Using AI and ML, this Gurugram startup is driving efficiency in the logistics industry
Managing supply chain is one of the biggest technological opportunities in the world. The potential to disrupt inefficiencies using innovations has led several startups, especially in India, to rise to the challenge.
GoBOLT, a Gurugram-based tech startup, was founded in late 2015, to take on the mammoth and unorganised logistics industry in India.
Founders Sumit Sharma, Parag Aggarwal, Naitik Baghlaall come from corporate backgrounds, having worked in companies like Ernst & Young, J M Financial, GSK, and Tata Motors.
The idea for GoBOLT was born during Sumit's travels, while travelling to developed economies like the US and Canada, where asset utilisation in the trucking industry is very high. These observations gave him an insight into how the problem of asset utilisation in the Indian trucking scene can be improved.
Ripe for disruption
"The Indian logistics industry is worth $200 billion. As huge as this potential is, even bigger are the inefficiencies and commensurate opportunities. Nearly 70 percent of the market is fragmented, comprising small freight operators who own a small fleet of one to five trucks. They are dependent upon local brokers for getting freight on a daily basis," says Sumit, the 34-year-old co-founder of GoBolt.
This reliance on brokers leads to multiple issues for small freight operators, who lose money to them as they add no value. Additionally, a lack of demand visibility results in low asset utilisation. Further, the entire logistics industry is plagued by a lack of professionalism, which typically leads to shoddy customer service. Lastly, the non-existence of technology exacerbates the lack of transparency in the value chain.
All these factors render India’s logistics spend at 13 percent of GDP, whereas more efficient economies spend only about 6-8 percent of their GDP on logistics. And GoBOLT aims at removing these inefficiencies through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning-based technology innovations.
"We provide technology and logistics solutions in supply chain management, from ‘design to deliver’ covering transportation, warehousing, and supply chain planning," says Sumit.
Sumit leads finance, compliance/legal, business development, and marketing/branding at GoBOLT. He began his career with Ernst & Young (EY) in 2008, followed by a stint at JM Financial from 2013. Sumit is a BTech graduate from Delhi College of Engineering, and holds an MBA from SP Jain, Mumbai. He is a FICCI core group member for development of a ‘Roadmap for Decarburisation of the Transport Sector in India by 2050’, providing India context to the Global Roadmap under the Paris Process on Mobility & Climate (PPMC).
Sumit and Parag have known each other for 15 years now. They were batchmates - both at under-graduation and post-graduation. Parag and Naitik (both 34-years-of-age) worked together at GSK Consumer before starting up with GoBOLT. All three co-founders share responsibilities in technology.
The trio now strives to provide transportation, warehousing, and supply chain technology solutions to companies across industry types and revenue size. They work pan India, with a major focus on the North, West, and South corridors of India. Their industry type exposure ranges from FMCG, ecommerce, liquor, tyre manufacturing, furniture, and waste management firms.
At the centre of all the projects run by the startup is a SaaS-based logistics management system, called Launchpad. The product is a logistics platform providing a framework to run owned and marketplace fleets in order to achieve high asset utilisation, efficiency, and scale.
Their first client in late 2015, Sumit claims, is one of the biggest MNC shoes, clothing, and accessories manufacturer looking for vehicle and dispatch optimisation from their supplier’s factory in Uttarakhand.
"We seized that opportunity, and after a month of study at the factory and local transportation market, came up with an effective solution, which reduced their logistics cost by 10 percent. Hence, we landed our first contract, the first truck on GoBOLT’s platform was moved from Dehradun to Delhi NCR," says Sumit.
GoBOLT competes with the likes of Lobb and FreightBro.
"We heavily differentiate from our competitors (both traditional transporters and the new-age startups) in use of technology and disruptive business processes. We have built a cloud-based platform having a modular framework where various modules manage different entities and operations in the system, like customer management, marketplace (brokers, market vehicles, drivers etc.) management, our own fleet and driver management, hub management, trip management, finance management, etc," Sumit explains.
The founders bootstrapped the business with less than Rs 50 lakh. GoBOLT then raised Rs 40 crore from Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group’s Aavishkaar Bharat Fund in September 2018.
Of challenges and overcoming them
The startup today has 40 customers with anannualised run rate of Rs 250 crore. Its business model is to work on a per-load basis with clients whenever the app is used.
Initially, getting transporters on board was the biggest challenge due to the fragmented market’s heavy reliance on brokers. Additionally, technology adaptation posed a big challenge, both on the vendor and customer side.
"We had rolled out the customer mobile application as well as transporter/vendor mobile application. Getting the transporters/drivers to start using technology was a difficult task, but slowly and steadily we have achieved deep technology penetration in the industry and reaped the benefit of data flow," says Sumit.
As far as immediate plans go, the startup wants to increase its footprint on more sectors in India. It also wants to increase its revenue by 3x in the next 18 months.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)