Rivigo – Can Internet of Things disrupt the traditional trucking industry?
How an Indian startup is using Big Data to go after the global trucking market, which is 20x the size of global cab revenues.
On a hot summer Indian afternoon, Deepak Garg (ex-McKinsey) and Gazal Kalra (Stanford MBA, ex-McKinsey) showed a crude mobile app to truck owners and drivers at a hub on the outskirts of Delhi, India. If an overenthusiastic blogger had overheard the discussion, they probably wouldn’t have wasted a second into labelling the wireframes as an ‘Uber for Trucks’. Perhaps it was an ‘Uber-model’ after all, and perhaps that’s why it didn’t take off well with the hard-skinned truckers of India.
The ground reality hit hard, and it was time to revisit the problem itself. With feedback from truckers who spent eighteen hours behind the wheel each day on less than $200 per month, Garg and Kalra realized that the key challenge was that of the industry’s sustainability and not just efficiency.
Founded in 2014, Rivigo is one of the fastest growing startups in India. They aim to provide scalable, country-agnostic express surface logistics services to match airline transportation time – while building a sustainable, safe and reliable industry. They have built a team of operators, business managers, data scientists and over 1500 truck drivers, and are currently serving some of the biggest companies in India across the e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, auto, and textile industries. As of this writing, they have raised more than $110M from Softbank Asia Investment Fund and Warburg Pincus. , 
What makes Rivigo so exciting?
Rivigo is going after the $2 trillion global trucking market – which is twenty times the size of the cab market – but is immensely fragmented and has a massive dearth of technological innovation. For instance, in India, 90% of surface freight transportations happen on road, and due to vast array of problems, 40% of perishable products get spoilt before delivery. In order to achieve their promises, Rivigo owns and operates its own fleet of trucks while closely tracking the time spent by drivers behind the wheel, to make sure that drivers are not too tired to operate the trucks safely. Further, in order to make sure that the trucks run 24×7, Rivigo leverages its big data capabilities to create a relay system so trucks can be handed over from one driver to the next, without interrupting operations. Key metrics such as number of hours spent behind the wheel and fuel usage are tracked through a smartphone app on the operators’ phones. , 
Striving for continuous innovation, Rivigo has become one of the first Indian startups in the recent years to file for three patents in the United States – to protect their proprietary algorithms. These algorithms focus on optimizing fuel efficiency and pilferage, improving driver productivity, and minimizing in-transit damage to the loads. Additional patents have been filed for matching drivers to routes based on geo-location and personality traits of the drivers. In addition to protecting their intellectual property, the US patents hint at near-term expansion plans into the capital-intensive North American market. , 
Business Model – Products & Value Creation
Rivigo offers full tracking visibility to their clients. Along with two classes of services – Zoom and Prime (a new tier, Green, has been recently launched). To help clients track vehicles, Rivigo also helps integrate their technology into the clients’ internal tracking module. A brief overview of the service tiers are as follows:
Prime – It is catered to the ecommerce companies, to help with one-way or two-way routing by creating a custom-tailored haul network for each client.
Zoom – This product is tailored for clients with highly variable transit requirements. While guaranteeing the service quality of Prime, the Zoom model helps run freights on standardized routes.
As per company statements, the clients have been able to reduce their line haul cost by 50-70%. 
“This creates a huge amount of value because drivers love it. They are able to come back to their families,” says Garg. “Clients love it because they get deliveries much faster compared to an environment where truckers have to stop and rest on the highway.” 
The Rivigo team are currently in the process of expanding their current fleet from 1500 to over 5000 trucks, and improve the number of trucking pit-stops from 41 to over 200 by mid-2017. Further, with the recent impetus from the Indian Prime Minister to develop technologies in India, along with subsequent changes in tax legislations, which’ll help Rivigo with faster turnaround times, development of pull-based supply chains and re-configuration of warehousing and distribution networks.
Other key challenges that they’d need to work on:
- Reduce dependency on drivers by developing “drive-assist” technology for the trucks
- Track and manage emissions, and partner with fuel-efficient and clean-tech truck manufacturers
- Expand into developing IoT technologies for providing supply chain improvement services to clients
- Image courtesy – http://www.schooleymitchell.com/wp-content/uploads/trucking.jpg
Student comments on Rivigo – Can Internet of Things disrupt the traditional trucking industry?
Great article Koulick! I fully agree that there are huge efficiency gains to be made in trucking. You mentioned the spoilage of food on trucks due to poor planning and delays. Another general issue due to the large fragmentation of the industry is a low capacity utilization of trucks. In Europe, for example, trucks are on average only 60% loaded. One great way to improve overall industry efficiency would be to connect smaller trucking firms and allow them to share loads among each other, increasing overall profitability. Excited to see where Rivigio is heading!
Very interesting article. Indeed, there is a lot of potential for improvement in the trucking industry. I agree with Stefan, logistics and transportation companies have to find a way to increase the utilization rate of the trucks, and an important role here is played by retailers and manufacturers which could work together to deliver less-than-truck-load to central hubs, where the merchandise could be consolidated in full-truck-loads and delivered via the most optimal route to retailers (with the help of tools such as Rivigo). But there are, of course, a lot of hurdles, from food safety regulations (what products can be shipped together), to environmental regulations (how long trucks can be on the road and at what times in the day or week they can be on the road, etc.) or legal concerns (liability, retailers not wanting to work together, different quality standards between retailers, etc.). Inter-modal (using both trucks and trains for delivery) can be another solution. And, of course, self-driven truck could potentially revolutionize the industry.
Very good article Koulick! I found it very interesting to see how Rivigo has addressed several of the challenges that several trucking companies face in developing markets. I believe that the visibility they give their clients on the status of their fright is a key piece of their business model: very often, given their limited size and technical expertise, trucking companies have limited capacity to give live and reliable information to their customers. I believe they are definitely on the right track to have a profound impact on an industry that doesn’t innovate as much as it should.
Rivigo sounds like an amazing and necessary innovation. It’s making the lives of customers and clients better – what could be better?
How do you think that existing competitors will respond? It seems like they’re creating a solution that relies on their ability to process big data and their scale. But, if existing competitors can do the same thing, does Rivigo have long-term viability? I can see a world where one of the existing trucking companies acquiries Rivigo – is there another scenario where a competitor creates the same service for their customers / drivers and Rivigo continues to survive?
Thanks Divya for your comment!
The great part about Rivigo is that – it’s the first mover in the entire world applying such deep analytics to express logistics. Currently, it has no competitors (in India, at least) and has gone on to capture deals with some of the biggest clients in India.
The traditional logistics companies can surely enter into this space – but given their size of assets, business model and public market stock performance, I’m guessing it will be really tough for them to pivot.
Koulick – thank you for this thought provoking post. Taking off from Divya’s comment and BMC’s comment on Inter-modal – I wonder how Rivigo can interface with or compete with the Indian Railways. I imagine there would be some very interesting collaboration opportunities between the two – imagine a world where you can ship a container load from point to point and the Rivigo algorithm will customize the most efficient path using a combination of the road and railways. This could also be environmentally efficient given that freighting on rail is generally more sustainable that by truck.