Joining trucks and technology

As we move ahead in the New Year, our quest to identify and fund solid startups continues. 2015 was a watershed year for Equity Crest — we burnt the mid-night oil, walked that extra mile and closed deals in a very tough market. Deals like Happy2Refer showed investors’ faith in us, while JoyByNature demonstrated our ability to guide startups in a tough market towards fund-raise. Equity Crest is moving full steam ahead to make a positive difference in the Indian startup eco-system, and identify startups that hold potential to be next unicorns.

The latest startup we are helping fund-raise, is online logistics company Olog.

The problem of idle inventory affects most industries; and has caused much grief to businesses like airlines and modern retail. The current rush of investors towards asset-light businesses that rely on mobile and technology for doing business, is an indication of their sentiments towards asset-heavy businesses. Startups have disrupted many traditional areas through new ideas and use of technology, and now Olog is doing the same for truck owners.

Problem area

Olog solves the problem of idle inventory problem for truck owners in our country. Present problems plaguing the sector include — only 50% capacity utilization, restriction of transport within local geographies, lack of knowledge of loads in other networks and multi-layered brokerage systems. Truck owners hesitation to operate in newer geographies, further add to the woes.

Equally hassled are the customers, who are not sure of what is happening to their goods in transit. They are forced to place their orders 12-24 hours in advance, have no business analytics to refer to and are forced to rely on rudimentary methods of manual order placement.

Olog’s solution

As an online managed marketplace, Olog connects customers, truck owners and truck drivers on a single platform – solving all of the above problems. The platform provides intelligent market pricing and route optimization data, to help reduce logistics cost for customers. Truck owners get the following benefits on Olog :

  • Order status directly on app – reduces idle time
  • Flexibility to choose orders closest to unloading point
  • Transparent pricing
  • Opens newer geographies for operation

Customers’ set of benefits include:

  • Guaranteed end-to-end order fulfillment, unlike brokerage model
  • Single platform for ordering, tracking, delivery, billing & payment
  • Shortest lead time to placement < 4hrs
  • Complete business analytics – helps decision making
  • Cost effective

Olog currently operates from Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, and counts Samsung, Philips, Perfetti, Preethi Appliances and Urban Ladder amongst its customers. It is targeting to grow its monthly revenues 8x by December 2016 and is bullish about its prospects in the year ahead.

Olog relies heavily on technology to build efficiencies in its model. Customers can place orders through the web portal, which in turn is sent to vendors listed on the platform, who assign trucks to the order received. Customers have to pay in advance to process the order. Once payment is made, trucks are directly sent to client’s location, who then load the goods and get moving. Customers can check the movement of goods via Olog website, as well as on the Olog app (yet to be launched), get delivery reports of their consignment delivery and even get the delivery bill through email.

Competition review

The startup is up against names like Truck Mandi, Return Trucks and Truck Suvidha – all of whom have a listing platform and work on brokerage model. Due to no ownership of goods, these platforms are risky for companies wanting to transport high value consignments, whereas Olog takes ownership of the goods it transports as well as guarantees order fulfillment.

Olog is modeled on lines of Coyote Logistics, a US company founded in 2006, which grew in 10 years to become the largest truck aggregator in US — handling 6,000 shipments per day from 40,000 transportation providers and 14,000 customers.  With $2-billion revenue and 2000+ employee strength, Coyote was sold to UPS for $1.8 billion in 2015.

Team and funding

At present, Olog is raising funds to improve its technological capabilities, hire good quality talent and fund working capital requirements.

Vasant Immanuel, Jay and YSP Balraj are core team members behind Olog – all of whom have over a decade’s experience in supply chain, finance, marketing and law.

EQ View

There have seen many players trying to solve problems in the inter-city logistics space, and what we like about the Olog team is :

  • Demonstrated great traction, being bootstrapped thus far – very good capital efficiency
  • The team really knows what they are doing – they are supply chain professionals with relevant experience and functional competency required to build a great solution to the inter-city logistics problem.
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