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Indore-based Maalgaadi aims to be Ola for goods vehicles in Tier 2-3 cities

Mukti Masih
11th May 2015
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Nothing is more sophisticated than the simplicity of services in a logistics market. Add to that a stellar consumer experience and a social impact, you have a viable startup model. With meticulous planning, an Indore-based startup of five has managed to scale in just five months.

Meet Maalgaadi.net -- a website that provides loading vehicles. The vehicle arrives at your doorsteps to move goods to a desired destination without the usual hassles of waiting time, abusive drivers and loss of goods in transit. In other startup words, it’s like an Ola for loading, unloading and moving goods.

maalgaadi
The team of drivers with Maalgaadi founders and staff

 

So far, Maalgaadi has made about 1,000 successful trips in Indore with 18 vehicles. They have a tall ambition of crossing the mark of 100 vehicles by the end of August this year. In a reluctant city, with about 20,000 logistics cargo, they charge 20per cent less than the market, and have a 95 per cent rate of repeat customers. Their hopes are not ill-founded, considering the USD 2 billion logistics industry in India.

Boredom breeds an interesting startup

Maalgaadi Founders Anirudh Garg and Saurabh Raj – both chartered accountants and friends since college – found themselves thoroughly bored by their jobs in one year. Saurabh worked with IBM as a SAP consultant before joining his family business. Anirudh worked as Credit Manager with ICICI Bank.

“I joined my father’s business of supplying medical equipment to get some entrepreneurial kicks. My father often had to haggle with abusive loading truck drivers. Here was as an unorganised market, where prices varied, so people had to put up with the whims and fancies of the drivers. It was a jackpot,” says Saurabh, who hails from Chandigarh. The boys got to spend a month together in Gurgaon before deciding to bootstrap Maalgaadi from their savings. Their groundwork involved going from one driver to another in Sector F of Sanver Road area. Then came a door-to-door drill with pamphlets educating factory owners about the benefits. Their first cargo moved goods on January 19th 2015.

“Imagine how it feels to face failure within two days of the launch! We faced fierce opposition of driver unions backed by some local goons and politicians. We had to shut down our operations for two days,” says Anirudh. But this failure,too, turned out to be a great teacher. What followed was a gruelling process of visiting the police station, assuring the drivers and their leaders and using all their contacts possible to deal with political powers.

maalgaadi
Saurabh Raj (left) and Anirudh Garg

 

“We had been reading stories of how Uber had a history of bypassing laws. We wanted to set an exact opposite example. So we made it compulsory for drivers wishing to work with us to keep all their legal papers in place, and get a police verification within 10 days of approaching us,” says Saurabh.

The next step was to document the whole process of loading and carrying goods. Initially, they kept all the records in an Excel sheet. Then, they got a Hindi mobile application in place, which was easy to operate for drivers. The result was an almost seamless business model.

The moment an end-user places an order on the website, the nearest driver gets a notification. The user receives a message on his phone about the allotment of a driver. The website calculates the to-and-fro distance and price. The customer may choose to pay the driver on the pick-up or the drop-offspot, which is recorded by the driver on her phone by a click. The Maalgaadi team receives a complete record of the driver’s behavior, time taken to reach and deliver, the route taken, the detours and the delays and even low battery notifications.

Little wonder, thus, that soon, Maalgaadi found investors. It was a noted company in Indore called Moira Group, where Anirrudh had worked briefly. The three investors Vimal Todi, Pawan Singhania and Avinash Todi showed faith right from the day of the startup pitch.

And who are their competitors?

maalgaadi
how the driver records payment

“Quite a few. There’s Porter in Mumbai, Blowhorn and Shippr in Bengaluru and Gogovans in Hongkong. But those are the markets which are ready for a service like that. We have a plan of tapping unorganised markets in Tier- 3 cities that are unprepared. It’s challenging, ofcourse, but we believe in the thoroughness of our operations, the legalisation of our process and the confidence of our drivers,” shares Saurabh.

The drivers’ app and the social impact

Every Maalgaaadi driver gets a company tee as a uniform, a smartphone with a Hindi driver’s application and an orientation. The ‘dos’ in the behavior parameters include greeting the client respectfully while the ‘do-nots’ are no alcohol influence, chewing of tobacco or abusing. Drivers gets a regular monthly income throughout the year without the fear of off-season or low-business conditions.

“Our team of 18 drivers is now our extended family. They feel thrilled over the way they are treated by us and the customers. Their wives testify that the husbands have cut down on drinking and tobacco,” shares Saurabh.

“The driver meetings are the best. When we penalise some of them for bad behavior or delays, the money goes to the best performer of the month. Technology is their protector. Now the drivers don’t have to bribe traffic policemen anymore, since they have all their papers complete,” says Anirudh.

Maalgaadi has done this with two founders, three staff members and 18 drivers. The founders swear by Jordan Belfort’s statement:“The only thing standing between you and your goals is the bullsh*t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Webiste : www.maalgaadi.net

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