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Angkas with Angeline Tham

By Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason Philippine Daily Inquirer October 24,2018

Petite Tham is now a looming giant in the ride-sharing industry

Last year, I met this petite girl that can pass for a college student. We were in the same group traveling to Spain. After our hi’s and hello’s and the usual getting-to-know-you questions, she mentioned she has this startup called Angkas.

You’ve probably heard about Angkas which had the same controversy the past few months as Uber. Both are ride-hailing mobile apps, one is with cars and the other with motorbikes with the same vision of trying to solve the Metro’s traffic problem. Since the current laws did not evolve as fast as the tech sector, a clash of ideas and opinions is raging in social media pages.

The woman behind The Ride.

It all started when Angeline Tham or Angie, had to go to the Philippines for three meetings all around the metro. It took her six hours to get to all her meetings, and she was late to all of them. Traveling around Asia, she realized that traffic is indeed a problem everywhere and realize that there was an opportunity for something like Angkas.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Singapore and took up a business degree at Stern School of Business in New York University. I was a banker for JP Morgan Singapore for 5 years until I realized it was not for me. From then, I ventured out into my first start-up and never looked back. My business brought me to Manila for the first time, and I fell in love with the city. Now I live in Manila with my Filipino husband and toddler.

How did you start Angkas?

In Manila, cars are seen as the primary mode of transportation. But it’s really motorbikes. There are only 1.5 million registered cars with 50% of them located in Metro Manila. LTO records show 5 million registered motorcycles but unofficial reports its close to 14M. With this kind of statistics, we realize that there is a need to have a safer and better alternative to “Habal-Habal,” so Angkas was born.

What are your goals for Angkas?

Tham presides over a training for riders

Angkas wants to provide safe, reliable and affordable motorcycle transportation to its users. We achieve this by ensuring we only high-quality bikers onboard onto the platform. We do this through background screening, safety training, and exams. Angkas aims to professionalize the habal-habal industry and to give bikers the opportunity to be their own entrepreneurs with the platform. My own personal goal is to be able to train 14 million bikers to ensure safer roads and to give them an opportunity to make a living with dignity.

Angkas had a big dispute with the LTFRB and some government agencies, besides that what else were your stumbling blocks?

Though there were a lot of people riding habal-habals, there was a stigma towards riding a motorcycle for transportation. We had a hard time changing the mindset of riders that bikers are friendly, well trained and safety conscious.

What do you need to do to be an Angkas biker?

Bikers will need to own a 2011 or newer bike in good condition from our approved list of brands and models. He will have to provide relevant documentation such as Professional Drivers License, NBI Clearance, Police Clearance, Barangay Clearance, and OR/CR for the bike. He will then have to take our free training for safety, customers service and app usage and pass our written and practical exams with a pillion through an obstacle course. Once the biker passes, he will be provided with helmets, personal accident insurance, face masks and shower caps for sanitary purposes.

Angkas is seen to be a disruptive technology; whats your tips for wannabe Tech entrepreneurs?

If there is something you believe in, put all your passion into it and don’t give up. There will be a lot of obstacles and naysayers. Listen to what they are saying, find their point of view and tackle the issue from there. It can seem overwhelming at times as a disruptor, break down the problem and prioritize solutions that will give you the most impact.

Angkas went through it all, from our office being raided, to our members being apprehended. But we held on because we believe we gave a dignified living to a lot of people.

How do people react when they realize the CEO is a woman?

They are usually shocked as tech is perceived to be a man’s world, more so for a business involving motorcycles. In fact, 50% of our staff are women. I like breaking the stereotypes, and sometimes that can even be in my favor.

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