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Young woman finds success in logistics sector

Pham Khánh Linh, 27, the founder of Logivan, has been named on Forbes Vietnam's list of 30 Under 30.

Pham Khanh Linh (standing) presents at a forum. — Photo courtesy of Khanh Linh

The list features the 30 most prominent faces under 30 years old in Vietnam.

Linh said her journey into the field of logistics was accidental because she studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. 

Returning to Vietnam in 2017 after seven years of studying and working in England, Linh joined the family business. She studied information technology but her family's company worked on plant protection drugs, not related to her expertise. But she still wanted to have the opportunity to gain experience to understand the traditional industries in Vietnam, from which to observe and find shortcomings to put technology into practice and slowly change.

“That year I was hatching a new venture after a previous failed project. The idea came from witnessing the huge inefficiency of 10 trucks in the Long An factory where I worked for a year. And that’s only 10 trucks! What about the hundreds of thousands, nearly a million trucks in Vietnam?” Linh said.

Then she decided on the name Logivan for her company. 

“It was the only name that made people on the street think of logistics — and it even sounds like a Logitem copycat,” said Linh.

“A month later we were frantically talking to as many shippers and truckers as possible. We set out to understand the market thoroughly, knowing the number one reason a start-up fails is a lack of a genuine problem in the first place. And we noticed the fragmentation facet that dominates the trucking industry in many single landmass countries, with Vietnam included,” she said. 

Linh found that 90 per cent of trucking companies had fewer than five trucks, and their capacity was extremely underutilised. 

“No co-ordination. No optimisation. Nothing. Just pure inefficiency. Pure waste,” she said.

So she thought about creating an Uber platform for trucks. It made complete sense.

“The market was rife with small players, and arbitrage had become rampant. The truck owners had lost all their independence and bargaining power to the agents. But technology could solve this information asymmetry. A technology solution could unify the ecosystem of small independent truckers, giving them the power to control their businesses and eliminate the cutthroat brokerage layers,” said Linh.

Over the past two years, the biggest difficulty that Logivan has encountered is the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

The company, as well as the domestic road transport industry, has suffered severe impacts with the transport and circulation of goods restricted, and clients reducing their production scale.

In order to cope with this difficult time, Logivan was trying to focus its resources and solutions on the most core issues while ensuring the customers' transport cycle was not interrupted, said Linh.

With the advantage of 50,000 trucks - 300 times larger than the largest transport firms, Logivan is still able to provide smooth services in all 64 provinces and cities during the pandemic. In provinces where there are restrictions on transportation, the company transports from truck to transshipment area, and then uses trucks in restricted areas to load and continue the journey. 

Pham Khanh Linh (centre) cuts the ribbon to launch an enterprise connecting programme. — Photo courtesy of Khanh Linh

In March 2018, Logivan won the Uber Exchange startup contest and a ticket to Silicon Valley. It also overcame more than 800 teams from around the world at the Asia Technology Summit. A month later it received an additional US$1.75 million Series A round investment led by Ethos Partners, Insignia Venture Partners and VinaCapital Ventures. 

Its achievements also include Pitch @ Palace Global 2018 first prize organised by Prince Andrew - Duke of York in December the same year.

Linh said that the Forbes' 30 under 30 award was recognition and great encouragement to her and Logivan.

"If I waited until everything was perfect, Logivan would still be at zero today. So just do it," she said.

Logistics is a very complex industry and requires in-depth operational knowledge. So far, the human element has played a leading role in all activities of this process.

Logivan will continue to devote time and resources to continue developing technological solutions to maintain its current pioneering position.

“Young people, especially women, should be confident when they have an idea for a startup. Confidence is an important factor leading to success. Besides, always try your best to study and use your skills,” said Linh.  VNS

Thu Trang

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