This startup is using tech to capture its share of the vast intra-city logistics market
Ecommerce in India has truly transformed the way people shop. And along with it provided a fillip to other sectors as well, namely fintech and the logistics industry. But while deep-pocketed bigger players have access to logistics in a way that smaller players don’t, last-mile logistics is posing a great problem to solve. And this is where COGOS Technologies is making a difference.
The Bengaluru-based startup provides intra-city logistics solutions using tech, thus enabling truck vendors on one side and solving for businesses looking to have their cargo moved on the other.
A big problem plaguing the trucking industry is gross under-utilisation of assets. This coupled with inconsistent earnings and delayed payments renders the space ripe for tech intervention.
On the other hand, brands in traditional businesses lack the resources and wherewithal to have their own fleet or struggle to make use of them completely.
The founding story
COGOS aims to solve the gaps for both parties. With over one million deliveries done since it was founded in June 2016, the startup aggregates over 1,500 vehicles and claims to have served over 1,300 customers across 150 cities.
Prasad Sreeram, CEO and Co-founder of COGOS Technologies, says,
"City logistics is unpredictable with all its uncertainties with respect to availability of vehicles, price variations, and visibility. Shippers are losing billions of dollars in resources, reliability, and money, leaving them with zero leverage.”
Prasad is a serial entrepreneur who has 16 years of innovation experience from the Silicon Valley and has worked with startups like Prysm, Skyworks, and Scorpioze. He has expertise in vehicle tracking, mobile design, and innovation.
Co-founder and COO Rama Mohan Katta is a serial entrepreneur who has had more than 40 years’ experience in logistics and operations and has worked with the likes of IDPL, Regent, Paramount, and MyPharma.
The idea for COGOS has been on the minds of the founders for some time. After conducting extensive market research and spending optimal time understanding the emerging players and trends in the digitisation wave the country is witnessing, the startup was incorporated in Bengaluru in 2016.
It is a 55-member team at present.
How does it work?
COGOS is a logistics platform led by artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with mobile and control tower capabilities, where the product shipment will be as simple as book-track-deliver. Its delivery management system helps companies book, track, and manage movement of cargo.
The startup is building an operating system for logistics and the businesses can build applications on top of it, which gives them a fighting chance to compete with organised and large players. All the heavy lifting related to discovery, planning, scheduling, assigning, monitoring, and payments of the demand-supply is done by the team’s native operating system.
The platform is integrated with advanced sensors, IoT technology, and third-party applications in order to be in a position to uplift over four million truckers across the country. Additionally, it reduces the dependency on manual records and enables seamless entry and categorising of information to provide electronic proof of delivery.
Mid-2019, the startup raised $1 million in pre-Series A funding from Niraj Saran of Indian Angel Network (IAN), with participation from Emergent and other HNI investors. As part of the deal, Niraj joined the board at COGOS.
The funds are being used to optimise its current technological offerings, develop innovative and sustainable transportation solutions, and to strengthen its human resources.
Thanks to the vast experience the founders have the industry, they say they did not find much difficulty in acquiring initial customers. The startup claims to have grown multi-fold with a cumulative revenue of Rs 22 crore so far. COGOS follows an aggregator model for trucks, and sources the vehicles to its B2B users.
COGOS’ vision is to digitally transform the logistics industry and make it more efficient. Its focus, Prasad notes, is on creating technology tools to plan, schedule, and monitor the shipments for the customers and the fleet management tools for truckers.
“While there is a lot of work being done by many startups in the market for truck discovery, it is mostly in metros and Tier-I cities. There are no consolidated pan-India players for city logistics and we are bridging the gap there. Many corporations are looking for partnership with us for better utilisation of their assets,” Prasad notes.
The startup states that intra-city trucking in India is currently an unorganised market with around 85 percent of players comprising individual transporters. Against such a backdrop, with its tech-enabled services, COGOS Technologies is well-placed to disrupt the market worth $60 billion.
The larger logistics market in India is expected to touch $215 billion by the end of next year. Intracity logistics already has players like Tim Draper-backed Blowhorn, HipShip, Porter, and Gogovan. Recently, Hong Kong-based Lalamove made its India entry.
For the COGOS team, acquiring the right talent has been challenging currently.
“Deeply funded startups are paying exorbitant remunerations, but we now have a right mix of talent, and referrals have been highly helpful. We learnt that deep discounts don’t last forever and found good service levels to retain our customers,” says Prasad.
Moving forward, the startup aims to set a standard for global transportation system and wishes to reduce the current 14 percent GDP consumption on logistics by improving efficiencies with technology, process, and innovation.
The team’s aim is to expand its footprint in 100 more cities. COGOS is also set to introduce an e-cargo segment with a fleet of electric cargo vehicles.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)