Shiva Mahadi, Sreenivas Saba and Shashi Shekhar have spent a good part of their working careers with logistics companies in Mumbai. During a stint working together, they notice the glaring inefficiencies in the logistics industry. “A technology-enabled solution is required to bring some efficiency into this industry,” said Shiva when he represented eCourierz, their company, at the YourStory Logistics meetup. To build up this solution with the domain knowledge they had, they roped in Ajaykumar R, a solid technologist,as the technical co-founder. Thus began their startup journey.
They set out with the idea of aggregating couriers ranked by price, time and other attributes. “The whole idea of eCourierz is to be like makemytrip or redbus for couriers,” said Shiva. Customers today make their decision to send couriers based on a brand they remember or a location near their home or office. Also, there is no basis to compare courier rates and services and eCourierz provide this on one platform. “When customers are comfortable comparing and choosing between various airlines online, we believe that a similar problem can be solved in this industry by taking things online. Just as technology has made lives easier in a variety of industries for users and vendors, we hope to be able to do the same in the logistics industry,” saidAjay.
eCourierz was launched in September 2014;the response has been encouraging but the team doesn’t want to reveal any numbers just yet. “We have tried to keep the model lean and learn and iterate as we progress. We have our MVP website and dashboard and use everything we learn on a daily basis to make a more robust product that genuinely solves a problem,” said Shiva. Currently,with a team of nine people in technology and sales roles, eCourierz is working towards finding the right product-market fit.
eCourierz has a fee-for-service revenue model. They display MRP rates of courier companies and every time there is a booking, they receive a commission. Their main job is marketing and sales. To put it simply, think of it as something like a ‘consignment sale’ online. “We operate all India but have a focus on a few key cities. The most important thing at this stage is learning about the industry and the customer we serve,” said Shiva.
Working with courier companies is a challenge since one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work and their systems need to be very flexible. A Crisilreport from 2013 estimates that there are around 2,500 courier service providers in India. And practically speaking, there are many more than that in every stage of development and organization. Also, there will be some degree of education that’ll need to be done on the customer side since eCourierz is the aggregator and not the one who actually goes and delivers.
Completely bootstrapped, eCourierz is roughing it out in a large and not-so- tech- savvy market. eCourierz is also running a crowdfunding campaign on Catapooolt to raise seed funding.“While we have seen rail and air ticket bookings being done online, this has come with a lot of investment into technology built over many, many years. The journey is just beginning for logistics (in India or elsewhere), so there certainly will be many opportunities and many, many challenges in the journey to organize and unify this market,” said Shiva.
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