logistics and love a challenge, feel free to reach out to the team!
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