Young Entrepreneurs See Opportunity in Delivery Services during Pandemic

Chao Chinh Lyly started PAPA Deliver with four other friends in 2018. Photo supplied.

As COVID-19 has seen lockdowns and the closure of shops, budding entrepreneur Chao Chinh Lyly, 21, saw a gap in the market for online delivery services.

PHNOM PENH--The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a range of challenges for businesses, but for others, the shift in social norms has provided an opportunity. For the five founders of PAPA Deliver, the massive rise in demand for delivery services presented their startup with a chance to flourish by using technology to transport goods in Cambodia.

Chao Chinh Lyly, a 21-year-old who recently graduated from university, started PAPA Deliver with four other friends in 2018, but Lyly said that they hadn’t intended to start their own business until she competed in a global tech startup competition sponsored by Alibaba Business School and organized by the University of Battambang and the Ministry of Education in 2020.

Lyly and her team won the competition, coming in first place and so PAPA Deliver was born.

“We think that it is an opportunity for us to launch our startup during this time,” explained Lyly. “A lot of people don’t go out, and they shop online a lot. So, delivery services are on a rise. Moreover, when we released our application in 2020, we received a lot of support.”

Running a startup has been an eye-opening experience for Lyly since she has quickly transformed herself from a student to an entrepreneur with no prior experience.

Lyly said that she had encountered many obstacles, particularly the lack of capital and she had to be patient when solving problems as a result.

“Starting a delivery service can be very complicated. Delivery services need to operate quickly, so if we don’t know how to divide the operation’s tasks, it would be difficult to manage the service. Some companies had also shut down their businesses,” Lyly said.

The jump from studying to working was particularly challenging, as she went from being a student to being self-employed with limited support and so she had to learn a lot by herself in a short period of time.

“While working for ourselves, we have to work twice as hard to ensure that our operation is still going well,” she added. 

Currently, there are more than 20 delivery companies using the PAPA Deliver App and nearly 10,000 restaurants registered for the PAPA Deliver delivery service.

Lyly said that her business has many competitors, so maintaining customer confidence through quality services is crucial to sustaining the business.

Lyly said, “We think that companies should provide high confidence to customers. It means that when customers use a delivery service from a company who works with us, they feel confident because the company is using our app, in which we provide quick solutions for them.”         

From Banteay Meanchey Province, Lyly plans to expand her business to other provinces and countries to compete on the international market.

When asked what advice she could offer younger Cambodians with ambitions in business, Lyly said that preparation is key.

“Learn about the type of business you want to be involved in,” she said. “Learn as much as you can, particularly about the competitors and then you have to develop a clear business plan.”

Additional reporting by Uth Raksmey

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