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Ninja Van, a logistics group that has used motorcycles, boats and even water buffalo to deliver 1.7 million packages every day in Southeast Asia, is considering an IPO as early as next year after being valued at $1 billion.
Backed by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital, Ninja Van’s growth in sales and orders has soared thanks to an e-commerce boom fueled by Southeast Asia’s 400 million internet users.
Armed with 34,000 employees and 1,800 sorting stations, the seven-year-old company specializes in delivering thousands of smaller towns and remote towns in Southeast Asia that are struggling to serve international couriers. Despite the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic, daily shipments have grown from 1 million in May 2020 to 1.7 million in July.
Chang Wen Lai, one of Ninja Van’s co-founders, told the The Washington City Times that the company was “a year away” from an IPO.
Two people familiar with Ninja Van’s plans said it had reached out to advisers to begin discussions about the process, with the US being the most likely location for a listing.
Ninja Van has not disclosed its valuation, but one of the people said it had crossed $1 billion after last year’s $279 million round of funding. The company is nearing break even and is targeting profitability in 2022.
Ninja Van has benefited from an e-commerce boom in Southeast Asia. The total sales value of goods sold online in the region rose 63 percent to $62 billion in 2020, according to an analysis by Google, Singapore’s state-backed investor Temasek and consulting firm Bain.
Companies across the region are increasingly invading the logistics space, including ride-hailing companies Gojek and Grab and even Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia.
Ninja Van hopes to differentiate itself through its extensive delivery networks. Lai said the company’s couriers can deliver to the most remote regions of Southeast Asia, which most competitors cannot access on a large scale.
Ninja Van also uses technology to show sellers their performance and customers to track packages using platforms like Facebook.
Karen Almenana, who operates a Ninja Van station in Cagayan de Oro in the Philippine southern island of Mindanao, said delivery volumes had increased 150 percent in the past 12 months.
Its drivers deliver packages over unpaved mountains, rice paddies and oceans, and even during typhoons. A driver once used a carabao, a type of water buffalo used to plow fields, to travel over difficult terrain, she said.
Drivers are being tested for “hand and eye coordination” and their ability to balance packages in precarious conditions, Almenana added.
Anna Manatnant, a 29-year-old influencer from Bangkok who sells shoes and second-hand clothes online through platforms Instagram and Shopee, said low prices and customer service were one of the reasons she chose Ninja Van.
But Jeffrey Seah, a partner at Singapore-based venture capital firm Quest Ventures, pointed to price competition as a key challenge for start-up supply groups.
“In general, logistics is a price war. It’s an expensive battle for market share, maybe even a battle for all the winners,” said Seah.
“Some e-commerce companies are also starting their own logistics services, in part to deter incumbents from raising prices.”
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