Ankit Singh, 26, thrives on fixing problems. In October 2014, during an interaction with Amit Saraogi, owner of feed manufacturing company Anmol Feeds and chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry's agricultural division, Singh discovered that manufacturing companies were losing money because of India's unreliable logistics.
"Saraogi said that about one lakh crore rupees could be saved by bringing in better transparency and negotiations in logistics,” says Singh, an engineering graduate from IIT Kharagpur who worked in Russia and the Gulf for oilfield services and equipment company Schlumberger before joining e-commerce giant Snapdeal. “At Schlumberger, we were always moving rigs and trucks. In India, I felt there was a communications problem,” he says.
For the next few months, Ankit and his flatmates—IIT batchmate Nishant Singh, who redesigned Snapdeal's mobile app, and Anurag Jain, an IIT Delhi graduate who helped Snapdeal scale up its technology platform from handling thousands of visitors per day to handling millions—brainstormed to find solutions for the existing problems in the logistics industry.
In March 2015, the trio created Truckmandi, a platform that provides trucking services to companies. Five other youngsters joined them to form a core team and by the end of the year, the platform had serviced more than 500 small and medium enterprises as well as large corporations, and was operating from four offices in Delhi, Ludhiana, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The annual turnover of India's trucking industry is 06 lakh crore. “The biggest challenges in this industry are unprofessional behaviour, improper communication and lack of standardisation and efficiency,” says Singh. Truckmandi aims to provide efficient logistics by addressing these issues. “Our cost of acquiring the customer is probably twice that of any other e-commerce player,” says Singh. “But once introduced to the service, our customers continue with it for a longer period.”
Following an inquiry from a client that requires logistics services, Truckmandi runs a check among the 1,200 trucks registered on its platform to see who would be willing to service the client. It then communicates the rates applicable for the movement of goods and ensures that the truck reaches the pick-up and final destinations on time. A GPS locator on each truck provides the exact location of the vehicle at any time.
“We consciously do not have any office boys,” says Singh, explaining the work culture at the startup, which has 25 employees at its office in Delhi. “It is self-service inside the office. A person who approached us for an office-boy job was given training and we now employ him as a computer data operator. Even though he is only newly initiated to computers, he manages to type faster than many of us.”
Breaking into the largely unorganised trucking industry has not been easy for Truckmandi. It has burnt its fingers over commitments not being met by truck drivers, despite an advance of more than 60 per cent being paid by the client. It is now working on tying up with financiers to pay advances for trips booked on its platform, and also striking deals with trucking companies to get better rates for its clients. “We are constantly solving problems arising on the supply side of trucks,” says Jain, head of operations at Truckmandi. “We are now working on becoming the biggest convergent of trucking supply and demand. We want truck drivers or owners talking to companies via our platform.”
The startup is likely to achieve a turnover of 010 crore by the end of the fiscal year. It currently connects 200 locations, mostly in Delhi and other parts of north India. Next year, it plans to expand its operations to west and south India, where manufacturing is on an upswing. Says Singh: “By next year, we want to be the Uber or Ola of the trucking world.”
A truck driver deserted the truck and consignment and we had to dip into our pockets to reach the client's goods to their destination
A childhood dream
Like many children, it always changed
On your speed dial
My business development head and other teammates. Also, my mentor Ritesh Dwivedi
A three-room flat in Kalkaji, Delhi
Top on to-do list
See transactions from the previous day, tackle pending problems, and nourish a good work culture