When I decided to build Freight Tiger

By Swapnil Shah/4 minutes read

Imagine: It’s a cold Sunday in Chicago, December 2006. My neighbour knocks on my door and excitedly hands me today’s newspaper – there’s an article he really wants me to read: “Bone-weary haulers raise risks on road” (https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-061210truckers-story-story.html)

Bone- weary haulers raise risks on road

I was a logistics man – a Lean Six Sigma black belt for Caterpillar’s 3PL business, implementing the Toyota Production System at customers’ logistics facilities. I worked across the US, including rural parts of Pennsylvania, Alabama and Mississippi.

The article outlined a reality I didn’t know was possible in 21st century America. The American trucking industry was inefficient – the system to organise and optimise trucks’ capacity was flawed. Independent truckers had punishing lifestyles, where they would wait in transit for days, exhausting themselves by driving from place to place to fill their trucks with cargo. Trucking-related accidents and deaths had become such a problem that the government had to get involved.

For someone who built efficient systems for a living, this systemic disorganisation was mind-boggling to me. When I returned to India, I realised that the situation was the same, just on a much larger scale. The logistics ecosystem sat on a base of outdated, manual and inefficient processes. An informal offline network, lack of standardisation and trust, combined with near-zero visibility, was leading to huge losses in time and money for every stakeholder in the system.

Most market solutions were only addressing sub-parts of the problem. This zoomed-in approach often created friction between stakeholders and was unable to build trust across the value chain. Without end-to-end streamlining, freight remained wasteful, with leakages at every handoff. And drivers’ health bore the brunt of the situation.

I set myself an audacious goal: to build India’s first intelligent and neutral operating system for freight – I’d combine this platform with operational expertise to enhance every step of the logistics process. Indian logistics needed to become a bullet train, and I was going to start by laying down the tracks. 

Thus, Freight Tiger was born. 

In order to fix the entire logistics ecosystem, we realised that all stakeholders have to have an equal seat in the digital landscape we were creating, including drivers. So we focused on enabling collaboration and inclusion and not disintermediation.

When building our platform, we decided to start where the demand originates- consignors and consignees. Visibility on demand will bring predictability to the processes in the value chain and allow for further optimisation to functions like tracking of trucks and shipment, precise arrival dates, and planning for supply for shippers to manage working capital, and submitting LRs and PODs remotely for transport companies. These solutions create a sizable impact by reducing procure to pay cycle, working capital, turn-around time of trips, and overall better working conditions.

This is only part of the solution. We also realised that only software and technology were not enough- we had to support it with operations and supply chain expertise. In doing all this we would finally be in a position to empower the driver, as it is only the power of a neutral network that makes this value creation possible. An example of this is our new driver rest stop in Godhra, Gujarat in collaboration with Saint Gobain Gyproc and IOCL, which will improve the road safety of drivers en-route, while also creating a positive business impact of reduced loss of goods, theft, insurance claims, etc for consignors and transport companies.  

Driver rest stop in Godhra, Gujarat
Driver rest stop in Godhra, Gujarat

I was lucky that top investors saw the potential a neutral network had to create a paradigm shift in the industry. We put together a highly experienced team and got to work. In the last 5  years, Freight Tiger has become India’s largest freight network. We serve over 400 shippers and 1500 transporters and processed around $2.3 billion worth of freight on our platform. 

The fast-track to modernization of the entire freight ecosystem will play a frontline role in the growth of India’s economy. By making logistics competitive, we make every single business and our country competitive. When a solution like ours is adopted at scale, we will be able to  transform commerce and build a flywheel for our economy.

As is often said: 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

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Authored By

Swapnil Shah

Founder and CEO at Freight Tiger

More about the Author

Swapnil Shah

Published on 03 Aug 2022


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