“Mobile phones have been a key enabler in the global logistics operations today”

Two IIT graduates, Karan Shaha and Vikas Chandrawat, embarked on a mission in 2016 to digitally transform the logistics business in India after working on the ground level and running a transport company. During the three years of running their transport venture, they interacted with over 1,000 transport companies and lorry owners. They faced several challenges when it came to booking trucks for transportation, and the absence of an organized market made matters worse.  They also understood that the huge trust gap in the logistics space had an adverse impact on the business generation abilities of transporters, agents and vehicle owners.

This hands-on experience and the deep insight they gained about the core problems faced by the industry led to the inception of Vahak – an online transport marketplace and networking community of truck owners, transporters and consignors – in 2019. Built on the back of cutting-edge technology, Vahak enables customers to directly connect with trusted transporters and truck owners across India and book trucks, trailers, and loads on shared vehicles etc. Ramesh Kumar Raja caught up with Karan Shaha, Co-founder and CEO of Vahak, to know more about the platform and the services it provides. Excerpts:

How have mobile phones brought about a sort of revolution in the logistics sector?

Mobile phones have been a key enabler in the global logistics operations today. They first transformed visibility by offering round-the-clock connectivity with the vehicle on the move. Today, the smartphone apps have completely changed the way services and processes are run. Turn-by-turn navigation by Google Maps was the next change and now, we have apps like the one offered by Vahak providing end-to-end logistics services and support through mobile phones. There is no need to carry loads of paperwork as documents are digitized and can be easily presented and shared online wherever needed. Transporters as well as the shippers can use their smartphones to find each other, communicate, strike a deal, make payments and do other relevant tasks using the mobile phones with complete visibility of the operations in real-time.

What makes Vahak different from others? How are you making the best use of your mobile app?

Vahak is a one-of-its kind platform in the Indian market. It is a fully technology-driven online road transport marketplace. Our aim is to transform the way logistics operations are run in India by streamlining the services and offering standardization. Vahak enables shippers, transporters and truck owners to interact on the platform, and facilitates booking of trucks, trailers and loads across the country.

Vahak’s speciality is that it not only offers business, but also helps transporters build an online brand for themselves, generate leads, and increase their revenue. It is a user-friendly marketplace where users can quickly make bookings at best prices. Vahak provides access to lakhs of transporters and vehicle owners that are verified. Thus, it eliminates the trust gap which has so far adversely impacted the growth of the logistics market in India.

“Vahak is a one-of-its kind platform in the Indian market. It is a fully technology-driven online road transport marketplace. Our aim is to transform the way logistics operations are run in India by streamlining the services and offering standardization. Vahak enables shippers, transporters and truck owners to interact on the platform, and facilitates booking of trucks, trailers and loads across the country”

Please tell us about the unique features of Vahak app and the convenience that it offers.

The Vahak app is a cutting-edge and feature rich platform, unavailable prior to this in the Indian logistics sector. For instance, it provides access to lakhs of transporters and vehicle owners (verified), and allows them to get qualified leads. The app enables them to build their brand online, and increase revenue by up to 40% by ensuring that the vehicles remain on road for more days compared to the conventional offline business methods. For shippers, Vahak offers the opportunity of building a personal pan-India delivery network by offering access to lakhs of verified transporters. The app can reduce load booking time by up to 90%. There is a safe, secure and transparent bidding process for loads, and the usage of the app is 100% free of commission and fees, making it a unique platform.

How many installs it has accumulated till date and when will you land on Apple’s App Store?

We have accumulated more than 1.2 million installs till now and in the next 6 months, we will launch on the App Store as well.

What is your monetization model and how do you keep updating?

We are launching multiple value added services on our platform like the purchase of fuel, Insurance, Fastags, etc in the coming few months. In the long term, we intend to provide financial services to the transport community based on the data we are collecting on our platform.

How safe and secure is your platform?

The platform is designed to build trust and facilitate easy transactions. Vahak users undergo document verification like Aadhar, GST verification, etc. We are also incorporating services like insurance and Escrows to further safeguard the transactions and payments. Further, our platform uses cutting-edge technology to secure the collected data to safeguard the interest and privacy of our users.

What changes have you observed during the COVID-19 era when mobile was the only ray of hope for all?

Mobile phone and app-based platforms have become the game-changers for the logistics sector in the last two years. During the two waves, business has mostly been conducted online. A platform like Vahak has provided stakeholders with a potent, safe and digital alternative that is driving efficiency and revenue to new highs for users. We witnessed a surge in the onboarding numbers on the platform, and the daily and average user activity. Today, mobile phone-based platforms have eliminated uncertainties to a great extent. One can log on to a platform like Vahak and find loads or transporters online. There is no need to make multiple phone calls or be present in a physical market to do business. The digitization of logistics operations has started and it is going to be the future of the Indian transportation sector now.

“Today, mobile phone-based platforms have eliminated uncertainties to a great extent. One can log on to a platform like Vahak and find loads or transporters online. There is no need to make multiple phone calls or be present in a physical market to do business. The digitization of logistics operations has started and it is going to be the future of the Indian transportation sector now”

What are the current trends you are witnessing in the mobile tech and logistics space?

Mobile tech and digital logistics sectors are both evolving rapidly. One of the biggest trends of the day is integration of AI and data analytics in almost every app-driven business. The online ecosystem gives opportunities for various data touch points. All this data is now being used by AI analytics to further improve the processes. In the logistics sector, analytics is used to monitor vehicles, their performance, fuel efficiency, maintenance needs and so on. The insights generated then enable operators to make better use of their fleets, generate more revenue and deliver greater customer satisfaction.

Another major trend in the logistics sector is the integration of IoT. There are IoT sensors attached to boxes or containers carrying expensive items making possible real-time tracking of the condition of items. For temperature-sensitive items such as fruits, vegetables or even vaccines, IoT sensors can provide real time data on the package condition, temperature, weight and other factors to ensure that there is no spillage during transit.

App based logistics operations as enabled by Vahak and usage of advanced digital technology and smartphone apps are gaining traction significantly. These are some trends which have steadily grown and will become major practices in the years ahead.

Please tell us about the funds that you raised in the recent past and what’s your plan for the next few years.

The incredible potential of Vahak has been well backed by investors. We have received seed funding in a round led by Leo Capital and prominent angel investors such as Amit Gupta (founder, Yulu Bikes), Abhishek Goyal (founder, Tracxn), Ramakant Sharma (founder, LivSpace), Harsh Pokharna (founder, OkCredit), and Archana Priyadarshini (angel investor, and ex Unicorn India Ventures Partner). We have also raised $5million Pre-Series A funding from RTP Global with participation from Luxor Capital and Leo Capital. The other marquee angel investors included Kunal Shah, founder and CEO, Cred; Jitendra Gupta, founder and CEO Jupiter; Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, co-founders, Meesho; Mohd Farid, co-founder, Sharechat; Amrish Rau, CEO, Pine Labs; Harsimarbir Singh, co-founder, Pristyn Care; Rohit and Kunal Bahl, co-founders, Snapdeal; and Ravish Naresh, co-founder and CEO, Khatabook.

Vahak’s network currently covers all major hubs including New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Bhilai, Bhopal, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chandigarh, Vapi, Surat, Nagpur, Patna, and Indore and our aim is to reach $1 billion GMV in the next 12 months. We are focusing on building a strong pan-India presence and onboard more than 3 million truckers in the years ahead.

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