Grab the Success Story!

On the superpowered digital highway some amazing success stories are envisioned and created, whose impacts are found across the very real world. The superapp developed by Singapore-based Grab Holdings Inc. has gained phenomenal popularity within a decade. The superapp is named Grab, which is a leading superapp in South-east Asia, operating across the deliveries, mobility and digital financial services sectors. 

According to research done by Euromonitor for Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Grab remained the category leader in 2022 by GMV in online food deliveries and ride-hailing in South-east Asia. One can say that the super success of Grab is the product of an out-of-the world vision, powered by digital revolution.

Here it deserves a mention that Grab is South-east Asia’s first decacorn, a term used for privately held companies with a valuation exceeding 10 billion USD, and perhaps is the biggest technology start-up brand in South-east Asia.

Impressive Revenues

The revenue of Grab Holdings Limited grew 61 percent year-over-year to reach 615 million USD in the third quarter of 2023 as compared to the corresponding period in the last year. In the third quarter of 2022, the company’s revenue was 382 million USD.

For the third quarter of 2023, Group Adjusted EBITDA of Grab Holdings Limited turned positive for the first time at $29 million for the quarter, which was an improvement of $190 million compared to negative $161 million for the same period in 2022.

The growth of the company to such a mammoth size within 11 years is nothing short of astonishing and deserves research and study. Grab Holdings was initially founded as My Teksi in 2012 in Malaysia by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling as a ride-hailing company. According to the Founders, “Grab started off as a ride-hailing company, helping drivers earn a livelihood.” 

Inspiration and Vision 

Initially, the company used to offer ride-hailing services under the brand name GrabTaxi in Malaysia. When Anthony Tan was in the Harvard Business School, the idea of coming up with a taxi-booking mobile app for South-east Asia came to him. Spurred by the aim to make taxi rides safer in Malaysia, he together with Tan Hooi Ling, another Harvard graduate, introduced My Teksi app in Malaysia.

While talking of the inspiration behind starting this innovative app, the Founders pointed out “Back in business school where we met, we both took a class called Business at the Base of the Pyramid (BBOP) and were greatly inspired by the story of Lapdesk, a for-profit social enterprise (FOPSE) dedicated to eradicating the shortage of classroom desks at public schools.”

“This case study and BBOP made us realise that businesses can create double bottom lines—i.e. deliver profits and social impact at the same time—and sparked a dream of building a company that would be a force for good for South-east Asia, the place we call home,” the Founders further informed.

Diversifying Presence

Beginning as a ride-hailing service, Grab’s operations have now spread across diverse business verticals. It includes transportation, food delivery, grocery delivery, parcel delivery, e-commerce, online payment, financial services and vehicle rental. Serving over 500 cities in eight South-east Asian countries, today Grab enables millions of people to order food or groceries, send packages, hail a taxi, pay for online purchases or access services such as lending and insurance, all through a single app. 

In the following year after its inception, the company expanded its business operations to Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, and in 2014 Grab Holdings Limited expanded its presence to Vietnam and Indonesia. GrabTaxi was moving in the Philippines in August 2013, and two months later in Singapore and Thailand.

 In 2014 itself the company introduced GrabCar in South-east Asian countries and GrabBike in Vietnam. In 2015, the company entered the realm of logistics delivery service under the name GrabExpress. In 2016, Grab Holdings further diversified its offerings by introducing GrabPay as an online payment service and GrabFood as an online food delivery service. GrabTaxi was rebranded as Grab with a new, redesigned logo, in January 2016.

In 2018, Grab Holdings entered into a merger with Uber for operating in South-east Asian countries. In 2021, the company became publicly-traded on NASDAQ. On 20th July 2023, Grab Holdings Limited and Trans-cab Holdings Ltd. announced the signing of an agreement for Grab Rentals Pte. Ltd. to acquire 100 percent of the shares in Trans-cab.

Trans-cab is Singapore’s third largest taxi operator, a familiar and well-respected local brand that has been serving Singaporeans since 2003. The acquisition includes Trans-cab’s taxi and car rental business, maintenance workshop, and fuel pump operations. 

“With more than 70 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in SEA, employing over 140 million people and accounting for 99 percent of all businesses in the region, everyday entrepreneurs are the bedrock of our economy and the reason Grab expanded its services to become the superapp to millions of such entrepreneurs,” the Founders of Grab further noted.

The success story of Grab as a brand can be an inspiration to many first-generation tech entrepreneurs to think out of the box and continually diversify to grab success stories in the digital space.

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