We got talking to LogiNext CTO and co-founder, Manisha Raisighani about the IoT, data analytics and women in logistics.Â
Q- A technology based start-up to provide solutions to logistics companies, could you explain that in detail for us? What does LogiNext basically do?Â
A- Founded in January, 2014, LogiNext helps logistics companies to improve their internal operations, optimise delivery networks and provide superior customer service using data collection, advanced analytics and visualisation. LogiNext currently serves medium and large scale enterprises in unorganised and emerging markets. Our vision is to organise the chaotic world of supply chain logistics through technology. We employ smart technology and IoT to create an end-to-end ecosystem to serve our clientsâ€™ every need ranging from the First Mile, Long Haul, Last Mile, On Demand as well as Reverse Logistics optimisation in an automated format based on customised fields. We provide real-time visibility, big data analytics and optimisation products on a SaaS model for companies from various industries across different segments to help them improve their internal operations, optimise delivery networks and provide superior customer service using data collection, advanced analytics and visualisation.Â
Q- How did you get into the business of logistics? From where did you get the idea of IoT solutions for logistics?Â
A- In Late 2013, while we were sitting at a Starbucks in Manhattan, we started discussing the reasons why logistics businesses in emerging markets are so complex and unorganised. We narrowed down to the lack of visibility in the delivery networks as one of the key reasons why the logistics services are so unreliable. Also, that was the time when market witnessed a huge surge in e-commerce, hyperlocal commerce and Uber kind of services, where a lot of startups and even large companies were jumping. But most of them were making losses because of very high logistics cost, uncertainties and frequent delays. And since we both are techies by heart, we saw the solution in â€˜Internet of Thingsâ€™ and big data to optimise delivery networks, internal operations and other logistics services. And this is how our first product- Track-A-Pack became a reality.Â
Q- How has been your journey as the co-founder of LogiNext Solutions?Â
A- Initially, I and Dhruvil were both doing multiple things. As an entrepreneur you would want to be a part of everything, but you just have to learn to delegate. As the CTO, I still donâ€™t know everything. But if I donâ€™t know the best design for example, Iâ€™ll bring on people who do. We needed a team. And gradually he moved to the business side of things and I moved to the technology side. We have a very young and energetic team trying to solve some realistic problems in the world of unorganised logistics. Every day there is a new challenge to solve. My current and future goals are the same â€“ change the way logistics and supply chain industry works in Indian and other emerging markets. We start our day with our daily stand up meeting, where all the burning issues at hand are discussed and the entire plan of the day for each team member is shared in detail.Â
Q- Why do you think there are few women in technology and logistics sector?Â
A- People find it strange how a woman is leading technology at LogiNext. There are not many women at the intersection of B2B and logistics. It is a very rough domain. The root cause why we see less women in technology and logistics sector is the lack of mentorship and motivation right from a girlâ€™s early years. The problem lies at the funnel, where the inequality can be seen as you progress in your education and career. In school, there were an equal number of males and females, but as I advanced in my education, the ratio of girls steadily declined. The percentage dropped from around 40 per cent in school to 30 per cent in undergrad to less than 20 per cent at Carnegie Mellon. One of the reasons is that the support for women keeps decreasing as they progress.Â
One of the reasons is that the support for women keeps decreasing as they progress.
Q- Who are the funding partners of LogiNext?Â
A- LogiNext raised seed round of funding of $500,000 from Indian Angel Network led by Sanjay Mehta and Ajit Surana in April, 2015. We later received series A round funding of around $10 million from Paytm in September, 2015.Â
Q- The start wouldnâ€™t have been easy for sure. What problems did you guys face during the initial days of LogiNext?Â
A- Building a team of data analysts and machine learning algorithm professionals in India was a challenge. We literally had 100 per cent attrition on the very first day of the company. When we finally hired our first techie, after taking four aggressive rounds of interviews, the person ran away on the very first day of joining, seeing no office and no clients. So what we did was, we partnered with the universities in the US and they help us for the optimisation algorithms. Today we have a team of over 70 data scientists working round the clock. Our team and our own developers stay in constant touch with PHD students and professors who actually help us on introducing new algorithms and new technologies. This has really helped us a lot in terms of innovation because all the PHD students are totally into research and development. This is something which really stands us apart. We are a peer product company and the enterprises we deal with are really demanding. If clients are paying in millions to use our software services, then they expect hundreds of people tagged to their account. So it has always been a challenge for us to prioritise. We have to always follow the product road map, and a lot of requirements, product enhancement come from the clients. We not only have to see which client is giving us more revenues, but also which features to prioritise and where we see actual value added. Now what really helps is that we do have a lot of logistics domain expertise in-house, especially coming from Dhruvil and me, and also a lot of other senior people who have joined us with rich industry experience of more than a decade.Â
Q- The core logistics sector of India isnâ€™t into technology. How do you see the pattern changing in the next 10 years?Â
A- The present market in India has too much of dependence on the intermediaries and thus has very less transparency. The present market in India has â€œtoo many handsâ€ involved in the network of logistics from shippers, 3pl, freight forwarders, logistics hub, etc. Logistics in most of the emerging economies, including India, is highly unorganised and unpenetrated by technology. Most of the logistics companies are incurring losses because of very high logistics cost, uncertainties and frequent delays. The operations manager is unaware of the real time location of the shipments in transit and has to rely on manual inputs from delivery boys/drivers.Â Most companies in the logistics space have tried to innovate with the use of tech, but most of them still do their operations in a manual way by putting hundreds of resources on board.Â For example, we recently observed that many hyper local logistics startups have central team, city teams, area teams, analyst teams and a team to coordinate among all these teams! Even after so much manpower, things go wrong on the field and ultimately create a chaos. India has always been identified as one of the most unorganised markets when it comes to logistics and supply chain and these manpower intensive approaches are not adding any value to it. On paper, just the Indian logistics market is as large as $385 billion, but hardly 10 per cent of it is organised.Â At LogiNext, we have tried to bring the most innovative and complex technologies in extremely simple form factors. For example, we are the only company in India which offers mobile technology solutions to plot multiple pick-ups and multiple deliveries on the same route for a delivery boy or a delivery vehicle. Not just that, but our algorithms have proven their value by taking a multitude of preferences while calculating these routes like traffic patterns, weather patterns, advanced geo-coding, customerâ€™s time preferences, resource capacity in terms of weight, volume and units. This is just the start of making the logistics market of India more accurate and transparent. We hope to see ourselves as Indiaâ€™s pioneers of real-time tracking.Â
Q- What are your views on growth and future of transportation industry in India?Â
A- We believe that the transportation industry in India is on the verge of a major breakthrough in terms of organisation and the use of technology. The wheels of change have been set in motion by us and we see the entire sector gaining more efficiency and transparency going forward.
The wheels of change have been set in motion by us and we see the entire sector gaining more efficiency and transparency going forward.
Q- What are your marketing strategies going forward?Â
A- We use both online and offline channels to improve the visibility and reach out to our prospects and potential employees. We have a strong presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Quora. Also, we have been part of various offline events which include Indiaâ€™s biggest supply chain events like IRFâ€™15 and ELSCâ€™15. These events helped us to reach out directly to the whoâ€™s who of supply chain and logistics and make them understand the benefits of our products. Other Events like CIO Crown has helped us connect with the key decision makers in the industry. Since we are an integrated part of the startup ecosystem, we are very well connected with other startups and attend startup events.Â
Q- Who has been your inspiration in setting up your start-up?Â
A- Inspiration comes from the three wise men (my co-founder Dhruvil Sanghvi, our investor Vijay Shekhar Sharma and our advisor Mark DeSantis), who are unremittingly making sure that I lead in this game. My confidence has exponentially grown with every milestone achieved in the 2 years of a roller-coaster ride with the waves getting deeper and steeper.Â
Q- There has been mushrooming of some technology-driven start-ups in the logistics sector. Any advice for them on how to crack this sector?Â
A- Stay focused and stay hungry! You would never realise how close you were to your dreams until you achieve it.
Stay focused and stay hungry! You would never realise how close you were to your dreams until you achieve it.Â