How Dell Startup Challenge finalist, CargoFL, is digitizing India’s trucking community and empowering logistics SMBs

The Dell Startup Challenge is a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to the market, get exposure, and win prizes. The third season of the challenge saw participation from over 500 startups, with CargoFL, a cloud-based SaaS ecosystem for logistics, selected as one of four finalists.
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The road transport sector of India is among the most critical sectors in the country, as it contributes eight percent of the country’s GDP. The sector is also one of the highest employment generators as it supports up to 20 crore people in India.

It is also, quite unfortunately, highly unorganised, fragmented and underserved with just five to six percent of truckers having adopted technology solutions. The All India Motor Transport Congress, a body representing 9.3 million truckers, revealed that 85 percent of the transport community comprises small operators with one to five trucks. This, of course, spells out a huge opportunity in organising the market through technology.

Empowering micro-businesses in the transport sector with technology

CargoFL was formed to enable and empower micro business owners with technology in the transport sector. It set out to solve two major problem areas in the trucking sector. Firstly, the lack of digitisation of transactions among the trucking community as paper and verbal processes are still common in trucking space across the world. Secondly, the digital divide between the shippers (customers) and truckers leads to collaboration inefficiencies between them, around 35 to 40 percent of the time is spent on inefficient communication between the two. CargoFL’s logistics enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is essentially a combination of two platforms: a shipper platform that enables shippers with technology and a trucker ERP platform that helps transporters to go digital.

With several players solving for the logistics space, CargoFL decided to keep ERP at its core and stay transporter (trucker) focussed so as to differentiate from its competitors who were more customer (shipper) focussed. They believe that truckers are at the very core of the logistics ecosystem, and that bringing them onto a technology platform is key to getting logistics organised. They believe that doing this would open up a pathway to further digital transformation for the logistics ecosystem from within.

Starting up, pivoting and scaling

CargoFL started off as a simple ERP platform for full truck load (FTL) in 2017, and subsequently evolved into a complete logistics ecosystem. The company began by building an ERP for transporters in July 2017. With transporters not keen on paying for an ERP product, they launched a marketplace product called Trucklo, which earned them a revenue of Rs 1.5 crore with a positive margin of 12.3 percent. They simultaneously built their ERP product, CargoFL Trucker, and soon had over 25+ transporters using the web and mobile ERP platform. By mid-2019, they pitched CargoFL to a Fortune 500 company looking for dispatch management software to automate their dispatch processes and trucking vendors, and thereafter launched CargoFL Dispatch for Shippers. By August 2019, they ramped down marketplace operations (even though it was revenue positive) in order to focus on a technology-based scaling model called CargoFL Trucker and CargoFL Dispatch. This culminated in the launch of CargoFL RTMS​ - a Road Transport Management System (RTMS) for Public Transport, launched in May 2020.

Today the startup prides itself in having over seven corporates (shippers) and over 65+ truckers on the CargoFL Platform with a growing total vehicle base of over 3,000+ trucks and over 3,500+ drivers.

Meet the founders

CargoFL was founded by veterans in the industry. Deepesh Kuruppath, the Co-founder and CEO, is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience. Deepesh also has a US Patent for Code Accelerator, a technology and process framework that helps organisations migrate from one tech stack to another. At CargoFL, he is responsible for the overall strategy, product roadmap, business development and customer success.

Geeta Bora, the Co-founder & CTO, has over 17 years of advanced technology experience. A PhD holder in Computer Science, she is a specialist in the development of highly scalable applications that include workflows, scalable datasets and databases.

Deploying technology to digitally transform the logistics industry at scale

At its very core, CargoFL is a technology startup. They believe that technology can enable truckers across the world to become process-driven, thereby adding value to the overall supply chain ecosystem.

“Technology should be easy, simple, consumable and revenue-generating. At the same time, it should be democratic, accessible and reachable to all. We want to bring technology to every small, medium and large logistics business. How can tech be the growth factor? How can it be used to generate more revenue, gain business traction, reduce operational costs, and ensure work-life balance for these transporters? These are the questions that inspire us from deep within, and seeking their answers is the inspiration that drives CargoFL,” said Deepesh.

On being finalists at the Dell Startup Challenge 2019

Prior to being selected as a finalist in the Dell Startup Challenge, CargoFL was awarded as one of the fastest-growing startups in Pune by the Startup Master Class (SMC) program in September 2019. The startup has also been selected as the top 11 startups by the Microsoft Incubation (EmergeX) program in Maharashtra from a cohort of 140.

“The Dell Startup Challenge was about exhibiting how CargoFL is well set to scale using partner technologies like Dell. We are super excited to be a finalist in the Dell Startup Challenge. As a startup, we have always focussed on our customers and the quality of deliverables. Becoming a finalist of the Dell Startup Challenge is a testament to the amazing work happening at CargoFL and the effort that’s been put by the team to make things happen.” said Deepesh.

CargoFL currently leverages Dell laptops for software development and looks forward to exploring Dell from a startup offering perspective and partnering with them to scale.

Onwards and upwards

The startup observed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, truckers are beginning to realise the importance of going digital, and they have started adopting CargoFL much faster.

“Our current goal is to expand internationally this year i.e. explore how CargoFL can expand across countries such as the UK, Canada, Dubai and USA. With markets well set in India, we believe the product has the potential to scale internationally and deliver quality results. From a long-term perspective, we would like to evolve into an ecosystem of products and become a play store for logistics technology apps where transporters can pick and choose for their needs.,” said Deepesh, signing off.

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