For Bengaluru-based Chanda Agarwal, founder of preservative-free food e-tailer nopreservative.in, finding a commercial vehicle to transport products was always a nightmare. Costs were a concern and she was never able to find that one vendor or driver she could rely on. Her husband Sanjay Sharma, a senior executive at SAP, saw his wife’s daily struggle and discussed the problem with a few friends who handled logistics in various companies. He realised that they were also facing the same problem.
“When I did further research, I observed that the problem was not just one sided; vendors were also facing issues. They complained of unavailability of consignments and said their trucks were lying idle for half the month. I realised that there’s a huge demand and supply gap and it needs to be addressed,” says Sharma, Founder, Trucktransport.in.
Last December, Sanjay, 40, decided to build an online platform to connect truckers, and movers and packers, with customers in a simple, efficient and transparent manner. He spent the next few months speaking with transporters, vendors and end-users to understand their pain-points and issues.
In September 2015, Sanjay launched Trucktransport.in. The platform directly connects customers seeking trucks or movers and packers with verified vendors, while providing instant pricings, rating comparisons and booking options.
“We have developed an algorithm for service providers and provide dynamic pricings and ratings of various vendors so that customers can compare vendors and book the service instantly,” says Sanjay, who has a post graduate degree in Operation Management from Mumbai’s National Institute of Industrial Engineering.
The platform’s revenue comes from service charges, currently Rs 200, levied on each inter-city truck booking and movers-and-packers transaction. The firm does not levy any charge for intra-city truck bookings.
Trucktransport.in now has a 10-member team, spread across functions like finance, marketing, IT, and business development.
Since the launch of the platform, Trucktransport.in has partnered with four IT organisations and online retailers. He declined to disclose their names due to non-disclosure agreements signed with them. The platform claims to have more than 30 verified vendors listed with it and will soon begin operations in Delhi-NCR.
It claims to have over 150 booking per month and plans to reach 20 cities by 2018, when it will have an annual revenue of Rs 26 crore.
In October this year, the platform started its operations in Delhi-NCR. And by the second quarter of 2016, it plans to expand to Guwahati, Pune, and Chennai. It is targetting mandis (wholesale markets), individual retailers and online retailers. Currently, it is in talk with online retailers to provide its services at a pre-determined price. By the end of 2016, Sanjay plans to open up the platform in Rajasthan, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
Finding reliable vendors and drivers with proper licenses and permits is the biggest challenge. Sanjay, however, says that he’s very selective about vendors and gets them on the platform only after they have been verified.
Sanjay used his personal savings to set up the venture, using the funds to build the product and for market research. He is also in talks with some investors, but declined to reveal their names. “We don’t want just investments, but expertise and network too,” says Sanjay. He’s looking to raise $ 2 million.
According to Research and Markets, the Indian logistics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.17 per cent by 2020, driven by growth in manufacturing, retail, FMCG and e-commerce. The country spends around 14.4 per cent of its GDP on logistics and transportation compared with less than 8 per cent spent by other developing countries.
While the data clearly shows the market and opportunity for a player like Trucktransport is big, the company will have to contend with a growing list of competitors. These include Bengaluru-based Blowhorn, Shippr, LOTrucks, Zaicus, Instavans and theKarrier; Mumbai-based ThePorter and Quifers; Delhi-based truckmandi; and Vizag-based Return Trucks.
Many of these players have raised funding as well. In November last year, Blowhorn raised seed funding from Unitus Seed Fund. In May this year, theKarrier raised Rs 1.5 crore from Sol Primero, Outbox Ventures, and Nikunj Jain. In June, Shippr raised $500,000 from i2india Venture Factory. The same month, ThePorter raised Rs 35 crore in Series-A funding from Sequoia, Kae Capital, and other investors.
Sanjay is unfazed by the competition. He says other players are focussed only on one segment – mini trucks. He, however, is providing the entire range of services, which, he believes, gives him an advantage.
“Besides, we are quite positive about the progress we have made in the last few months. Our most important stakeholders, customers, and transporters find merit in our approach,” concludes Sanjay.