“We started in 2013. This was the time ecommerce was going pretty big. But customers were kept oblivious of the information about their orders or when it will arrive. FarEye was build to solve this gap.”
In the last six years, from a market positioning of a SaaS platform to a digital logistics company and finally, to a global predictive logistics platform, cofounder and CEO Kushal Nahata has brought FarEye a long way. What started as a simple platform to remove the information hurdle in logistics operations, it now leverages technologies such as ML, AI, IoT, gamification and analytics to empower enterprises.
Today, FarEye claims to facilitate over 10 Mn transactions per day in over 20 countries for more than 150 customers. It offers comprehensive and predictive visibility of the supply chain to both shippers and carriers and helps them make data-driven intelligent decisions. After establishing the brand in APAC and Europe, FarEye has recently announced its plans to explore the US supply chain and logistics market as well.
“Working and scaling with multiple clients like DHL, Blue Dart, Amway, Walmart and many others, helped us realise that a tracking solution is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solving the problems logistics industry was facing. There was a huge scope in optimising the entire process and we did exactly the same,” said Nahata.
Solving The Indian Logistics Puzzle
FarEye started its operations at a time when organisations were slow in digitising key supply chain and logistics processes. “Back then, logistics was perceived as a cost-centre rather than a brand differentiator like it is seen today,” recalled Nahata.
Businesses were used to the traditional way of working. Embracing new technologies was not easy and this panned out to be a major challenge in the initial years.
There was a need to tap the nucleus of all existing pain points and Nahata observed this during the initial research. He said that delivery is the first actual touch-point with the end-customer for a brand in an ecommerce landscape, making it so much more important than just taking the product to the user. He realised that with the right processes in place, deliveries could be taken from being just another task to a brand differentiator.
“There is a great potential for businesses to generate new revenue streams from the logistics operations and provide delightful delivery experiences to end-customers. This further led us to build a workflow engine- a first in the industry that enables enterprises to reduce time to build new delivery processes from a quarter(s) to week(s) including testing and scaling,” Nahata told Inc42.
Differentiation Through Service And Customisation
FarEye is an ML-based predictive logistics platform for businesses to execute, track, collaborate, predict and optimise the movement of goods. This helps businesses achieve sustainable growth, happier customers and higher margins.
FarEye’s platform is kind of a shape-shifter which can be easily customised based on customer challenges. The FarEye engine addresses the most exhaustive constraints that become a roadblock for transportation operations. Some of these include driver-route mapping, provisioning for pickup windows, delivery windows and no-entry time windows, tonnage, empty miles cost, running costs, waiting charges and more.
Also, it reduces time to build new delivery processes from many months to weeks including testing and scaling. “With FarEye, businesses can go live in less than two weeks and that too with zero disruptions,” added Nahata.
Currently, the startup has two products — FarEye Delivery for third-party logistics providers and FarEye Transportation for retailers and manufacturers. FarEye Delivery is a workflow-based vehicle routing and scheduling platform for fleet owners. Its key features include intelligent dispatch, cross-docking, pickup and returns, crowdsourcing, digital control towers and more.
On the other hand, FarEye Transportation is a predictive visibility platform that leverages machine learning and predictive technologies to eliminate delays, reduce risks and generate accurate ETAs. This helps manufacturers plan better for incoming deliveries, reliable transportation to reduce inventory costs and helps them benchmark transit times to reduce transportation cost.
The Rising Competition In Logistics Tech
While logistics tech grew on the back of the B2C boom, today B2B logistics tech startups have emerged as the darling of investors as they solve last-mile delivery, warehousing, freight, and supply chain optimisation. Apart from established names such as Shadowfax, BlackBuck, Delhivery, there is a brigade of new-age logistics tech players including the likes of like Fr8, Frieightwallan, LetsTransport and more.
However, logistics in India is a complex and fragmented industry. Despite having millions in the bank through funding and garnering significant consumer interest, some startups have failed to prove their mettle and as a result, had to shut operations. Back in 2016, six Indian logistics startups had to shut shop. Nahata believes a lot of leg-work and ground-level intelligence is needed before one builds an online logistics platform.
As he said, diving deep into client issues and creating optimised and innovative solutions is the only way to sustain the business. “That’s why our R&D team is 65% of the total workforce with a healthy balance of experienced seniors and young working professionals. We try to build solutions that help millions of shipments to move on time with real-time visibility,” said Nahata.
For instance, FarEye’s go-to-market strategy had a mix of mass and niche marketing. “While we were present in all important events, we had a solid media strategy backing us up globally. Product is the hero in any SaaS organisation and we continue to devise our digital, content and branding strategy around it,” said Nahata.
FarEye: Eyeing The $160 Bn Opportunity
Estimated to have a market value of more than $160 Bn, India’s logistics industry is projected to hit $215 Bn in value in 2020, according to the finance ministry. It is one of the highest revenue-generating sectors in India. However, the logistics cost as a percentage of India’s GDP stands at 14%.
“That quantum in itself shows that if we look at it as an ancillary sector, we are probably spending a lot. And if you compare it with developed markets such as Germany and the USA, there you will see the spend is about 9-10% despite it being a large sector,” said Nahata.
Nevertheless, the government aims to bring down this cost to less than 10% by 2022. As per a joint study by Assocham and Resurgent India, the national exchequer can save a whopping $50 Bn if the cost of logistics and transportation is reduced from 14.4% of GDP to 9%.
Nahata does not intend to miss this opportunity. Whether its scaling talent pool or exploring new geographies by opening offices to better support local demand, FarEye is looking at growth in every aspect. “Another key focus area is ensuring happy and engaged employees. At FarEye we believe that to ensure customer loyalty it’s important to keep our employees happy.”
The company is also looking to build up its tech capabilities by improving its machine learning algorithms for FarEye Transportation. To be future-ready, FarEye is also experimenting with drones and looking at blockchain integration. “We are positive about continuing to deliver value to manufacturers, ecommerce companies, retailers and 3PLs across the globe and empowering them in the times to come,” Nahata added.