About a year ago, Dasan New Town, a gigantic new apartment complex in Gyeonggi Province, found itself at the center of a nationwide controversy. A car-free community, it faced a dispute with delivery companies because it was impossible for trucks to get past the entrance. Delivery people were expected to complete their routes on foot.
Refusing to comply, the couriers left the packages at the complex entrance. The impasse was eventually resolved, but it highlighted the difficulties that the delivery industry is facing -- not to mention the frustration of residents fed up with trucks zipping around their homes.
It also laid a foundation for the birth of the startup Abyo Korea.
Abyo Korea was co-founded by four entrepreneurs led by Lee Issac. It runs Wasavi, a platform that links professional delivery people with temporary workers who are willing to take on the very last step in the distribution chain and leave packages at the recipients’ doorsteps.
Lee Issac (far right) and co-founders of Abyo Korea
Lee -- who has experience running English schools and Chinese restaurants -- says the market has significant potential for growth, mainly because of the snowballing demand for delivery services.
“The demand for package delivery increases 20 percent every year, boosted by the growth of e-commerce. But the number of delivery people decreases by 7 percent each year,” Lee told The Investor.
“Delivery workers work day and night and are often overwhelmed with endless flows of packages. They are willing to pay to reduce their workload or to focus on the areas where they can deliver more,” Lee noted.
Meanwhile, the worker who carries the package to the door can earn extra money. Those foot couriers, called “Wasavians,” are usually people who cannot or are not willing to work full-time jobs. Wasavians can earn an average of 20,000 won ($17.61) a day for two hours of work, according to Lee.
“Let’s say someone ordered several items from several different online shopping malls. It means several delivery people will have to visit that house. But if the items are first gathered together at another spot, then delivered, that would save a lot of time and energy,” Lee explained.
Wasavi currently runs in Dasan and eight other locations in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. The company’s efforts were recognized when it won a demo event for D.CAMP, a foundation set up by banks to support young entrepreneurs and startups, and received seed funding from Bon Angels, a leading venture capital specializing in early-stage investments.
With the funding, Abyo Korea will focus on expanding its services both in terms of region and scope. It wants to raise the number of daily packages it handles to 100,000, from the current 6,000. It also aims to enter the early-morning delivery market, which gained popularity after startup Market Kurly launched a similar service last year. Lee is also thinking about gathering packages from households and then delivering them to delivery stations so delivery workers don’t have to visit each home.
“Abyo Korea’s goal is to handle 20 percent of the country’s logistics,” Kim said. “Redesigning the logistics industry is our goal.”
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)