IT has been just five months since Gojek started operations in Singapore. We are excited to have launched our ride-hailing service here – just a year ago, even before we unveiled plans to foray into Singapore, it was clear that users were vexed by the lack of ride-hailing options and keenly awaiting a credible alternative in ride-hailing.
I’m proud to say that our entry has brought choice back for both riders and drivers alike, and positively disrupted the ride-hailing market in Singapore. Demand for rides on our platform has doubled since we started operations in November 2018 – and response from the driver community has been equally overwhelming, with tens of thousands of drivers having signed up and many new drivers coming on board our platform every day to make a living.
But this is only the start. Singapore is a marathon that we’ve just begun, a market to which we are committed for the long term.
A question I’ve been asked a lot lately is on Gojek’s strategy to be a Super App: Why have we not grown beyond ride-hailing and launched new services in Singapore? Of course, we think about how to expand and improve the lives of Singapore users, constantly; but first we want to deliver a good ride-hailing product.
As we grow the business in Singapore, we remain rooted to Gojek’s founding story of social purpose. We were founded on the simple promise to improve the lives of ojek drivers (motorcycle taxi-drivers) and social mobility in Indonesia, reflecting a desire to create social impact from the get-go. In Indonesia, Gojek is now a Super App which has partnered more than 1.7 million drivers and more than 300,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) including food merchants and service providers. Our impact is that we enable the long tail of merchants such as small roadside food stalls to go online and access a much larger market.
While different from Indonesia, Singapore is a unique and important market to Gojek. Highly-developed, it comprises users who are very acquainted with ride-hailing, are tech savvy, and have high standards. It has led us to constantly up our game as we build a product that meets those high expectations.
We want to create a best-in-class product for users here, and we have opted for a measured approach that allows us to steadily fine-tune our offering based on feedback from riders and driver-partners.
On the supply side, we will double-down on taking care of our driver-partners.
It’s a little-known fact, but I am a licensed private-hire driver myself. Once in a while, I turn on my Gojek driver app and hit the road, so I understand what our driver-partners go through.
Driving sounds easy and offers flexibility in one’s schedule, but it also comes with significant challenges. Delivering the passenger to an unknown destination safely is stressful enough, not to mention the unexpected flat tire, or having to deal with difficult customers. This is why a huge focus for us is taking care of our driver-partners. We believe that by taking care of our driver-partners’ needs, they will in turn take great care of our customers.
Recently, we held our first driver townhall where we invited more than a hundred driver-partners to recap Gojek’s journey in Singapore and get their feedback on how we could improve. We also shared GoalBetter, our initiative to offer benefits to our driver-partners that is built on four pillars: better earnings stability, better protection, better flexibility and better experience. While gig economy workers crave flexibility, they also want the same things that all employees desire, including earnings stability and peace of mind. GoalBetter is designed to provide all of these. To date, our benefits include prolonged medical leave insurance, telehealth services, fuel rebates and mobile data savings.
Partnering with local and innovative companies is another focus of Gojek to expand our offerings and provide more for our riders and driver-partners. We collaborate with Carousell to offer ride-hailing perks to customers, and have partnerships with Singtel, Doctor Anywhere, GigaCover, Esso and DBS Bank. Leveraging our large technology team in Singapore, we work with KPMG and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) on cybersecurity solutions. With our talent in Singapore, our teams also tackle complex technological challenges across South-east Asia at scale.
This speaks to our outlook on competition. Competition keeps everyone honest and compels all players to continuously innovate and do better for users. I truly believe that Gojek’s entry into Singapore has spurred innovation and led to greater benefits for both riders and drivers.
I am an avid runner, and I liken Gojek’s journey in Singapore to a marathon: A massive, rewarding pursuit with a clear direction and strategy, but which also requires the ability to innovate and quickly cater to the evolving needs of the market. Gojek is here to stay and we are determined to prevail in this marathon.
- The writer is the general manager of Gojek Singapore.