Alumni Success Story – Tai HO, ZLOGb 2020 and Founder & CEO at Knorie. See profile on Linkedin
“I credited much of my contribution into Tiki Corporation’s success to MITx & ZLOGb. I could not have achieved what I did without your program. I was promoted to senior director three months before my 26th birthday, being the youngest ever in the company’s history”
You have developed your career in Tiki Corporation. What is the company’s mission?
Tiki Corporation was established back to 2010. It has often been referred to as Amazon of Vietnam, which is true in many regards. Since the very beginning, we have focused on retailing authentic goods and offering excellent customer experience. Most notably, we have gained our reputation of being the first to offer 2-hour delivery service in Vietnam. As competition heated up, we adopted more operation models and successfully built a fairly complex supply chain system within 3+ years, from 2015 to early 2019. Our sales increased by 10x during the period; meanwhile, our average delivery leadtime decreased by half. We had secured giant check-size investments following our continued growth, hitting a valuation of more than 950M USD in the latest funding round. Yet at the time of writing, we have entered a new era of less aggressive expansion, and we now put more attention on EBITDA. This is more of an inevitable shift due to many significant macroeconomy shifts: COVID-19, FED’s rate hike and weakened demand. Therefore, more optimization will be implemented onwards, of which, optimization in logistics and supply chain plays a key role.
What was your role as Head of Transportations?
My contribution to the company started back to 2014 when I was hired as the first and only analyst of the department of operations. I was responsible to crunch nearly all types of data to furnish business insights as fast as possible, and I was also staffed in designing many new programs/policies. I have my finger prints on many different systems used in the company nowadays, from OMS to WMS, TMS, after-sales service, to name a few. I was the founding member of the famous 2-hour delivery. All of those were accomplished before I took my sabbatical leave to complete the ZLOGb program in H1 2020.
After returning, I went on founding a completely new business line for Tiki, which was selling our inhouse logistics to the market as a B2B service. This new direction had further implications than meets the eye. First, we had to change our perspective, from designing a close system for internal uses to making it open, flexible and somehow intuitive for an average client, who often has a much simpler operations than ours, to quickly understand, integrate and use. We had then learn how to price the service and sell it. Up until today, the biggest clients who we are still in business with, are those whose deals were sealed under my watch. There was a time where I was wearing 2 hats: being the leader of both business development and transportation departments.
I stepped into the role of leading transportation team amidst the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The government had imposed a total lockdown, only a few critical services were allowed to travel on the street. E-commerce was considered essential, so we were able to continue our delivery, but the number of deliverymen at work was strictly limited. We were hit on many fronts at the same time: demand was soaring due to panic purchase, supply was down due to restricted circulation, staff’s morale reached the lowest point, administration was stretched because of extra paperwork, etc,… As a result, my top priority in the first few months in the role is to keep the team united, focused and to clean up an already mounting backlog as soon as possible.
We finally finished up delivering all urgent orders by end of November 2021, 4 months after the outbreak started. The key lesson learned was that during crisis, we should not wait for our 3PLs help us, because they themselves were struggling as well, even worse than us. I then went to rapidly expand our delivery network, bringing the total volume share of in-house delivery from below 50% up to 76% within 6 months. It meant that we would decentralize our network significantly to tap into 2nd, 3rd cities. Not only did we need to redesign the network topology, we also made tweaks in IT system, processes, hiring and training. It was a tremendous collective effort from the company.
Which projects are you currently working on?
I left Tiki after January 2023 to fund my current startup, Knorie, abbreviation for “Known calorie”. It’s a diet tracking app with a bunch of features to make the tracking process easier. Knorie also offers meal delivery. The future application of our app is broadly defined as a personal nutrition assistant. An AI-powered approach will help consumers make better decisions on their diet based on their goals and past consumption behaviors.
You studied our Master of Engineering in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, the Blended option (ZLOGb), which allows learners to combine online MIT MicroMasters credential with one semester at Zaragoza Logistics Center. What did you get from this program?
I credited much of my contribution into Tiki Corporation’s success to MITx ZLOGb. I could not have achieved what I did without your program. I was promoted to senior director three months before my 26th birthday, being the youngest ever in the company’s history. I was put in the forefront of many company’s projects and innovation. In order to tackle those challenges, I have collected many new perspectives, knowledges from ZLOGb. This is the true power of MOOC. I believe that not only myself but thousands of people around the world have been able to make incredible progress in their careers thanks to you. The social impact of MITx ZLOGb is indeed countless.
Why did you decided to study the blended option and how help you?
The blended option was the only viable way for me to follow a world-class quality program, considering my always-packed working calendar. From my own observation, the quality of online classes was still on par with on-campus. Kudos to the MIT/ZLC teams.
How was your experience at Zaragoza Logistics Center and our city?
My experience in Zaragoza and in ZLC is so far one of the best memory of my life. In fact, I love Spain. I plan to visit the country every two years. I appreciate the Spanish people and the language. I pretty much enjoy the country’s climate, landscape, culture, food and hospitality.
COVID-19 has made my class of 2020 one of its kind. It could be a pity, but above all, it’s very memorable. Three years after graduation, sitting in my office writing these lines, I recall the windy, sunny roads to Longares, Cariñena, Jaulín, Alfamén, Valmadrid that I shared with my local friend cyclists. These activities always pop up in my mind as fresh, vivid, beautiful and sensational memories like a yesterday ride. I am also craving for a lunch at Kuara’s. Such a lovely place with lovely staffs.