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Changing the Business Pattern is Innovation

Amit Tyagi

Inspired by the high-gear drive of app-based cab aggregators, Ankit Singh, Anurag jain and Nishant singh decided to start Truckmandi. It is a marketplace for trucks, where transporters and vehicle owners can directly connect to businesses and customers who need their services. Born in an era of the call-centre boom, its trucks are hailed mainly by call and aggregated on upfront payment by the driver each month, a model the new-age players gave a wide berth to enable quicker aggregation. To catch up with competition, Truckmandi has cut charges and offers discount on the basis of number of orders that stream in through its app.

The cargo transport venture has done away with the subscription method Truckmandi follows in the taxi space. Commercial vehicle owners need not pay a charge each month to receive orders from Truckmandi or part with a portion of earnings from transport.

In an interaction with Employment News Ankit Singh, one of the founders of Truckmandi said, “We wanted to venture into commercial vehicle space because we saw it as how the taxis were back in the early 2000s - hugely unorganized. The drivers do not even operate every day. They have their vehicles waiting outside retail shops just waiting for business".

Once during a conversation with Amit Saraogi, Chairman CII (Agriculture- Eastern), the owner of Anmol Feeds, Ankit discovered that most businesses were plagued with several logistic problems. The middle men, many believed, disconnected them from the market. Irregularities and delays seemed like the common problem faced by many.

The son of a trucker, Ankit Singh had seen his father lose money due to untimely payments by middlemen who managed transporters. Years later, during a conversation with CII chairman Amit Saraogi, he realized the sector was still facing the same problems. “Almost `10 lakh rupees were spent on logistics every day. This could have been reduced with technology,“ he says The IIT-Kharagpur alumnus quit his product management role at Snapdeal in early 2015 and teamed up with friends Anurag Jain and Nishant Singh to start Truckmandi. It eliminates the intermediary bringing transporters and truck owners together and gives them better pricing and real-time tracking options. Truckmandi, with a fleet size of 5,000 trucks, is operational in Delhi NCR and Chandigarh and sees close to 25 transactions a day.

The catch is the pricing - truck drivers find Truckmandi's rates low. However, the company is engaging with them to push the concept that frequent rides in a day will earn them more than the occasional and the high-priced, the exact same idea that cab aggregators are now telling auto rickshaw owners to get them on board. Here are some excerpts of the conversation:

What is your motto?

That truth will win. 

What lessons did you learn during your entrepreneurship journey?

All this was, due to lack of a common platform where customers could connect with service providers. Thus was born the idea of ‘TruckMandi’. It aims to bridge the gap between customers and direct service providers while solving the current market problems and organizing the transportation sector. What doesn't scale does not scale. Work scientifically and a great business will be built. 

If you were to do (some venture) again, what would you do differently?

I would still do Truckmandi. I would hire lesser people. 

How did you get credibility?

With the help of Truthfulness. In this business, it is very difficult to follow the things on time and charge the rate correctly. 

How did you develop key partnerships?

Proposing them appropriate solutions. The team has a monthly transaction run rate value of one crore, which is growing at the rate of more than 400 per cent. They are based out of Delhi-NCR, and are operational over routes in Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan. We currently have 500 partner companies using our technology, and 300 partner transporters/truck owners.

How did you get funded or what strategies did you use to execute on minimal cash flow?

Funding was through mentors and people who loved the space and us.

What habits helped make you successful?

Still looking for success. This industry is unorganized and unstructured. Thus, every problem the team saw was the result of five other problems, and all these were interlinked. Major problems are educating the transporter community about the use of technology.

What kind of mindset helped you in making successful?

A problem and puzzle-solving attitude with passion to serve. Our biggest problem, which we never really considered major, is the pervasive corruption that plagues this industry. In every company we talk to, be it an MNC or a small corporation, everyone involved in the company’s logistics makes some kind of commission through bribes and favours from those to whom they provide the final business. It is very hard to find people and companies who accept this technology as this removes such leakages from the system, but we take this as another challenge and resolve to keep the wheels rolling,”

How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?

By being lean. 

What was your biggest mistake?

Setting expectations. Major problems are good quality service from transporters, complete visibility of transactions, and availability of good drivers.