Lalamove founder invests HK$30m won in gambling over 8 years and turns his company into a US$1 billion tech giant

    Lalamove founder Chow Shing-yuk.

    27th January 2023 – (Hong Kong) Lalamove is a Hong Kong-based technology company that provides delivery services by connecting users with delivery drivers on its mobile and web apps. The company operates in cities across Asia and Latin America connecting over 7 million users with more than 700,000 delivery drivers. Lalamove services are currently available in Hong KongTaipeiSingaporeKuala LumpurManilaCebuBangkokPattayaHo Chi Minh CityHanoiJakartaDhakaSão PauloRio de Janeiro and Mexico City. Lalamove expanded their services in India in 2018 but it was banned later by Indian government in 2020 during the series of Chinese app bans in India.

    The company was founded in Hong Kong in December 2013 by Chow Shing-yuk. Originally called Easyvan, the company was renamed Lalamove in 2014. The company quickly expanded to new markets reaching Singapore in 2014 and Bangkok and Taipei in 2015. By 2018 Lalamove was present in 11 cities across Southeast Asia and also commenced operations in India.

    Chow’s grades in high school were mediocre, but somehow miraculously scored 10As in the HKCEE and became one of the performers in 1995. His stellar results also helped him successfully obtain a scholarship to study in the United States. He initially took up physics but decided to switch to economics a year later because he felt that the science subject was boring. He was admitted to the economics department of Stanford University and graduated with honours (Distinction). After graduation, he was hired by Bain & Company and his annual salary exceeded HK$1 million. After working in a consulting company for 3 years, he resolutely resigned and became a professional gambler. In fact, Chow fell in love with Texas Hold’em poker during his employment, and finally became a professional player. After resigning from his job, he played for 8 years.

    He started to turn professional after playing for 5 years and he could play 8 games simultaneously during the online gambling game, and he finally went to Macao to compete, making more than 100,000 Hong Kong dollars a month. In the end, with his extraordinary talent and skills, he won a total of HK$30 million in these 8 years. After winning a large sum of money to achieve financial freedom, the next step for most people is to enjoy life as a matter of course. But Chow, who wanted to challenge himself, chose to start a new journey again. He once said that playing cards and winning money did not arouse his interest, and he wanted to do something more meaningful. So he returned to Hong Kong with the HK$30 million won in 2009, bought more than ten properties when the market was weak before selling all of them under his name in 2013, and invested the money he earned in what he described as “the biggest gamble in life i.e. Lalamove which was previously known as “EasyVan”.

    During the start-up phase, due to lack of experience, Chow repeatedly encountered difficulties in the field of information technology. Problems such as insufficient programming skills and lack of working capital emerged successively. It took him almost two months to complete the application, and the operation was fortunately supported by other investors. In order to attract drivers, he took a fancy to the fact that most of the truck drivers were men, so he arranged for female employees to promote the platform to the drivers and let them download and join his platform. The “monthly fee model” was also created for the first time. The company would not draw commissions based on orders. Drivers only have to pay a monthly fee. A large number of drivers were attracted to join, so “EasyVan” developed rapidly and penetrated the ainland and the Southeast Asian market. It then changed its name to “Lalamove” (“Huolala” in the Mainland). Chow hopes that “Lalamove” will be like “Starbucks”. When people think of coffee, they will think of “Starbucks”, and when they think of “delivery”, they will think of “Lalamove”.

    In 2019, Lalamove raised US$300 million in a series D round of funding.

    In March 2020, Lalamove made its first strategic investment by participating in a pre-series B funding round for logistics company Inteluck.

    In the same year, Lalamove extended its network to cover more small Chinese cities after raising US$515 million in Series E funding, the on-demand logistics company announced on its site. The round was led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Hillhouse Capital and Shunwei Capital. All three are returning investors.

    According to Crunchbase data, this brings Lalamove’s total raised so far to about US$976.5 million. The company’s last funding announcement was in February 2019, when it hit unicorn status with a Series D of US$300 million.

    During the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, Lalamove launched its Deliver Care CSR initiative to provide free delivery to NGOs. The CSR initiative helped deliver over 200,000 essential items including face masks, hand sanitiser, personal protection equipment and hot meals to frontline medical works and underprivileged families. In total more than 86,000 beneficiaries were reached. Lalamove also partnered with Quezon City local government to launch the LalaJeep, a new delivery type on the Lalamove app, to help jeepney drivers who were displaced from work due to the community quarantine.

    In January 2022, reports emerged that Lalamove, along with cargo delivery subsidiaries of DiDi and had been summoned by local transportation regulators in Shanghai, after a rising number of cases where drivers provide illegal freight services were noted to originate from the platforms. Lalamove was ordered to rectify these practices that the authorities described as “damage that stems from disorderly expansion”. In the same month, Lalamove had already been one of eight companies to be summoned by China’s Ministry of Transportation and warned about unclear pricing schemes, rising membership fees, unfair competition, and illegal transportation.