Meet Thinesh Kumar Asogan, CEO of Lapasar

Disruptr: Thinesh Kumar Asogan, CEO of Lapasar

Share with us on what you do and what inspired you to start the business?

  • I co-founded Lapasar and we are a B2B application that is used by small retailers (mom & pop & restaurants) to buy FMCG goods at wholesale prices. We allow small volume purchases and deliver for free within 48-72 hours enabling Just in time ordering.
  • We started the business in 2018 wanting to help small businesses gain access to more sales & profits. I started off as a medical device distributor when I was 22 (2012) as a part time job which I eventually ran full time when I graduated. Running that company, I found that it was extremely difficult to gain access to more sales and profits.
  • I had an idea to start Lapasar to first enable small businesses to gain access to large corporations and later pivoted into the wholesale business when the pandemic came.

What has the journey been like?

  • Rewarding. There were many sleepless nights, anxious moments, ups & downs. Many nights spent thinking and unable to sleep.
  • In the end of the day, it is still an extremely rewarding journey because of the growth we have experienced & number of businesses we have helped.
  • We started of as a team of 4 in 2017 during the ideation stage with no sales and today, we have grown to become a team of over 250 people, h millions of revenue, over 10,000 small businesses in the ecosystem & we look forward to many more sleepless nights to ensure we build the largest online supply chain the country has ever seen.

Biggest achievement and what is one regret that you wish you had or had not done?

  • I believe Lapasar’s biggest achievement was pivoting right in the middle of the pandemic. We started off as a corporate procurement platform and when the pandemic came, we had limited money in the bank but took the risk to launch the wholesale business & it outgrew the corporate business by many folds.
  • We have made so many mistakes but I don’t think I regret anything. For instance, we always feel we could have been faster with systems & processes to keep up with growth, we wish we had started the wholesale business faster, not waste so much money building technology that people don’t need.
  • All of that being said, I do not regret any of the mistakes, those led to far bigger wins for us.

Where do you see yourself in the next 1 year?

  • In the next one year, Lapasar is looking to serve 12,000 active monthly retailers which also means 12,000 active unique distribution points in a month. This would mean we would have the largest direct distribution network in the Malaysian FMCG industry.
  • We are also confident we will be profitable 1 year from now with the scale achieved. We would be operating in 6 states in Malaysia with 4 warehouses and close to 100 trucks. Our App will be the single most used FMCG app in the country.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

  • In the next 5 years, we believe we would be serving 30,000 active monthly retailers & we would be the official e-distributor of all the top FMCG brands in the country. We also envision being in multiple countries as we believe the brands will bring us abroad.
  • It is important to be regional with brand’s support as it will not require us to burn large sums of money to gain market share. We would also operate the largest network of warehouses & trucks in the country moving goods across the entire country & region.
  • We would have moved from just commerce into software, data & financing assisting the brands and retailers in our ecosystem.

What keeps you going to keep running the business?

  • Our growth, stakeholders growth & positive outlook on unit economics. We have grown tremendously over the last 2 years & that motivates us and the team. More importantly, our stakeholders have grown. We have seen our retailers spending more with us which means they have grown.
  • We have over 50 trucks running nationwide & we deal with owner operators. We have seen those owner-operator grow from owning 1 truck to 6 trucks now. We have seen employees grow from junior positions to holding important portfolios within the company.
  • We have seen shareholders grow the value of their shareholding and exiting the business with exceptional returns. Lastly, any business must serve a purpose & create monetary value. The customer retention rate, basket size, gross margins & profit per drop all increasing steadily.

What is one local startup you would like to work together with and why?

  • I can’t think of any particular startup but we are keen to partner up with logistics & warehousing players. We are continuously looking for ways to serve our customer faster, better & cheaper and a big part of our business is supply chain management. The ability to get goods to our customers faster & cheaper would benefit both Lapasar & the small retailers we serve.

Who is one founder (local or international) that you look up to?

  • I have 2 idols whom I have adored since my teenage days. Steve Jobs & Lee Kuan Yew. Both are visionaries with one changing the world while the other changed the entire fate of a nation in one lifetime. Both have extreme grit and determination and believed in their vision with so much conviction.

Why should investors invest in your enterprise?

  • Lapasar is a simple company, with a simple business and simple goal. We want to consolidate the most number of small retailers in the country and eventually other countries in the region simply because it has not been done before.
  • Malaysia is not as competitive as other markets due to limited funding & the capital required to get it done is relatively small.
  • We have a clear path to generate USD 100 million gross profits a year, we have a team-market fit with the ability to deal with any layer of business and we have a clear 1 year timeline till profitability. We also have a great cap table with super supportive investors.

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