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14 June


"Uber for everything" gain polularity in Southeast Asia

It offers laundry service, grocery delivery, massage and more

Photo: AP

/NOVOSTIVL/ Ride-hailing giant Uber may have retreated from Southeast Asia, but there can be little doubt that it has left its mark on the region’s start-ups – many of which might not be around today had they not learned from its mistakes. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post.

Its business model helped give birth to competitors such as Indonesia’s Go-jek and Singapore-based Grab, which went on to acquire the San Francisco-based company’s loss-making Southeast Asia operation in March last year.

But it also inspired something far beyond its immediate competitors: a new sector offering an "Uber for everything", as start-ups raced to become the first to launch on-demand services in areas as diverse as grocery delivery and laundry services to helicopter hires and senior care.

Examples of its lingering influence include Honestbee, a Singapore-based on-demand delivery service for food and groceries that has expanded to eight cities including Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila and Hong Kong; the marketplaces Kaodim in Malaysia and Seekmi in Indonesia, which offer services from professional cleaners to photographers; Helpster, which connects blue-collar workers with employers in Thailand and Indonesia; and Singapore’s Homage, connecting carers with the elderly and disabled.

Few, however, have the reach of the on-demand behemoths Grab and Go-jek, which have widened their offerings in recent years to include everything from massages and beautician appointments to package deliveries and on-call mechanics.