How this fleet management startup is using AI to transform the future of logistics
At a time when ‘digitise or die’ is the mantra, it’s surprising that logistics, the backbone of economies across the world, continues functioning with siloed legacy systems.
The story is the same in India, where a McKinsey report has stressed on the need for technological change, especially post-pandemic.
“Every business/customer we met was running opaque operations, with disconnected systems and no real-time, end-to-end visibility. Even if someone was using a basic vehicle tracking solution, it was working in silos. Almost 95 percent of the other operations were happening manually, with no actionable insights,” says Vineet Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Fleetx.
“That’s when we decided to launchwith the mission to digitise fleet and logistics operations to improve efficiency, enhance safety and, reduce costs.”
Launched in 2017 by Vineet Sharma and his Co-founders, Abhay Jeet Gupta, Udbhav Rai, Parveen Kataria, and Vishal Misra, Gurugram-based Fleetx is a freight automation platform that helps logistics stakeholders digitise end-to-end operations and provides real-time, actionable insights using IoT and analytics.
“When we entered this space, there were already 200+ companies in India doing something or the other in bits and pieces, but none of them were solving customer pain points. Telematics was broken, the data was not reliable, and no full-stack solution was available,” Vineet recalls.
“We identified the gap and used technology to build an advanced platform that helps customers run operations efficiently,” he says.
The fleet management startup collects data from physical assets on the road and different touch points but also helps them with actionable insights across operations.
Fleetx is presently working with 500+ mid/large clients, including Ultratech, Grasim, DTDC, SaintGobain, Suzuki Motors, Varun Beverages, Infra.market, Blinkit etc.
The team and USP
All the founders were part of the early team of travel startup ixigo and worked together for more than seven years before starting Fleetx.
IIT Roorkee graduate Vineet, who led the product and engineering team at ixigo, is the brain behind big data engineering of Fleetx and has built the big data processing pipeline for its products.
NIT graduates Abhay and Udbhav both handle Product and Engineering at Fleetx. Vishal heads sales at Fleetx while Praveen runs the finance, HR, legal and compliance, and operations departments.
Fleetx presently has a team of around 250+ people in various departments.
According to Vineet, freight automation is a strategic market globally with massive multiple outcomes. The technology penetration in the US and China is reaching around 30-40 percent, with companies such as Samsara, Geotab, Fleetmatics, Fourkites, Project 44, and Keeptruckin operating in this space.
“Companies were only focusing on trading the hardware and sensors; no one was focusing on solving the real challenges with the reams of available data for more actionable insights, accuracy, and reliability,” he says.
“We have always been a late entrant in whatever we have built so far but we always believe in building the best product after learning from our competitors' mistakes and gaps. We will continue to do the same even when we enter new geographies going forward.”
The startup’s clients claim to be pleased with the outcomes.
Shaurya Manish, Assistant General Manager-Fuel Planning Lead, UltraTech Cements, says, “Fleetx has helped us reduce coal theft by giving us timely anomaly alerts on high-risk trips.”
Funding and monetisation
Fleetx was launched with an initial investment of Rs 25 lakh from founders.
The startup raised $2.8 million in February 2020 in a Series A round led by Singapore-based BEENEXT alongside existing investor India Quotient. It secured $3.1 million in a pre-Series B round from existing investors, including BEENEXT and India Quotient, in October 2020.
This year, it received $19.4 million in a Series B funding round led by IndiaMart, with participation from existing investors.
“After the recent fund-raise, the idea is to grow in a sustainable manner, enhance our product leadership to the next level by continuing focus on customer-driven innovation, and improving our GTM capabilities in India and new geographies,” Vineet says.
The fleet management startup, which charges a recurring subscription fee, aims to close this year with “around 2.5X of FY21 in terms of revenue”.
The present and the future
According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global digital logistics market size is expected to grow from $17.4 billion in 2020 to $46.5 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7 percent during the forecast period.
In India, Fleetx competes with the likes of Loconav and Freight Tiger among others.
But the founders – already serving large customers in transportation, cement, steel, FMCG, mining, ecommerce etc — believe they are ready for more.
Vineet says Fleex’s ideal customer is in any industry, running physical logistics operations in a legacy manner with disconnect and siloed systems. They are “looking for digitisation to primarily improve efficiency and safety, and reduce logistics costs”.
“We believe our product is ready to compete globally as well and it is just a matter of identifying the right value proposition with the right GTM strategy in other geographies. We have started international evaluation in the last quarter and acquired a few customers to learn and understand the real pain points. We are currently evaluating the SEA, Middle East, and Africa markets and plan to evaluate the US market later this year,” Vineet says.