[The Turning Point] Inspired by the ‘Uber for X’ concept, three IIT alumni started logistics startup Porter to address challenges in the urban trucking market

Logistics technology startupPorter, which is backed by e.g. Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital of India, was started as The Porter in August 2014 by IIT alumni Pranav Goel, Uttam Digga and Vikas Choudhary, to change the fragmented intra-logistics industry by leveraging technology.

The Mumbai-based startup is a logistics marketplace that allows companies to book vehicles as needed to meet the logistics needs of the city. At present, Porter works with e-commerce, FMCG, SMEs, merchants, 3PLs, courier and freight companies. It has disrupted various logistics domains by launching an on-demand marketplace for LCVs and bikes – Porter for Enterprise and Packers and Movers.

The journey

The bidet of the entrepreneurial error was inspired by the founders ‘Uber for X’ concept seven years ago to serve consumers with on-demand services.

The co-founders studied the business model of Uber and similar companies, which brought together existing supply chains and matched it to demand in a much more efficient and effortless way using technology. The trio conducted soil research in logistics in Mumbai and found a huge market gap in the last mile delivery space.

File image of the Porter team (Image credit: Porter Facebook page)

While talking to Your story, Pranav recalls that in 2014 the intralogistics industry was a very fragmented market with sharp gaps in demand and supply, poor matchmaking and low asset utilization.

“With the existing challenges, the industry also lacked an ecosystem to function smoothly throughout the logistics cycle. It was clear to us that only a technical intervention can correct the gaps. Therefore, Porter was started to turn these challenges into opportunities and to take advantage of the promising intra-city logistics market in India, ”he adds.

The industry also had other challenges. Co-founder Uttam says when they started Porter, they realized there were major complications on the partner side.

“We have also uncovered some unpleasant social stigmas, especially those related to the pain points of owning an LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle). It was this knowledge that changed the way we decided to solve the problem,” he adds.

As a echo of the same, Vikas says that the trio based on all these factors took a deep dive to understand the partner problems and then created a marketplace that would create an efficient and reliable ecosystem in the industry.

“While the company and its stakeholders need to create an effective economic cycle, the larger goal for Porter over the years has been to create a social impact that positively changes the lives of all stakeholders in this journey,” he adds.

He says the spirit and dedication to disrupting the industry and creating a social impact became their turning point.

The constant development

However, according to Pranav, the eureka moment or turning point was to develop the start-up into a tech-enabled marketplace and create an ecosystem in this space from being just an on-demand marketplace that connects customers with drivers and improves both their visibility and efficiency.

“It’s rare for startups to see their original dissertation unfold,” Pranav says. “We were quick to realize that the major disruption in the industry was on the supply side, and we need to shift our focus towards solving these problems and thereby create a strong impact on the demand side. This resulted in creating a good cycle with strong network effects.The ecosystem paved the way for increased vehicle utilization, better SLA (service-level agreement) and higher income for its driver partners.From the smallest to the largest intervention, every step of our journey is built around the ecosystem with great focus on our supply side , ”He explains.

According to the team, drivers earn 30 percent more, and customers save 20 percent on logistics costs and get a better experience with lower waiting times and higher availability.

Porter is also one of the only logistics models that is 100 percent asset-light and has a negative working capital cycle, according to the founders.

The startup, which started with two vehicles in August 2014, is now present in over 13 cities across India, with more than 50 lakh customers and over two lakh owner-drivers on board.

Porter also claims to have consistently achieved triple-digit annual growth since launch and has grown faster with the scale as the network effects unfold.

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