With the company’s revenues crossing $1.5 million, Meratask wishes to expand to other parts of the country soon.
After working in financial markets for 12 years, Piyush Tandon and Deepak Batra felt the itch to try their hand at something on their own. After working with companies like India Bulls and HDFC Securities the two friends in their late thirties decided to dabble with technology and take a shot at solving a real Indian problem, which is to deliver small items on the same day in the city. The idea was born out of their experience in handling cheques in their office. In the financial world, there often arises the need to get a cheque or a document collected or dropped off with clients. This task, which could easily be done in a day, gets delayed as they had to use courier services. “The current system is inefficient as it takes a long time for deliveries within the same city. Technology can solve this and we believe runner services can beat couriers within the city,” says Piyush, who went on to found Meratask, a runner service that allows the customer to order deliveries through an app.
The idea took root around November 2015 and the duo quit their jobs and immediately went about setting up the business. They started their website, Meratask, in January 2016 where most of the delivery bookings were done manually by their team. This model was not good to scale as a business and they had to bolster their business with the power of the mobile. In six months they built an Android and IOS app to make Meratask customers connect directly with the delivery boys. Today, the company is popular around the Delhi area.
“Clearly we were inspired by Uber and we started a delivery business on bikes,” says Piyush. They have a huge network of 1,000 bikers, called Taskers, who assist individuals and businesses to deliver in the Delhi-NCR region. People have used their services to send documents, files, laptops, pen drives, gifts and factory raw materials. The duo has currently invested Rs 50 lakh in the business and has a 30-member team.
The business model
“We modify our working model whenever there is a need and we are constantly learning how to charge customers,” says Piyush. The current number of registered clients is close to 8,000 and they have made more than one lakh deliveries over the last year-and-a-half. Currently, they make 120 deliveries a day. They charge the customer on a kilometre basis and the company’s revenues have crossed $1.5 million. With Delhi being a success they are evaluating an all-India launch by the end of the year.
The market is at least 100000 tasks a day, in cities such s Delhi, and Meratask wants to capture at least 15 percent of the market.
The company faces several challenges, finding quality manpower and scaling up the business being among them. Since it is a B2C business, the company requires a lot of money to spend on marketing.
The competition is also aplenty in such an industry as the barrier to entry is very low.
These platforms offer customer-friendly features like real-time tracking and online invoicing. Companies similar, albeit with slightly different delivery models, are LocalLegs, OyeThere, eCouriez. Done Things is perhaps the closest competition to Meratask. However, this Delhi-based startup focuses on delivering small items and specializes in reaching them efficiently to the customer. The cheque would be the best example for this company.
The company has started an advertising model out in the delivery system. “Our taskers can advertise products through the Meratask magazine. We, being a delivery company, meet hundreds of people at the pickup locations & drop locations, so we bridge a major gap between the advertisers & the consumers,” says Piyush, adding that the magazine, which carries all advertisements, is delivered to all locations free of cost.
The company also plans to tie up with several FMCG companies to provide free samples and coupons to customers. It claims that their magazine’s circulation is more than 5,000 in a month. So, Meratask is not just a delivery company but a platform for promotions too.
The Crisil pegs the local courier industry at $2.2 billion, dominated by the likes of Blue Dart and DHL. Startups in the runner services industry are a good acquisition target for large logistics companies looking to use on-the-go technology. But no acquisition has happened in this space so far other than Snapdeal acquiring a couple of logistics companies to improve delivery and reverse logistics.
However, this is a cash-intensive business and they will need to raise money constantly. “This field is very competitive and there are several companies that follow a similar model. But, if the company is able to make money and win market share then investors will follow to take big bets on them,” says V Ganpathy, CEO of Axilor Ventures.
For Piyush and Deepak, the real business begins now. They have to scale up fast to get the attention of investors and users.