In an interview with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com, Raghavendran Viswanathan said, “FreightBro is India’s first Freight Forwarder facing platform. Freight forwarders are supposed to be asset light and they facilitate the movement of cargo”.
Tell us about your journey?
I was a typical Engineer working for an MNC IT company developing banking products during the late 2000s, the time when banking industry was going through the shift from physical to net banking. I always wanted to venture out being an entrepreneur hence decided a Master’s in business could help. I did my masters from Mumbai and instantly fell in love with the city and the opportunities it had to provide. Logistics career happened by chance post MBA and I worked for a couple of years understanding the industry and nuances of the business. This led to the idea of changing the logistics user experience like how net banking did. The brainstorming happened with Mohammed (now the Co-founder at FreightBro) who I met during my stint in a Swiss based freight forwarding company. We were excited about other industries and drew parallel to logistics. After careful understanding about the business and weighing in the risks of industry adaptation, we met Anand (now the Director & Co-founder at FreightBro) who is an industry veteran with 25 years of experience with world’s largest shipping companies. This discussion assured we were in the right space and time. And this discussion led three of us to start FreightBro which is currently simplifying freight forwarding processes for hundreds of enterprises globally.
What is the core offering of FreightBro?
FreightBro is India’s first Freight Forwarder facing platform. Freight forwarders are supposed to be asset light and they facilitate the movement of cargo. Being at the center of all the action, the freight forwarder/ 3PL end up fire-fighting most of the times. The user experience goes unwatched and hence the key differentiator becomes price like any other commodity markets. FreightBro enables these 3PLs to digitize their key processes like sales, procurement, operations and also gives end to end visibility to their customers. During digitization, the manual tasks are automated increasing efficiencies and thereby reducing costs of logistics. We see a reduction in 50% of sales costs and 70% of operations cost. The exporter or importer gets the best in class experience similar to online ticket booking platforms or net banking. FreightBro offers custom mobile application to 3PLs to search, book and track shipments without going through the manual processes. We offer a subscription model which is in line with the asset light model of 3PLs compared to traditional technology providers who charge a fortune for basic ERPs.
What is FreightBro’s mission?
Logistics spends as a percentage of GDP in India is 13% whereas developed countries were able to bring it down to less than 10%. By ensuring we introduce automation and right products in the industry we are determined to bring the number down. This has a significant impact on the commercial value of the products as well. Majority of the items around us are imported or exported and hence this age-old industry can be made efficient with latest tech.
How has digital freight forwarding evolved?
The centuries old freight forwarding industry has come a long way from the pen and paper days to a computer based system which made it easier to store data and track it whenever required. Now software based logistics solutions have made it easier for freight forwarders to manage a heavier workload in a shorter span of time. All of this has drastically improved the customer experience. The United States Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, for example, estimates that the value of freight being moved was expected to rise from its high of $882 per ton in 2007 to an incredible $1,377 per ton by as soon as 2040.
We raised our seed round of funding last year from Suresh Kumar, former Global CIO of Bank of New York Mellon. Mr. Kumar is also an advisor to the firm.
What are your future plans?
We plan to continue working on our IP to ease the workload for freight forwarders and save their time. We are also looking to expand to Sri Lanka (Colombo) and SEA markets followed by Europe in the next couple of years.