Cogoport bets on customer centricity to disrupt the logistics industryLibza Mannan
The Mumbai-based online logistics platform uses a complex algorithm to throw up the best ocean and air freight rates for customers, which allows them to compare prices and book shipments as well as track them, all at the click of a few buttons.
“Even though I was in the industry ecosystem for 22 odd years, I always had the feeling of not really being a part of this sub-set of large umbrella “logistics”. This inquisitiveness gave birth to several projects but the dire need to challenge and transform the ecosystem’s existing set of framework was the core idea behind starting Cogoport,” says Purnenedu Shekhar, Founder & CEO, Cogoport.
Indeed, one of the significant challenges facing the logistics industry is its opaque structure, which leads to added costs for customers as well as sub-optimal capacity utilisation for freight companies.
Launched in May 2016, Cogoport is an online international freight exchange that uses cutting-edge technology to make the most cost-effective match between exporters and importers on one hand and ocean and air freight carriers on the other.
The platform also enables price comparison for trucking, custom and inland docking charges. Technology-led solutions aimed at offering enhanced business experience are at the heart of the brand’s value proposition.
Marrying technology and logistics data, the platform’s complex algorithm takes into account millions of line items such as prices, transit times, vessel details for one lakh port pairs across the world and hundreds of suppliers, among other variables, to discover best freight rates for customers. By offering price comparison across players, the platform allows customers to compare rates and book shipment as well as track it at the click of a few buttons.
Cogoport has clocked an annual run rate of $10 million so far, with ocean freight accounting for 95 percent of it. During the same period, the company ’s has seen 9,000 containers shipped from its portal in addition to 2,500 truck moves.
Today, the brand has nearly 1,700 registered clients and is witnessing an average of 10 to 15 registrations every day.
The force behind Cogoport
For Cogoport, the challenges while starting out were no different from what most other startups faced, which included raising seed capital and getting the right team of hustlers on board.
Today, the brand is backed by a team of 50-plus members, with offices in Mumbai and Gujarat.
Though Purnendu started his entrepreneurial journey alone, he soon roped in Anurag Dabral, Kunal Rathod, Nishant Dalmia and Harsh Kumar to take Cogoport to newer heights. Anurag is an industry expert with expertise in sub domains of logistics like warehousing, distribution, strategy, M&A. Kunal is an ex-engineer and entrepreneur who has tried his hands in different businesses. Harsh is an ex-banker and Nishant has worked earlier with brands like Housing.com and Amazon.
Carving a niche in an age-old industry
According to ASSOCHAM, the global logistics market is currently estimated to be around $3.5 trillion. India spends around 14.4 percent of its GDP on logistics and transportation compared to less than 8 percent by the other developing countries. India’s freight transport market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.35 percent by 2020.
Considering the growth potential of the industry in the coming years, several small players such as Vamaship, Gocomet, Freightwala and Shipwaves have emerged in the logistics space. Established players, such as DHL, Keuhne Nagal and DB Shenkers are also locking horns with each other to stay ahead.
However, Cogoport is seeking to secure its foothold in the traditional industry with its strong focus on customer centricity.
“We want to do things not because we want to make a profitable business. We are driven by the pains of our customer and that's basically the soul of our organisation. Our core mission is to decentralise things for efficiency and use available resources in the ecosystem for best use of customers,” says Purnendu.
Plans for the future
The startup has had a seed infusion of $950,000 from a Singapore-based high net worth individual. Also, the brand has been certified under the Startup India initiative by the Government of India (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion) and is confident of leveraging the Make in India led initiatives and reap its benefits. With a commitment to give customers the solutions they want, Cogoport soon plans to scale pan-India, with a keen eye on markets in Europe and Asia.
“We are not focused on margins at this moment, we want to achieve scale and then we will trigger our revenue streams which will be largely from our suppliers’ commission, commission from banks and other financial institutions,” says Purnendu.