Monday June 24, 2024

Pakistani logistics startup raises $13 million

By Bilal Hussain
February 05, 2022

KARACHI: Tech-based logistics startup Truck It In has raised $13 million funding in addition to $4.5 million pre-seed funding, bringing up total funding to $17.5 million, which the company mainly aims to use for expansion, officials said.

This brings up the total funding to $17.5 million for the company.

“This seed round comes at an opportune time, as the funds will be deployed to expand our business, driving hiring across all functions, focusing on engineers to help double down on product development and increase our digital penetration in the market,” CEO Muhammad Sarmad Farooq said.

“We are on an exciting journey creating value and solving deep-rooted challenges. In the past year, our revenue has grown 37x. The impact generated allows truckers to lead better economic lives while serving the country.”

The $13 million seed round was jointly led by venture capital firms Global Founders Capital and Fatima Gobi Ventures. The startup said the seed round was the largest of its kind in the MENAP (Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan) region, eclipsing previous highs seen in 2021, which was already a banner year for Pakistani startups.

The round also saw participation from Wamda, Picus Capital, Millville, Graph Ventures, Zayn Capital, i2i Ventures, ADB Ventures, Cianna Capital, Reflect Ventures, and K3 Ventures.

Pakistan is one of the largest road freight markets in the Middle East and North Africa, representing a $25 billion annual opportunity. The startup said it aims to be the nexus of road freight in the country by simplifying business for Pakistan’s three million SME businesses and SME truckers (80 percent of the supply market), who operate in an increasingly complex and deeply fragmented industry.

Senior National Manager Supply and Acquisition Muneeb Shakil, also a founding member of the startup, said they were serving the logistics market by bringing shippers and truckers on its business to business platform.

“Shippers, who are businesses, can book different types of trucks and containers, which suits their product such as fertilisers, finished goods etc. Meanwhile, firms can register their trucks and containers with the online app.”

He said that the Karachi-based startup also has offices in Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad and has clients such as Engro and Fatima Fertilizers to name a few. The company has already brought 600 shippers and 9,000 truckers on board.

Ali Mukhtar, General Partner Fatima Gobi Ventures, said the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption among larger players, widening the gaps of the haves and have-nots in the logistics world.

“We believe Truck It In is key to closing this gap by making it easy for SME truckers to streamline operations and compete on a more level playing field while keeping costs competitive and serving as a vital lifeline for Pakistan’s thriving economy. With Sarmad and his team at the wheel, Pakistan’s SMEs are in pole position for a strong, sustainable, digital future,” Mukhtar said.

Alejandro Montealegre from Millville Opportunities Master Fund said, “We are excited to back Truck It In’s high calibre team who are providing tremendous value to a critical sector of Pakistan’s economy.”

Kalsoom Lakhani, Co-Founder and GP at i2i Ventures, said, “Pakistan’s trucking industry presents an enormous opportunity for innovation and disruption, and we have a deep conviction in the Truck it In team, who are tackling this head-on. We are impressed by their execution and honoured to support them on their journey as their investors.”

Khurram Schehzad, Founder Alpha Beta Core, said that Pakistan has a large population and has huge service gaps in almost all industries.

“It is great to see funding coming for Pakistani startups,” Schehzad said. “Pakistan has great potential to attract funding for startups. There are huge gaps that have been addressed in other parts of the world by startups with ideas to solve them.”

There's a need for startups such as Truck It In to make business and economy more efficient through digitisation. He admitted this was not a completely new idea, but that Pakistan needed such startups.

“We shouldn’t be celebrating over $350 and $400 million (annual) investments,” said the seasoned tech industry analyst. “Pakistan has a potential of attracting $4 to $5 billion annually.”

Startups in Pakistan can attract $100 million and above in funding. Indian startups were attracting multiple of $100 million in funding because the business environment was viable there, something Pakistan needs to learn.

More efficient regulations were needed to make entry and exit for investment quick to attract more investors.

He said that regulatory bodies such as the State Bank and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan were making efforts to move in the right direction, but there was need for more work on it.

He said that to achieve the true potential of Pakistan’s tech-based startup culture, provision of tax incentives and cheap internet should also be ensured.