[Startup of the Day] When others failed, how this platform pulled ahead in crowdsourcing logistics business

20th Jul 2016
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Some years ago, a group of youth watched the slick action thriller 'The Transporters’, and embarked on a similar adventure, in real life. They laid the foundation of a crowdsourced delivery platform called mShipper, with different kind of rules.

Pune-Team

Serial entrepreneur Ranvijay Singh, CEO and Founder of mShipper, already had two successful ventures to his credit (Sicobe, a business consulting firm and LetmeRank, digital media brand) when he decided to take on deliveries. He also drew inspiration from new companies such as Shyp and Deliv (US) and Roadie (Atlanta).

Armed with five years of experience in business development and digital marketing segments, the commerce graduate from Delhi University launched mShipper in September 2015, envisioning making deliveries a hassle-free experience for small businesses, e-tailers and retailers in Delhi-NCR.

Leveraging on the idea of a shared economy, the platform takes on board willing individuals ‑ the shippers ‑ to pick and deliver packages on the go, allowing them to either save on their commuting cost or earn some extra income. They don’t just ensure delivery but believe in delivering in a more personalised way, are faster than others, and follow a ‘No Dry Run model’, hence no cash burns for the company.

Ranvijay says, “mShipper connects frequent intra-city commuters to SMEs/retailers for smoother, faster and economical order fulfilment. It leverages the power of technology to successfully manage its operational structure.”

While the platform’s range of operations is currently only in the NCR region and it’s not even been a year since the launch, Ranvijay says they have over 8,000 registered shippers, and 2,600 of them active shippers, 981 app downloads, 110 SMEs in network, and an average number of seven to 10 orders from SMEs in a day. The platform has shipped over 18,000 orders from mid-March to end June.

Their average shipping charge per delivery is Rs 100, and they get a whopping 400 orders a day. The platform earns average daily revenue at 20 percent of the delivery charge.

Putting in the dough

The team consists of 32 people including the four founding team members. The platform raised seed funding of Rs 50 lakh from Delhi-based angel investor HNI Vijai Laxmi in October 2015. The funds were put in product enhancement, advertising and extending operations in Delhi/NCR. They expect the next round of funds from the same investor by next month.

From left to right - Ramvijay Singh, Saurav and Kamlesh
From left to right - Ranvijay Singh, Saurav Sagar and Kamlesh Kr Chaurasiya

Ranvijay is helped in his platform’s affairs by Saurav Sagar, COO and Co-founder, Vishwa Bhaskar, CMO and Co-founder, Kamlesh Kr Chaurasiya, CFO, and Vishal Bhosale, CTO.

The startup counts among its clients Shudhbuy.com (Patanjali products’ wholesaler/retailer), Billionbody (health supplement e-tailer), Indianfeel.com (baby care products e-tailer), FoodCloud.in (HomeChef aggregator), and CCDSshop.com (which deals in decorative item/toys), while it lists Shadowfax, Opinio, Quickli, Grab.in and GoRush among its competitors.

Evaluating the market

According to a study named ‘Logistics Market in India 2015-2020’ by market researcher Novonous, the country’s logistics industry is worth $300 billion. The report further predicts this number to grow at a CAGR of 12.17 percent by 2020.

In the past one year, there has been a lot of investment in the logistics segment. Last year, Flipkart partnered with MapMyIndia, Blackbuck and Qikpod for their logistics services; Snapdeal invested $20 million in logistics player GoJavas, while Paytm invested $10 million in Loginext.

For e-commerce business, which is completely dependent on logistics, experts believe that innovation will be a key, with demands to reach farther and faster at low costs. This has caused bigger players in e-commerce to invest heavily in logistics and automation. Besides, we have also observed some experiment in the segment in the form of crowdsource.

“Crowdsourced delivery is not a market in itself, rather it’s a part of India’s hyperlocal business model which, according to Ken Research, is going to worth more than Rs 2,300 crore in the next four-five years,” says the founder.

In crowdsourcing segment, Roadrunnr, Shadowfax, and other logistics platforms have tried their hands. In 2013, Bengaluru-based DeliverWithMe also tried to follow this model, however, couldn’t pull up for a long and shutdown the business within a year’s time.

Is this experiment successful?

The most common question Ranvijay has to field is how come he has plotted success with mShipper at a time when many other crowdsourced delivery models have failed in India. To this, he says: “The crowdsourced delivery model might not have worked earlier but people are accepting it now.” He goes on to list the company’s key differentiators.

Apart from the crowdsourced network, shippers are available on hourly/daily basis, there’s ‘no delivery, no charge’ policy, no dry runs, and COD orders’ validation on behalf of SMEs to reduce unnecessary packaging and delivery charges, for the benefit of SMEs.

What sets mShipper apart, according to Ranvijay, is its recently launched LogHold value-added service for SMEs, which minimises charges such as return-to-origin in case of non-delivery. “We are also introducing doorstep debit/credit, net banking payment system, either with a customised PayU application or Ruplee,” he says.

Adding to that he says, “We have integrated a customised Knowlarity application to serve even those shippers who don't have access to smartphones, but are willing to participate in the mShipper revolution and make a living out of it. Some of our shippers actually deliver on bicycles”.

Coming next: mRider

The platform is set to roll out new offerings to motivate its shippers and even plans to use the same network of individuals to roll out bike ride booking services under the name ‘mRider’, probably by next month.

Ranvijay says, “Currently, we are undertaking on-demand same day deliveries at competitive pricing, but soon we will route ourselves to next day or scheduled deliveries at more challenging rates, compared to even couriers, and this will help us serve e-commerce giants,” adding that “we are already in conversation with some of the biggies in the market”.

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