India’s trucking system has a big inefficiency problem that continues to drive the economy. BlackBuck, one of the few logistics startups attempting to overhaul this system, has just achieved unicorn status after securing new funding.
Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund and VEF led the $ 67 million Series E funding round in the six-year startup, valuing it at $ 1.02 billion (vs. approximately $ 850 million in the 2019 Series D round), BlackBuck chief executive Rajesh Yabaji told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this week. BlackBuck is the 16th Indian startup to become a unicorn this year.
BlackBuck connects businesses with truck owners and freight operators. He has developed a simplified app for truck drivers in India, who are generally not very literate, to help them accept work and navigate easily to their destination using Google Maps. On the customer side, companies can launch a similar application to place orders.
Around 700,000 truckers and 1.2 million trucks in India are now connected to the platform, which records more than 15 million transactions each month. “Indian truckers didn’t really go digital until 2019. Since then, the sourcing business has grown 20-fold,” Yabaji said.
During this period, BlackBuck has also transformed considerably. The platform moved away from call centers for booking orders in favor of an application-based system. Today, Yabaji said the startup has reduced its reliance on brokers, who help them connect with truckers in smaller areas as more truckers and fleet owners now have smartphones and book directly.
“On the supply side, the platform was built so that you didn’t know who was in charge. Anyone who has access to the capacity in a particular location and at a particular time has access to the load. In principle, we were in agreement from day one, ”he explained. “As we speak today, 95% of load acceptance is done by owners of small fleets who own two to three trucks.
One of BlackBuck’s biggest successes in recent years has been the growth of its FASTag offering. (FASTag is an electronic toll collection system in India that allows toll payments to be made directly from the linked prepaid or savings account or directly to the toll owner.) Yabaji said that 35% of the expenditure trucking tolls in India today go through BlackBuck.
“We are the leaders in this category and have built several unique solutions for Indian truckers,” he said.
“India’s supply chain and logistics industry is moving from paper and pencil to digital,” said Arjun Sethi, co-founder and partner of Tribe Capital, in a statement. “BlackBuck’s ability to measure production and productivity growth has simplified the logistical challenges for the industry in a short period of time. Its continued high-speed growth promises to bring an even greater transformation to the Indian trucking ecosystem. (By the way, Tribe Capital is in talks to support at least two other Indian startups, according to people familiar with the matter.)
This is a developing story. More soon…