Grab, the ride-hailing company initiated by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling was initially a college project as they were pursuing their MBA at Harvard Business School. The idea managed to earn US$25,000 in prize money from the school contest.
Anthony and Tan were aware of the chaotic Southeast Asian countries’ transportation sector and made the obstacle people face when it comes to hailing ride into advantage and opportunity. With knowledge in business administration and general management, the business plan for Grab was made. The application was developed with the prize money they earned from the pitch contest.
GrabTaxi was launched in 2012 in Malaysia, just a year before Uber’s ride-hailing service managed to penetrate Singapore and two years after Indonesia’s GoJek was made accessible to the public.
Ride-hailing has now become a large part of Southeast Asian people’s daily lives. Google and Temasek made a joint report in 2018 that showed that the Southeast Asian internet economy has reached US$72 billion. In the lead are online travel, e-commerce, online media, and ride-hailing sectors.
Seven years into the business, Grab has seen exponential growth across eight countries of Southeast Asia. It even acquired Uber’s ride-hailing service in the region. Now, Grab has made it into the list of decacorn companies with value coming close to $14 billion after earning US$1.46 billion funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in 2019.
Grab offers a lot of services, including ride-hailing, hotel booking service, on-demand video platform, ticket purchasing, food ordering, grocery shopping, and even financial service. With this model, Grab generated a revenue of over US$1 billion that doubled in January 2019.
Grab also launched a QR-code based mobile payments, GrabPay, in January 2016. GrabPay is now available in six Southeast Asian countries: Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The payment service is available for paying Grab rides, in-store purchases, food deliveries, and even fund transfer.
Loaning and insurance services have also been made possible with the application. Grab can provide loans to small-medium enterprises and micro-insurances for drivers in Singapore. Moreover, it offers Pay Later as a post-paid and installment payment service in Singapore that allows customers to pay the Grab services they made by the end of the month with no additional cost.
GrabFood, launched in 2018, is one of the most used services of the application. It has made Grab snatch the number one company in Southeast Asia’s food delivery market after taking over UberEats’ operations in Southeast Asia.
Of course, Grab also offers shopping services with GrabFresh. Consumers are free to choose from a wide selection of products that will easily get delivered to their doorstep, launched in July 2018.
In April 2019, Grab added four more services: hotel booking, on-demand video streaming, ticket purchasing, and trip planning to its Singapore app, making it a strong competition for Go-Jek, the Indonesian headquartered ride-hailing application that is also providing services from food tech to fintech with a valuation close to US$10 billion mark, battling for dominance with Grab as a one-stop platform across Southeast Asia.