“ One size fits all formula does not work in logistics tech”

Noida- headquartered FarEye is emerging as a major name in logistics technology space. The tech start-up has raised nearly $15 million during its short journey so far and agencies backing it financially also includes global logistics giant DHL. Ritwik Sinha speaks with Kushal Nahata, Founder & CEO, FarEye to get a sense of company’s growth journey, the USP of its major offerings and the broader trends in the industry on the technology adoption front vis-à-vis supply chain management of both logistics as well as the end-user industry. Edited excerpts…

 

What were those basic assumptions which led to the formation of this company?

We had started in 2013. At that time, e-commerce business had already become partly successful in several parts of the world. Amazon and Alibaba were cited as huge success stories globally and there were many companies in India who were raising funds. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that they will create robust e-commerce platforms in terms of offerings. The issue was: how do you ensure seamless logistics operations once the orders have been placed? There were already logistics companies operating on pan-Indian basis and they needed technological support to ensure smooth e-commerce operations. So we thought we can create a space of our own, not as disruptors but as enablers. Our core agenda was to make deliveries simple for all stakeholders in the value chain including consumers. We first created a mobile device system to do away with the complexities in the lives of the drivers. We then helped retailers in making correct decision in vendor selection vis-à-vis 3PLs by offering them suggestions based on micro-analysis of key parameters like postal coverage, pricing, etc. After initial years, we started getting a lot of data and it did the magic. This even helped in correcting a wrongly written address.

How would you explain your initial experience of dealing with the clients? Do you think a company like yours stepped in when a positive eco-system was evolving?

In the first year, we had to go out and tell the client what is the problem. Many a times they were not able to understand the problem. But eventually something critical happened which went in our favour. The customers of logistics companies started pushing them asking them to empower their offerings with real time visibility and other tech-based facilities. Logistics players started coming to us because they  realised the consequences of not adopting advanced technological solutions. We have two major products – FarEye Transportation and FarEye e-commerce. Transportation is primarily offered to manufacturing firms with the assurance of on-time delivery – from plant to ports and ports to warehouses.

How would you explain your clientele universe today?

We had started with 3PL companies – Blue Dart, First Flight, DHL, etc and this is the big chunk for us. Then we understood that the bigger business lies with manufacturers and shippers. We created the entire visibility and predictability product for them. Walmart, Landmark, Future Group, Tata Steel, etc are some of the other prominent clients with us today. We are also working with Johnson & Johnson in Singapore. On a cumulative basis, we have about 100 clients today. About 6 to 8 million shipments are picked and delivered every single day on our platform.

 A number of tech start-ups supporting supply chain operations have popped up in the recent past. How are you different from them?

There are USPs of each product. And some of them have value for each vertical of the industry. We have realised that in supply chain domain, one size fits all approach will not work. We took an approach wherein we have built our platform based on BPM (business process management). And ASPs in the world have been built on that. ASPs are extremely flexible and every business can adopt. We have created a platform which provides multiple solutions. We are operation and implementation platform and not simply Business Intelligence (BI) engines.

Since your inception, how much of funding you have raised so far?

In last three and a half years, we have gone for three rounds and have received about $14 million. Initially, we were focusing on e-commerce but now we are also actively working to improvise on our solutions for manufacturing firms. We find it a big ticket opportunity for us.

 Now the moot question: have you started making money? Or like most of the other start-ups you are burning cash to build scale?

We had started on a boot strap model. And, therefore,  we have been very cost sensitive. With funding support, we have gone on growth expansion. Let me tell you, we don’t sign any deal now which is filled with loss making apprehension. We only choose deals which could turn out to be a sustainable business for us.

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