Indian freight marketplace startup BlackBuck has raised $150 million in its Series D investment, led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Accel, with its valuation on the edge of $1 billion, as reported by TechCrunch. Having raised a total of $285.2 million to date, BlackBuck is one of the leading logistics startups in the Indian ecosystem with over 300,000 trucks registered on its platform and having shippers like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Unilever (NYSE: UN) in its list of dispatchers.
The Indian market, although one of the largest in the world, still suffers from inefficiencies within its supply chain landscape that stem from dependence on legacy systems and the opacity that prevails within logistics operations – distinctive marks of a developing economy. The trucking ecosystem that BlackBuck targets parallel the U.S. trucking industry, as it contends with excessive fragmentation and lack of visibility in capacity and volume available across the market.
However, the Indian consumer market is seeing explosive growth, as cities expand and more than 20 million people are brought out of poverty in the country every year. The rapid rise of India’s ecommerce industry is also stretching available logistics’ resources, and startups like BlackBuck are helping streamline the carrier-shipper connection to improve operational efficiency across the supply chain.
BlackBuck started four years ago, designing an application that suits the Indian trucking ecosystem. For instance, truck drivers in India are not well-educated and usually hail from weak economic backgrounds. It is therefore imperative to create a solution that is intuitive and easy to navigate, a disposition that BlackBuck has stuck to since its inception.
BlackBuck’s solution helps drivers look at shipper locations on Google Maps. They can then opt-in on loads that they deem to be a match. On the shipper end, businesses can look at the carriers available and book capacity with regard to their needs. BlackBuck has also grown into different niches within the market, now catering to fleets with discounts on fuel and truck repairs.
“We see enormous potential for innovation in the full truckload logistics market in India,” said Sami Ahmad, head of Asia for Goldman Sachs Investment Partners Venture Capital & Growth Equity team. “Currently, the market is fragmented and inefficient due to highly manual and opaque processes, leading to poor experiences for stakeholders across the value chain.”
Within the Indian trucking landscape, BlackBuck’s competitors include automated load-matching platform Rivigo and also Delhivery, which is now venturing into the trucking business (after starting as an ecommerce fulfillment company). BlackBuck employs over 2,000 people and generated $135.5 million in revenue and losses of $17 million in 2018.
BlackBuck CEO Rajesh Yabaji has said that the company has its sights set on aggressive growth and thus would not be concerned with the growing losses yet. Also, with a record amount of capital investment pouring into the sector in recent years, the company will not have to worry about an initial public offering (IPO), which can be delayed until initial objectives are met.
In the current round of funding, BlackBuck has allowed its employees to liquidate 25 percent of their total vested stock. The company’s employee stock pool equates to 4.7 percent of the total, and is valued at around $43 million.
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