Future of transport

Indonesia’s Go-Jek plans experimentation as it expands fight with Grab in Southeast Asia

Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first billion-dollar tech start-up, will kick off its international foray with new operations in Vietnam and Thailand

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 8:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 8:40am

Indonesian on-demand services provider Go-Jek is looking to ratchet up the expansion of its operations in Southeast Asia with “a lot of experimentation”, while competing against Singapore-based rival Grab across the region.

That strategy was borne out of necessity because most of Go-Jek’s data comes from its home market of Indonesia, which is the region’s most populous country with 262.8 million inhabitants as of this month.

Despite the lack of broader customer data, Go-Jek expects about 50 to 60 per cent of the user behaviour information it has from Indonesia is likely to apply to other markets in the region, according to company chief technology officer Ajey Gore, who spoke on a panel at last week’s Techsauce Global Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Go-Jek announced on Monday that it will open offices in Vietnam and Thailand as part of the “first wave of its international expansion”. The Thailand and Vietnam business units will be run by local founding management teams, while Go-Jek in Indonesia will provide the expertise, investment and technology.

In Singapore, a preview of how Grab and Go-Jek is likely to face off across Southeast Asia

Go-Jek, which started as a motorcycle ride-hailing service in 2010, now offers everything from meal deliveries to massage and home cleaning, all on demand and available through a super app.

In Thailand, the company’s ride-hailing app will be operated under the name Get, while its Vietnam unit will launch a Go-Viet app.

Those two apps, however, will not be interoperable with the primary Go-Jek app, which means users need to download separate apps when using the service in different markets, according to a TechCrunch report. Grab users can call a car or taxi in any of the markets where it operates with one app. Go-Jek did not immediately respond to emailed inquiries.

Uber’s exit prompts Go-Jek to speed beyond Indonesia

Founded by Nadiem Makarim, a Harvard MBA and ex-McKinsey alumnus, Go-Jek’s planned foray into Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines in the next few months will extend its rivalry with Grab in the region.

Grab currently operates in 217 cities in eight countries and has an installed base of 100 million and more than three million drivers. Go-Jek, meanwhile, estimated it has 100 million monthly bookings across its suite of services, which includes services such as buying medicine and picking up prescriptions to getting a pedicure-manicure and facial at home.

A similar battle is being waged in China by the strategic investors of the two Southeast Asian companies. Meituan Dianping, which has morphed from a restaurant review and group-buying site to a provider of multiple on-demand services, is an investor in Go-Jek. Meituan on Monday filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Grab counts Didi Chuxing as an investor. Both firms share the distinction of prevailing over Uber Technologies in their respective home markets. Like Go-Jek, Grab is also expected to include third-party services on its platform as it aims to develop into an “everyday app” for consumers.

Amid the challenge posed by Grab, Gore likened the expansion initiative in Southeast Asia to Go-Jek’s rapid stage of development in 2015, the year when the company launched its mobile app and saw completed orders jump 900 times in a year and a half.

“There are some general things we have learned, and I think those will apply [to other markets],” Gore said.

Go-Jek currently uses machine learning technology to help deal with about 2.5 million users “at any point of time”, he said.

The firm also uses up to 300 data signals, including punctuality and driving speed, to match passengers with drivers. Each one is ranked and matched based on this system to maximise customer experience and lower driver cancellations, Gore said.

“There is so much more learning … for us to figure out what works and what does not work. We’ll do a lot of experimentation and see [how that turns out].”