From Uttar Pradesh to Bangkok: Corporate adventures of a Sikh boy

Based in Bangkok, Gagan Singh is CFO of logistics platform provider Deliveree and managing venture capital funds at Inspire Ventures

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By Asia Samachar | Thailand |

Born and bred in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, Gagan Singh is now cutting his teeth in corporate and venture capital worlds in Southeast Asia. He is helping to build a Bangkok-based company managing a platform to handle deliveries. At the same time, he is nurturing a lifestyle channel while keeping a lookout for an opportunity to build a fintech company. And he seems to be having fun as he operates from Bangkok.

At the moment, his main role is as the chief financial officer (CFO) at logistics platform provider Deliveree Private Ltd and managing venture capital funds at Inspire Ventures.

Deliveree, which operates as a logistics platform, enables businesses to move their goods, merchandise, and cargo by its mobile and web application that provides companies with access to drivers of commercial vehicles on a pay-as-you-go basis. Deliveree serves customers in Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines. It was founded in 2015 by Inspire Ventures and Ardent Capital.

Gagan was born in Saharanpur, a small town in western Uttar Pradesh, India. He comes from a nuclear middle class family of four consisting his parents and a younger sister. He is qualified Chartered Accountant.

“I did my entire education from my hometown before moving to the corporate world,” he tells Asia Samachar in an email interview. Read on to get a glimpse of his adventure.

Tell us about your parents?

My parents are pretty well educated. My father, Harjeet Singh, was an advocate by profession and he was the primary bread earner for our family while I was growing up. We lost him back in 2016 due to cardiac arrest. My mother, Amarjeet Kaur, is MA in Political Science and she used to heavily assist my Dad with his legal and admin work. Growing up, education was placed as an utmost important part of our upbringing.

What were your dreams when growing up?

Just like any other kid, I had many dreams growing up. Even though being rich and famous were the cardinal rules I set for myself at a very young age, the trajectory to achieve them kept changing.

I vividly remember that when I was 5 years old, I dreamt of becoming a pilot and a decorated officer at the Indian Air force. Few years later, I got really fascinated with sports and wanted to become a cricketer. During early teenage days, I was captivated by cinema and wanted to direct movies. However, by the time I passed 12th standard, I got extremely focussed on studies, and had just one ambition – to become a Chartered Accountant. Regardless, my passion for cinema has persisted and I still aspire to be a filmmaker someday.

Tell us about your immediate family now?

My immediate family consists of my wife, Rijuta Misra, who is a practicing legal professional and my 4 year old son, Abeer Ajmani Singh. I met Rijuta as a colleague in Udaipur where I was posted during my first job. Blame the Venice of the East or our later adulthood, we fell for each other and eventually got married in 2013.

You are currently the CFO at Deliveree. How did you join this company?

I relocated to Bangkok, Thailand as an expatriate in 2012, when I was hired by an MNC in the Corporate Finance role. After working for a couple of years, I started looking for exciting opportunities elsewhere. During 2014, there was a huge buzz around startups and tech companies in South-East Asia which got me interested as well. Despite coming from an altogether different background, I started joining the social events for networking with tech people and that’s where I met a couple of individuals who were planning to start a venture capital firm called Inspire Ventures where apart from making direct investments in tech startups, they were also planning to incubate and build a B2B tech logistics marketplace (aka “Deliveree”).

As luck may have it, I was at the right place at the right time and I couldn’t resist an opportunity of joining a firm where I could contribute above and beyond my core financial function. I thereafter joined Inspire Ventures + Deliveree as its first executive in early 2015. Presently, I also sit on the board of both Deliveree and Inspire Ventures.

What does the company do?

Deliveree is Southeast Asia’s leading B2B trucking, road cargo, and goods delivery provider operating in Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. Our asset light business is powered by evolving third-generation technology, a massive marketplace of vendors, a robust roster of blue-chip and SME customers. Today the company has over 400 employees with 7 different offices, and we are one of the biggest tech logistics operators in each of our operating countries.

The company has operations in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Why these three countries?

Deliveree’s mission is to optimise the logistics industry in South-East Asia (SEA) with increased service levels and affordable pricing. To put things in perspective, logistics costs in OECD countries account for 8-9% of the GDP, while in SEA it is approximately 3x of that ~ 25%. This is primarily because the logistics industry in this part of the world is extremely fragmented and disorganized. On top of that, the poor infrastructure doesn’t support either which leads to a lot of inefficiencies in the overall ecosystem.

Deliveree’s aggregating platform and marketplace model solves this problem through technology by utilising the idle capacity of the vehicles. Our spot booking services and pay per use model serves as a perfect variable cost solution for our customers as they are no longer required to commit to a fixed pricing model, which has plagued this industry for decades. Lastly, we provide bespoke solutions for the businesses through process mapping and driver training, which ensures enhanced and reliable service levels.

Are there plans to expand to other countries? If yes, where and what is the primary criteria?

Yes, we plan to launch in Vietnam in 2022. Its for the reasons outlined above.

Tell us more about your involvement in Inspire Ventures (Venture Builder ASEAN).

At Inspire Ventures, I am involved in managing the fund on behalf of the Limited Partners. My role involves end-to-end management of the investment cycle including, but not limited to, identifying the investment opportunities, doing detailed due diligence, seeking the approval of the Investment Committee, working on the regulatory paperwork, ongoing monitoring of the portfolio investments performance, etc.

Where did you make your money to help you break into the venture capital business?

The money is not mine but it came directly from the Limited Partners (LPs). I only manage the fund on their behalf.

How has your journey been so far?

The last 7 years of my life have been extremely rewarding, both professionally as well as financially. Building a company is a herculean task and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished over these past few years. Today, Deliveree is a well-known brand in all the markets where we operate and attract a lot of investors’ interest. Next for me at Deliveree is to close a Series C investment round which will be done by the end of December 2021, after which I will be transitioning to the next step in my career.

Yes, I do plan to build yet another company which will be a Fintech platform that aims to provide liquidity solutions for private company employees. This new company is called Wows Global and will operate out of Singapore. Building startups is my passion and I feel fortunate to get an opportunity to work on the projects that I truly believe in.

Apart from work, I am an avid traveler, a wine connoisseur, a sports enthusiast and love making Youtube videos. Earlier this year, I also started a lifestyle channel called Wows Lifestyle

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