Through its cloud-based truck network platform, Nandan Nilekani and Accel Partners-backed 4TiGO, aims to build a network of trust amongst all parties that work in the transport business. Of note, it has formed strategic partnerships with Federal Bank, to deliver on its payment guarantee and IOC, to pass on tangible benefits through a driver-centric programme
We live in times where the most nimble stay ahead of the curve. There is absolutely no doubt that as industries, even the more traditional sort, go online, mobility is one of those functions that is going to define the way businesses operate and the way they are perceived by all stakeholders. It is this shift in momentum that the founding team at Fortigo Network Logistics Pvt. Ltd. (4TiGO), a cloud-based truck network platform, wants to capitalise on. Founded in 2015 by Anjani Mandal and Vivek Malhotra, 4TiGO, aims at efficient management of the entire goods transportation cycle through its technology platform. Its core offering can be categorised into three key areas; fleet management, matching of supply and demand of trucks and complete contract management including a payment guarantee.
Between them, Mandal and Malhotra have over 50 years of work experience in the IT industry and prior to establishing 4TiGO, Mandal was CEO at Manipal Technologies, while Malhotra had already established Symbiotic Sciences, a startup focused on maximising the potential of bio-resources in sustainable agriculture. The founders’ extensive working knowledge of IT and their understanding of the B2B space helped them establish a business model that creates significant value addition by streamlining the processes of a very fragmented and unorganised industry. “We first approached this business as a transformative project rather than a disruptive one,” says Malhotra while adding that the company sought to identify the industry’s unmet and underserved needs and address the same. This approach is one of the reasons the company has found early stage investors in Nandan Nilekani and Accel Partners. “Nandan Nilekani shares our passion to bring about a formal structure to the fragmented industries of our economy,” opines Mandal.
Building a trusted network
At present, 4TiGO’s platform is in the test phase across six states in India and there are nearly 50 trucking companies, both large and small, that have come on board.
As Mandal explains, the most critical step for 4TiGo’s platform to reach its potential is to draw all the stakeholders – consignee, transporter, fleet owner and driver – to its technology platform and get them to interact with one another. “Our aim was to create a platform where transactions could be tracked real-time by all parties concerned as our end goal is to create a network, based on trust,” he adds. Transparency is not the platform’s only salient feature, in fact, it also helps correct the demand and supply equation by linking availability of trucks and drivers to loads that need transportation.” Any transporter that needs a truck can check on availability within a 50 kilometre radius from his exact location,” explains Mandal.
Even as the company is readying itself to go live with the platform, the founders express confidence in being able to deliver a solution to an industry that is seeking new ideas to reduce transport cycle time. “Our initial target is to do 500 loads a day but even that is not close to our full potential,” states Mandal. Over the course of the next two years, 4TiGO aims at a transaction volume of over 15,000 loads a day.
4TiGO has tied-up with Indian Oil Corporation to deliver a driver-centric programme through the latter’s retail outlets.
Delivering a promise
At the core of 4TiGO’s offering is its fulfilment assurance and payment guarantee, especially, to fleet owners. “There is a fundamental lack of trust. For us to be able to build a network for trust, it is important that we guarantee payment and stay true to our assurance of fulfilment,” says Mandal. Also, given that this is an industry that requires intensive working capital, banks have shied away from getting involved for fear of parties defaulting. However, 4TiGO has managed a strategic tie-up with Federal Bank to implement an electronic payment platform and the bank has created special loan products for parties on board 4TiGO’s platform. “Banks have stayed away from funding the industry due to a lack of transparency but our platform is structured such that the money flow is visible,” reasons Mandal.
Changing the mindset
One of the most significant challenges that 4TiGO will face is growing awareness and communicating the benefits its platform offers to those in the transport business. In this regard, it has partnered with Indian Oil Corporation to deliver a driver-centric programme through the latter’s retail outlets. “Our network programme provides nearly 16 free amenities to the drivers including CCTV monitored parking, clean beds, toilet, kitchens, doctor on call and more,” says Malhotra while adding that drivers and fleet owners are also entitled to fuel discounts. 4TiGO leverages its tie-up with IOC to spread the word and reach out to the trucking community. The company also conducts regional language based campaigns through truck owners’ associations to scale its numbers. “Breaking past the resistance and driving adoption has been one of our bigger challenges,” admits Malhotra. For 4TiGo, the road ahead is interesting yet arduous as the company works its way to gaining industry acceptance. “This year we will focus on stabilising the network and bringing on board 5,000 to 10,000 trucks,” says Mandal. As he signs off, he shares his ambitions for the company over the next two years, “We want to grow the network to a point where we facilitate over Rs. 1,000 crore worth of transactions.”
Fortigo Network Logistics Pvt. Ltd. (4TiGO)
Founders: Anjani Mandal, Vivek Malhotra
Industry: Cloud-based transport network where all parties transact in a transparent manner