Disruptr: Ash Najwan, Founder and CEO of WeHantar
Share with us on what you do and what inspired you to start the business.
- I always had an itch towards entrepreneurship, and always had the chance to explore business since I was a young age.
- Additionally, I have always been interested in the economics of things, people/culture and trade, in which that has always been my main key focus areas. I knew there was still a lot to learn, and so I pursued a higher education degree in economics with a focus in CSCL (“cultural studies and comparative literature”) in US.
- However, while studying, I realised that there was an issue of trade especially amongst students and small/aspiring businesses to transport goods between the US and Malaysia. Like many students including myself, we couldn’t find a way to transport our dormitory furniture back home after graduating, or ship our items which are limited to the weight limit that the airlines imposed in our checked baggages.
- Additionally, it was also difficult for me to send small gifts to my family and friends or back home since the typical shipping fees from the US can set me back few hundred dollars or thousand of ringgits, and as a student on a tight budget, this was too costly. I knew from that point; a business solution is needed.
- Right after graduating university, I immediately kickstarted my corporate journey and was working at a local regional bank for 2 years whilst focusing on consumer investment products.
- During COVID-19, we witnessed that millions of foreign workers, international students and businesses were hit by the impact of border closure, and affected the ability to connect to their loved ones and foreign customers. Many were not able to export nor import products during this period, which we all witnessed that has impacted the livelihood of those affected.
- Having witnessed the similarities of my own troubles back in university, and those during COVID-19, I knew at that time kickstarting WeHantar was the right choice.
- With WeHantar, I aspire to contribute to the advancement, collaboration and increasing the people-to-people/business-to-business relationship in a more connected ASEAN. Bridging small businesses, students, aspiring entrepreneurs, families and friends across ASEAN.
What has the journey been like?
- In a word, tiring, however fulfilling. Having to learn logistics from scratch while executing and planning has not been an easy ride, however the results that team WeHantar has gotten has made it very much worthwhile.
Biggest achievement and what is one regret that you wish you had or had not done?
- The biggest achievement to me is able to meet and work on an idea with likeminded people who aspires to help elevate ASEAN people wellbeing. Team WeHantar is energetic, driven and determined, which are the qualities needed to build a completely different type of an ASEAN centric logistics start-up.
- There were a lot of challenges and difficulties that I faced while building WeHantar, however I don’t see them as something that I regret doing/experiencing, but seeing it as a contribution to a much-needed learning experience. All of the past events, whether good or bad has led to the growing success of WeHantar, and the team and I are grateful and optimistic of the road ahead.
Where do you see yourself in the next 1 year?
- Probably building presence across more ASEAN countries. Currently we are live in both Malaysia and Indonesia, and growing our presence there, however we cannot wait to share with everyone what we have in plans in the near future!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
- I like to always have the perception of living my life at the moment and plan on next steps accordingly. However, I do plan to continue back my studies and pursue an MBA soon. Aside to building and growing WeHantar to its full potential, personally I would see where would life takes me.
What keeps you going to keep running the business?
- Our customers positive feedbacks and messages after using WeHantar is a very powerful motivation for me personally and the team as a whole.
- Many of our current customers are foreign workers whom many are breadwinners for their families back home, and helping them to ship back basic necessities to their loved ones is definitely something to look forward to.
- Additionally, we are also assisting new and aspiring entrepreneurs (e.g. personal shoppers and online sellers) in realizing their dreams in facilitating trade between ASEAN for their customers. Many of them are students, mothers, gig-workers, and hobbyists in which they can earn extra income with the help of WeHantar.
- We are also helping current small businesses to grow and expand their business regionally, and realizing free trade in ASEAN.
What is one local startup you would like to work together with and why?
- There are many great and growing local startups in Malaysia, but unfortunately it will not do justice for me to pick one out of many. However, WeHantar would love to collaborate with a local fintech/insurtech to see how we can build synergies for our customers to better trade in ASEAN.
Who is one founder (local or international) that you look up to?
- Anderson Sumarli from Ajaib ID has successfully revolutionized and revamped the stock trading in Indonesia by providing an opportunity to all Indonesians to be able to buy shares and kickstart their own investment journey. His vision which is to increase financial literacy for Indonesians and making stock trading more transparent and safer have been proven which will continue to aspire many new investors in the future.
Why should investors invest in your enterprise?
- WeHantar is a digital logistics company specializing in cross-border deliveries via sea and land freight for large and bulky items. WeHantar aggregates various logistics partners, and we then manage the entire delivery process with our technology platform. Many logistics partners which exists today can be seen as enterprise focused, but WeHantar focuses more towards the consumer and MSME segment.
- WeHantar is not your average logistic company, we are different. WeHantar does not charge based on the weight of your package, the items being delivered nor the address or designed location; we provide door-to-door across ASEAN for a flat rate up to 75kg per box.
- There is a gap in the market for a cost-effective and reliable logistics provider, and with WeHantar we aim to realize the true potential of MSMEs and consumers by increasing access to import and export in ASEAN.
- WeHantar has always been clear with our vision, which is WeHantar for You and ASEAN.