Every person who has to shift houses nervously watches the movers like a hawk, hoping they don’t break anything that is expensive or sentimental. What can only be more stressful than packing all your temporal possessions into neat little boxes, is finding someone trustworthy to transport them to your new home. Three friends imagined it to be done in a few simple steps, just like booking a cab or ordering your groceries.
Hyderabad-based TruckSumo was set up by Nithin Baalay, Arun Rao and Abhishek Bajpai to organise the intra-city transportation problem. The startup is an aggregator of mini-trucks and connects businesses having local logistics needs in real-time with service providers who can fulfill those needs. The trio want to rewire the intra-city logistics sector with their venture.
They decided to create a marketplace with standardised pricing and hassle-free experience backed by solid technology. The marketplace has both the business that has an on-demand requirement for transportation, and the mini-truck owner-cum-driver, who is an entrepreneur himself, ready to go that extra mile.
The team mix
“Although the stakes were high, we felt it was a huge opportunity. And in the new age where businesses are going customer-centric and on-demand, we wanted to apply the same to logistics and give customers a brand new experience of moving goods,” says 30-year-old Nithin.
Arun is an engineer by education and marketer by profession. He has led the sales teams at Google across US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand markets. He brings in extensive startup operations experience to the field.
Abhishek has done his Masters in Electrical Engineering at San Jose State University, US. He was previously running the family business that owns 16 warehouses and, therefore, has deep experience in third-party logistics and transportation.
Nithin has a Masters in Computer Science from Columbia University, US. He has been an entrepreneur, CTO at BuyThePrice.com, a Naspers-funded e-commerce company, Managing Director at India.com, and has worked in the US for the World Media Group.
The workings of the product
TruckSumo’s biggest USP is that it takes 45 seconds to make a booking and 45 minutes to get a complete transportation solution at your doorstep. The company claims they are 40 per cent cheaper than other alternatives available in the market.
Quite similar to the Uber app, the TruckSumo’s customer-facing app is in Beta mode now and will launch in the PlayStore in the coming month. Most orders come via phone and the interactive voice responsive (IVR) technology helps the startup automate a lot of processes.
“We work with anyone who wants to move goods from point A to point B, be it an individual or a small business or a large one. You can avail our services at the touch of a button. We are also working with some of the most trusted and biggest brands in India for their logistics needs,” says Nithin.
On the driver front, the team says it has the ability to run TruckSumo efficiently using a basic phone or a smart one. The vehicles are fitted with a GPS device.
Testing the market
“We got our operations right during our test launch. We then went ahead and built a solid tech product from all the feedback and learnings,” says Nithin.
TruckSumo went live in March 2015 in Hyderabad and operated on stealth mode right after. It expanded to Bengaluru two months later. TruckSumo plans to be operational in six cities this year.
“Our dream is to put a TruckSumo-powered device in all SMEs to enable access to these services at the touch of a button,” adds Nithin.
TruckSumo is a YourStory TechSparks Top 30 2015 finalist, IBM SmartCamp 2016 Top 15 finalist and Aditya Birla BizLabs finalist.
The team is bootstrapped and is looking for funding. They are experimenting with a bunch of features like part-load aggregation of orders, bike aggregation, order broadcasting, reverse auction model, long-distance and larger fleet vehicles, plugging into bigger ERPs, integration with eCommerce websites to provide real-time quotes and tracking. Nithin says they are currently doing 17,000 orders in a month and have onboarded 900 customers.
It is no surprise that several players are looking to ‘Uber-ise’ the intra-city on-demand logistics segment. Roadway logistics is a $150 -billion industry in India, of which $30 billion is from last-mile delivery.
If you look at its urban split, the market size is estimated to be around $10-12 billion. Many believe that if aggregators can solve urban commute problems, the same model could be used to solve the overload of trucks and unorganised intra-city logistics.
The other players in the space include ThePorter, Shipr and Blowhorn. Blowhorn raised seed funding from Unitus. TheKarrier raised Rs 1.5 crore from Sol Primero in May 2015. The market, however, is in its nascent stages and is yet to pick up.