How this duo launched a startup to guide over 50 companies towards supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility is the ability to track goods in transit. And in the age of ecommerce, a raging pandemic, and even the odd Suez Canal blockage, high supply chain visibility is the order of the day.
Alok Sharma and Novita Sharma, founders of NebulARC, launched a data-driven supply chain platform, with the aim of bringing some order into the Indian logistics market.
The Bengaluru-based startup provides customers with data-driven predictive decision-making, automation via AI, and personalised experiences, while taking control of their assets.
From the start of their journey, until the final destination, the startup creates visibility in the supply chain through comprehensive Asset Lifecycle Management.
"Companies were facing approximately 14 percent losses owing to inefficiencies in the supply chain. There was a lack of real-time visibility of goods and assets at every step of the supply chain. Enterprises were also relying on old technologies like RFID, Mobile GPS location, etc., for their supply chain operations because of which the market witnessed millions of losses across pilferage and spoilage, wrong binning, and inefficient forecasting. At NebulARC, we have committed ourselves to solve these challenges and bring excellence in the market," says Alok.
The early days
The duo started the company in the year 2018, and their core team comprised of alumni from Stanford, BITS Pilani, and IIT Bombay.
Today, NebulARC enables enterprises across industries like pharma, agriculture, retail, warehousing, manufacturing, and the logistics space with 50 customers.
Both founders have over 25 years of extensive experience in leading pre-sales, sales, and technology teams across Europe, APAC, and India. Alok worked across diverse industries and has performed key roles in prestigious companies like Megasoft Consultants Ltd, Polaris Software Lab, Steria, IBS Software Services, Indus Towers Limited, and TEOCO.
Novita Sharma, co-founder and Finance Head at NebulARC, has a strong track record and over 17 years of work experience in leading Finance teams in India and Europe. She has worked for Max New York and a startup.
Explaining how the product works, Alok says it creates predictive supply chain visibility and equips enterprises with an automated virtual assistant that leverages the power of AI to help the companies to automate the entire supply chain and make supply chain management actually smarter.
“The most interesting piece of our story has been our first contract from a telecom giant and working for the Indian defense forces," adds Alok.
In 2018, Alok and Novita showcased their product at a technology exhibition where they connected with a few telecom companies in India who wanted digital supply chain optimisation needs for their customer – the Indian defence force. They were satisfied by the product's capabilities and gave them the use case that needed to be solved. The startup was then engaged in a two-month-long customised POC deployment.
"It was a roller coaster ride as there were other vendors also bidding for the same contract. But our technology prowess, perseverance, and patience paid fruits when in Jan 2019, we were able to bag this prestigious contract for 11 years for its pan-India operations.”
Explaining how their functioning is different, Alok says,
“We ensure profitable supply chains by providing IoT and AI-based analytics for predictive decision making. With our unique technology, we provide complete supply chain visibility for physical assets that are either, in transit, stationary, or operational via comprehensive asset lifecycle management," says Alok.
There are different companies operating in the same domain. This includes companies such as FarEye and Loginext that are solving part of the overall problem like last-mile delivery for both B2B and B2C segments. However, apart from providing last-mile solutions, NebulArc has created a one-stop-shop for its clients with solutions catering to their varied needs, from vendor assessment and optimisation, to order fill rate analytics, inventory optimisation, signature and traceability of high value assets, freshness and shelf life management for perishables, effective route planning, to location tracking in real-time.
The founders have invested a total of Rs 2.5 crore of their own money till now. The investments majorly focus on product R&D.
The business model
NebulARC partners with customers in the digitisation of their supply chains, and charges the client a portion of the savings made. These are usually done on a SaaS basis and as per the physical asset used to monitor across the asset’s lifecycle. The monthly fees comprises of the hardware usage and software deployment. If the client is willing to purchase the hardware upfront, the company enables that too within the monthly fees, and only then will they bring in the software subscription per physical asset basis.
In-container tracking in the ocean was a challenge due to the non-availability of communication mediums and extreme environment challenges, which the startup overcame through iteration and R&D efforts for re-calibrating their IoT devices.
In terms of business, NebulARC is at an execution phase with an eye on clocking revenues of around $5 million in the next 18 months. At present, it is focusing on sectors like logistics and shipping ports, cold chain especially Pharma/Medical Devices, and agriculture.
The startup is now in talks for its seed round and plans to raise a Series A round in the next 12 months. "We will use these funds to expand our base around India, and lay the foundation for expanding to MENA/SEA within the next 18 months," says Alok.
"We have enabled enterprises to achieve massive reductions in their operational costs while also providing them with detailed new possibilities to generate revenue via optimal usage of their supply chains," says Alok.
To date, its revenues are $400K, and the startup believes it will close its book at $1 million in revenues in FY 2022.