A Note to My Teleporters: 2021 Through My Eyes – I Almost Gave Up

2021 could have been it for me. 

A year that started with the promise of a roar, languished in between, and ended in an almighty flood. There was a sense that we had survived the worst of it in 2020 (whilst wearing our “Anti-Pandemic Pandemic Club” t-shirts), but vaccines would only arrive much later, and working from home would take a bigger toll on you and I. Virtual work became instant and on-demand.

So like you, I suffered in silence, grinding with no end in sight. Each new lockdown, COVID variant of concern (I’ve counted 5 so far) and every new revision to government policy had me anxiously figuring out how to keep Teleport moving. It was exhausting, yet so touching when you shared your struggles and vulnerabilities over one power-packed Power Hour. 

In a year with little chance to connect, I reflect on 2021 not for the things done (see list at the end) as much as the conversations that connected. I was reminded “it’s ok not to be ok” and that was good.

All the while we kept adding to #TeamTeleport – 21 new colleagues onboarded remotely every month, sometimes twice a month. I wondered how we could hear you, help grow you, and connect you to our unique culture (and our 6 core values) at that kind of scale. 
I had to confront your hard questions on culture, ownership, growth, inequity, pay and especially the identity crisis we seemed to be suffering from – who are we?

We tend to label how a company “is” by its age; a “startup” is young, nimble, and hip whilst a “corporate” is mature, stable but slow. What a startup lacks in formal process it gains in speed and an energy to challenge the status quo. A large company is stable, but how fast can it really go? 

My job is to make sure Teleport avoids the worst of both worlds at any cost. To not combine the messiness of a startup, with the complexity of a large organization and COVID19, for all its disruptive qualities, helped me in one simple, brute way – it took away everything I thought we had (planes, international flights, profits) and left me to answer – what are we without those things?

It turns out your ability to adapt, improvise and power ahead is remarkable. You learned to build from scratch almost everything we now do routinely – flying with cargo and no passengers, flying freighters, selling to large freight forwarders, using other airlines to move our shipments, delivering food, sorting, delivering in 24 hours, negotiating customs paperwork, delivering in bulk on behalf of our customers, collecting cash from our customers quickly, and really stretching our dollar. 

We minted our first #TeamTeleport NFT (non-fungible token) to celebrate how important Joanne Chin is to our journey from A to B (she’s in our virtual hall of fame now).

But the cost of growing also means many things are broken and need fixing, and we lose some great people along the journey who have helped shape, grow and made Teleport to what it is today. 

Like Joanne, Queenie, Willy, Pawan, Mateen, Wei Kiat, Eawei, Shan, Jen Shen, Mentari, Gift and another hundred more who left us this past year.

I re-learned that there is strength in caring, in kindness, in communicating, and in reaching out. Combine this with a better and simpler system to get the routine things done, and I believe we will deepen trust across #TeamTeleport in 2022. We’ll know we’ve done this when you know your growth, ambitions and pay are in good hands.

On light switches

When building systems, I’m reminded of a year-end conversation I had with someone else in Teleport: in it he explained what matters the most in building systems, or “light switches” – that if you ask a person to build you a switch without also telling them what light gets turned on that person will not understand the importance of their work. But if you tell that same person how important their switch is to the runway light that lands a rocket ship, that person will appreciate the value of their work, and understand their connection to the goals we may have. And the next time someone asks them what they are doing, they can explain how awesome their switch system is.

I’ll remember that.

Slowly, then suddenly 

We expect progress to be linear, or to happen quickly. 2021 reminded me that the results of our efforts can be delayed months and even year(s), and that can be discouraging and frustrating. Some may choose to leave (and many have chosen to this past year). Others struggle to see the value of their work and the point of it. 

But all that work is stored and accumulated slowly, never wasted. The full extent of that work only shows later, adding up quickly. A small case in point:

It took us 2 long years to reach 100,000+ deliveries a month (we even ran a #roadto100k campaign for airasia food in between), 4 months to reach 200,000+ deliveries a month, but only 1 month to deliver over 300,000 deliveries a month. Progress eventually happens all of a sudden.

I’m convinced across all of Teleport, the collective work we have done will show up big in 2022. Slowly, then suddenly. For that, and much more, I’m not giving up. 



What we did in 2021:

  • Revenue exceeded US$130 million, 15% higher than our record pre-COVID, despite missing 90% of our core belly capacity, and as of December we are back profitable.
  • As a Group we completed 1.5 million deliveries and shipped 101,000 tonnes of cargo.
  • #TeamTeleport grew to 538 strong and we hired almost one new colleague a day (!). Everyone got double vaccinated. We even delivered some of the global vaccine supply.
  • We onboarded 60+ gojek Thailand colleagues (in 30 days!), Shirmein & 31 more Delivereat teammates, who were welcomed into the team as part of Teleport’s US$10M acquisition of Delivereat in November, and 10 first-time Magicians-in-Training (MITs, our management trainee program). 
  • Two of our own, Izzah and Ardi found love in Teleport.  
  • We minted our first #TeamTeleport NFT (non-fungible token) to celebrate how important Joanne Chin is to our journey from A to B (she’s in our virtual hall of fame now).
  • Community onboarded more than 10,000 Teleporters with >60% of our riders in Malaysia now choosing to deliver at least two different services (Instant, Flash or Standard) each week.
  • Teleport delivered more than 10,000 orders a day – a year ago this was 1,700 a day. 
  • Delivery launched 42 lanes that we deliver door to door in 24 hours between.
  • Teleport delivers for more than 736 new businesses this year – from large marketplaces like Zalora or Central Group, world-class delivery companies like DHL e-commerce and Best Express, big brands like McDonalds or Irvins, and hundreds of small businesses that now self-sign up and can start shipping anywhere in our network in 5 minutes (seriously, try it out on our website, it’s magical).
  • The boys and girls in operations moved into our first Teleport hubs in Malaysia. (Sunway), Singapore and Thailand – we are building 47 more of these hubs in 2022!
  • Cargo took delivery of our first Teleport full-cargo freighter (a Boeing 737-800F) after having removed seats from the first AirAsia passenger aircraft earlier this year.
  • Cargo now ships >90% of our customer’s shipments the same day, and >98% departs on time (let’s get to my 99% goal this year guys!).
  • The Cargo team made huge progress signing up and onboarding top 20 Global Forwarders for the first time – big boys like DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne + Nagel, DB Schenker, Agility, CEVA Logistics, and Nippon Express. Job very well done!
  • The team of 7 at Freightchain scaled a digital platform that facilitated more than US$35 million of cargo transaction volume for 5 other airlines this year.
  • MIDA (The Malaysian Investment Development Authority) granted Teleport a special 10 year incentive (Principal Hub 2.0) to make Malaysia our regional headquarters starting in 2023.
  • Teleport now has 15 licenses (and counting) across our 7 country operations that help us get things delivered anywhere in Southeast Asia in less than 24 hours.

2 thoughts on “A Note to My Teleporters: 2021 Through My Eyes – I Almost Gave Up

  1. First thing first, Pete, I’m impressed, and thank you so much for these notes…

    – 100% totally agree; it’s okay not to be okay.
    – new colleague onboarded should be significant to growth, but not in Delivery Operation (Standard Team), 3 new people onboarded from Delivery Partner, 3 people choose to leave.
    – Who are we? Need full support for everyone to make it clearly understood by everyone.
    – Deepen the trust will lead to loyalty. Loyal people will stay unless got other reasons
    – On light switches… Communication is the key. Whatever plan, decision, and announcement need to check all are aware of it and together make it happen. Not effective if the staff just follow and work on the instruction without knowing the aim/purposes of it
    – Slowly but suddenly…… Valley of disappointment. The hard truth…
    – Finally, we have #Team Teleport NFT.
    – Looking up to seeing it happen for 47 hubs opening in 2022.

    I’m also choosing not to give up…

    Thank you, Teleport

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