Truck Suvidha: Redefining the Indian transport Industry

Necessity, goes the adage, is the mother of invention. When Ishu Bansal, saw his family business face problems in transporting their manufactured goods, he was convinced there were others sailing in the same boat too and facing the same hardships as his family. Find out what he did.
Shilpa Mahajan
Published on: 16th August 2016
Bansal’s family had set up a plywood manufacturing unit at Mundia in Badaun district in 2003. The manufacturing unit being based in a small town meant that the Bansals would have to get trucks from a 100-150 km circle to despatch their finished products. They would often end up delivering their promised goods after the deadlines. Resulting into losses due to not being able to deliver on time as well as loss of goodwill. Buyers would walk away from a manufacturer who, more often than not, would fail to deliver on time.

Unable to get reliable and timely transportation facilities, the Bansal family went as far as buying a truck of their own in 2007. That too did not seem to work out.
Truck Suvidha
Recalls Bansal, “A part of the problem did get solved. We were able to deliver on time but the idea was not commercially viable. We were not able to find return loads for trucks, which resulted in huge costs when we took into account the daily expenses of hiring a driver, the diesel for the vehicle and the return freight. At times, the truck drivers would have to wait at one place for 5 to 7 days at times- waiting to get loads for the return journey. The whole setup, we soon realized, though enabled us to deliver on time, had led to another set of headaches. Obviously, not a very pleasant scenario.”

Ishu would see the harried family and wanted to create a solution. Not only for his family but for all many others like them who, he was sure, were suffering too. Almost four years back, Ishu was enjoying a cup of tea with Amit Punaini, also a partner in the plywood business, when he brought up the topic of transportation related woes. Amit who also had a successful scrap and metal business behind him knew that the man in front of him, almost ten years his younger, was talking sense.

The idea was thus conceived during a casual chit chat but once the seed had been sown, there was no looking back. Together, the two decided to use technology to rid this highly unorganized sector of, at least, some of its ills. That was way back in 2011. “We knew we wanted to do it. Rather, we HAD to do it.  We started refining our thought process, closely looking at the industry, building up the database and collecting feedback from various entities involved in transport business. The research consisted of endless visits to Azadpur Mandi (Delhi), transport houses, truck drivers, dhabas, truck unions and interacting with the people who had been in this industry for a long time. After those long conversations and hearing to the travails of others like us, we finally knew we were following the right thing,” says Amit.

Ishu, only 21 at that time, was working with Infosys. The self-propelled entrepreneur pooled in all his savings and together with Amit, who was his family’s business associate, set out to work upon the idea.

The two gleam with pride when they mention that the concept was entirely self-funded! The concept was under-the-works for a long three years, during which they zeroed in on every possible aspect of it. The portal was finally launched in September 2014.
Truck Suvidha
Adds Ishu, “With this project, we are targeting the logistics industry in which truckers are the people who are the worst sufferers. Since we were aiming to provide ‘suvidha’ (convenience) to trucks and truck drivers/ operators, we decided to call it Truck Suvidha.

Keen to know how the whole thing works, we asked Amit to elaborate on it.

“See! There are different parties and aspects to the whole thing. Let us first talk from the transporter’s point of view. Whoever wishes to transport a load will need to register on the portal (which has been kept simple and easy) and purchase a subscription. Once the load is available from his home district, he will get an SMS about the same. Or else he can view the status by visiting the website. Here, we give them two options. They can post their own loads and find truck(s) for them. Or take the other option. They can also post their trucks and find loads for them.

Now, from the truck drivers’ perspective. They can register under any transporter and find loads for his truck.  They can also get return loads by posting truck on the website.”

Quips in he, “That’s not all. Packers and movers can also post their loads and find trucks for them. Infact, we are going to launch shifting requirements board for packers and movers soon as well.”

“Lastly, we also make things easier for customers/industrialists. They can post their loads and find trucks for them. They can directly contact with truck posting owners. I mean, those who posted trucks on the website. Or, search for transporters in the directory.”

Truck Suvidha, which now operates from Yamunanagar (Haryana) with 21 full time employees excluding the co-owners and four part timers, is not done with the teething troubles.

“It has not been easy convincing transporters and truck drivers, most of whom are not too well read, that technology can be a driving factor for their business. Worse still, even the educated ones in the transportation sector do not realize the importance of staying in sync with the times. Not many turn to, or think of turning to the internet for business.”

Convincing them, getting them to register with their portal has been difficult, he adds. Difficult, but not impossible.

Truck Suvidha helps improve productivity by reducing the time it takes to search for loads or trucks by using a state of the art filtered email notification system and eliminating non-relevant services (links) and animated ads which make most freight matching load board services annoying for those turning to the internet.

Not wanting to leave any stone unturned and to get out of the red as soon as they possibly can, the two co-founders are now focussed on popularizing the concept and raising awareness about the need for it. For that, they are making use of every possible channel. Digital marketing, telemarketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SMO (Social Media Optimization), in person marketing- everything, in short!

Amit, the more experienced one of the two, adds, “The revenues and margins are good for the logistics industry. Truck Suvidha would be earning through advertisements, packages etc. We know we might take a year to break even. Maybe even two. But that doesn’t bother us!”

The initial response has been good, they say. Exceeding expectations infact. 16,403 registered transport contractors, 8,084 fleet owners, 5,340 commission agents and 1,729 transport brokers over a seven month period is no mean achievement, after all! Those astoundingly huge numbers speak volumes about the rapid strides Truck Suvidha has been making into this unchartered territory.

The team is also working hard on positioning themselves as a brand. They have a very active Facebook page with more than 11,000 likes and a Twitter fan base of 4,000 users. At present, they have clearly demarcated areas in which they are both, in their own right, specialists. As Amit, the seasoned businessman, takes care of the day to day operations, Ishu is the tech guy who looks after the website. Both together work hard to ensure that a one-time visitor to TS not only converts into a loyal customer but also helps spread the good word about them.

The journey so far, inspite of being a bumpy ride on a road covered, for the most part, with potholes, has given the two young entrepreneurs reasons enough to smile. The most memorable moments till date have been a launch at IIT Kanpur.

“The portal which went beta in September 2014 went fully functional during the IITK launch. The TS was finally opened to the public during the India International Trade Fair (IITF). Which was a BIG moment for us,” says Ishu.

Amit wants to add, “Later, we also got the first runners up award for presenting our idea at Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management (TSCFM), Mumbai and the second runners up award at another event where we highlighted the social aspect of our initiative- our aim to streamline things for each of the parties involved with transportation through trucks.”

India, as we all know, is one of the largest consumer markets in the world and driven primarily by domestic trade. Even in 2012, domestic trade comprised more than half (58%, to be precise) share of the GDP.  Land transport accounts for a lion’s share of this movement of goods within the country. It is surprising therefore that no one thought of developing a platform like this earlier.

The men at the helm of Truck Suvidha state in unambiguous terms that their vision entails helping all players who need to use trucks by bringing them together come under one umbrella.

This time, we want to join them in saying, “Difficult, of course. But not impossible!”
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