Founded in 2015, logistics management platform Locus.sh is looking to solve any and everything related to inefficiencies in logistics. The idea is ambitious, to say the least, given how nightmarish the logistics segment in India can be. Yet, the founders are clear not to confuse hustling and hacking and not rely on ‘jugaad’.
“We hate the word ‘jugaad’ , I think the glorification of jugaad in India is a very damaging thing,” says Nishith Rastogi, co-founder and director of Locus.sh.
Nishith and Geet Garg, co-founders of Locus.sh, are graduates from BITS Pilani and IIT respectively. Before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship the duo worked at Amazon on machine learning technologies. When they left the e-commerce giant, they wanted to work on something that solves an ‘open problem’ with quality being the defining characteristic. Elaborating further, Nishith says, “Our code should not break in production, our sales emails should have a typo; their font should be perfectly aligned and my design should be pixel perfect; my communications should be professional – everything should be metrocised.” This, as opposed to just the logistics, technology, supply chain, sales and products.
As per Geet, the aim of the company is to be the entire tech stack of a logistics company. He adds, “Anything and everything that brings in inefficiencies in logistics, we want to solve that for you.” Locus.sh’s main clientele consists of SMEs and enterprises, positioning themselves as a premium service provider.
Some of the features their technology includes are, automated smart dispatches, tracking, fleet visualisation views and propriety route deviation. In effect, they not only answering where a truck is, via GPS tracking, they also broadly answer where a truck should be. Being a state-of-the-art decision-making platform, they are also looking to add value working out problems like load balancing, optimization of routes and utilisation of containers.
While completing graduation in BITS Plillani, Nishith lived in a hostel and developed a tool that enables you to message people around you even without knowing them before-hand. This led to creation of ‘Pinchat’ – which is how he began to dabble in location-based technologies. After an untoward incident caught Nishith’s attention, the team then focused on building a women’s safety app. Thus, he came up with RideSafe which included a route deviation feature. It monitors the route a driver is taking, “if it detects a route, where there’s no rational reason, it alerts you. If you don’t react, it alerts your friends and family,” says Nishith.
Incidentally in early 2015, when the food-tech industry was picking up, a few startups resorted to using RideSafe to keep track of their delivery boys, checking if they deviate. With GPS increasingly being used, data also became more easily available. However, there was no decision-making engine to top it – and that, was how the Locus.sh team went from being engineers building a B2C-chat-app to building a B2B, enterprise-focused organisation.
The startup secured their first round of seed capital from a few angels including Amit Ranja, founder of slidehsare, and pi Ventures’ Manish Singhal among others. In 2016, the team announced their Series A round funding of $2.75 million led by Exfinity Venture Partners – the venture-arm of infosys’ founding team – along with the likes of Blume Ventures and BeeNext. Funding is one of the main concerns for any entrepreneur but not the primary one. Geet says, “People tell you that it’s not easy and it’s going to be difficult but no one can actually tell you how difficult it’s going to be.” The founders initially believed that once they secure their first round of funding it would be smooth sailing from there on but that that did not happen. Then they thought that the next round of funding and a slightly bigger team would ease it but that did not happen either. “It’s getting more and more difficult, there are a lot of new battles to fight every single day.”
Nishith says that as startups, with limited resources, bandwith and people, there will always be a crunch for time and chances for slipping up. As such, his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is, “Be sure to understand what tasks are important and what tasks are urgent and you’re not constantly prioritising urgent over important.” Geet backs this up by pointing out that there is no rule-book to go by and the absence of any guidance is the biggest challenge. He adds, “You should have an idea of where you want to be. But the journey? It’s a huge unknown, so it will change, it will be scary but you just keep going. But at the same time, you need to know when to give up.”
Currently, Locus.sh has automated automated logistics for leading enterprises in India, like Urban Ladder, 1mg, Quikr, Lenskart and Licious, among others. The startup has set a 20-year vision of wanting to be involved in tracking and monitoring 1% of the entire world’s transport movement. Not giving up and looking to push the boundaries, they aim to automate all the human decisions involved in sending a package from Point A to Point B.