Related Expertise: Transportation and Logistics

Keep On Truckin'

An Interview with Gaurav Biswas, Founder & CEO, TruKKer

By Giuseppe Bonaccorsi and Chantal Chalouhi

TruKKer is the leading digital freight network operator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The company is well known for organizing, optimizing, and setting standards for logistics and fleet management. Employing cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) technologies, and on-the-ground operations, TruKKer stands out from competitors in information network management. Launched in UAE in 2016, TruKKer achieved 11,000 percent growth in its first two years and today serves 500+ businesses and thousands of retail clients, supplying their cargo movement needs, including line haul, port movements, home relocations, and last mile.

Recently, BCG Principal, Chantal Chalouhi, interviewed Gaurav Biswas to discuss TruKKer’s business model, expansion plans, market penetration, and how technology is used to spur growth and innovation.

Innovation Talks with BCG Middle East

In this returning BCG Middle East series, Innovation Talks, we interview leaders of key startups and innovative digital companies in the region, people who have built strong reputations as disruptors—leveraging digital technologies to address acute frictions in the market.

Innovation Talks focuses on consumer and industry trends, highlighting the ways in which digital and innovative companies tackle their most ominous challenges, and what they have to offer their local customers.

Our featured guests discuss how digital is enabling new business models and innovations that do not yet exist in our region—but will soon—and offer advice to young entrepreneurs who want to learn more about setting-up and growing startups in Middle East.

The impact of COVID on businesses is an important part of the debate as it has changed consumer trends and introduced new ways of working that are re-shaping their culture.

Tell us about TruKKer. What does the company offer to the freight market and what “pain points” do you solve for your customers?

Transportation is among the three largest industry sectors in the world—agriculture, construction, and transportation. In the transportation sector, drivers must deal with basic problems. For example, load capacity. Once I travel from A to B, do I have load available to travel from B to A?. Similarly, a client that is moving cars with one-sixth of its drivers often does not have answers to basic questions, such as, “will I get 20 trucks on time tomorrow?” Calling for a truck is not like hailing a taxi (in the pre-Uber days) where you step outside and wait for an empty taxi to pass by. Most taxis have meters and riders pay for the trip when they reach their destination. The transportation industry does not work like this. There is no standard pricing because the industry is built on a complex network of brokers and on information arbitrage—the simultaneous process of buying and selling assets.

TruKKer is unique in that we created a web of technology that provides transparency and control based on data points. So, when drivers are on the platform, we know exactly where they are, when they will be available, how many loads are completed, and their key performance indicators (KPIs) in terms of which ones are met and which ones are not. Similarly, our clients have access to this network of technology and demand information. Does the client need 20 trucks, 10 trucks, 5 trucks? How many trucks are needed the day after tomorrow? As all this information becomes transparent, the data points require a huge amount of control. This is TruKKer's business model—we create the network and the technology that manages massive amounts of information.

How would you “size” the logistics market? If you look at the GCC and then zoom in to look at the synergies and differences between UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other GCC countries.

This is TruKKer’s home ground. We were born in the GCC, and we thrive in the GCC. And we know that Saudi and UAE are the majors. You cannot be a GCC player without being a Saudi and UAE player; more so a Saudi player given the size of the market. In the GCC, we are talking about billions of dollars. The UAE and Saudi alone represent a $30 billion tab for trucking. If you consider all markets that TruKKer is in, it adds up to $75 billion. We are in Pakistan. We are in North Africa. We are in Oman and the smaller states. Right now, we are generating revenue in about 8 markets and by the end of the year we should be in 10 markets. In fact, everything we use has touched the truck in some way, shape, or form during its life. The GCC is no different. In fact, Saudi has the highest per-capita number of trucks in the world.

What is driving this increased market penetration or the truck-to-per capita number?

The number of registered trucks in Saudi is close to 1 million. Now, if you add the biggest transporters in Saudi, there are less than 50,000 trucks. So, the remaining trucks are perhaps obsolete and no longer in service. Still, the number of trucks owned by big transporters versus the number of trucks in the market is quite large.

Are you seeing an evolution in the market?

To be honest, the Middle East and GCC specifically are among the most exciting places to be in the world. There is a huge appetite to digitize, which comes directly from governments. If you look at the Transport General Authority in Saudi Arabia or the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai compared to authorities across the world, right now is a most opportune time. All authorities want to digitize and to encourage technology-based efficiencies in their markets. So, businesses today must be prepared for continuity. Successful businesses understand that the more digitized and automated they are—using key processes and technologies—the better prepared they are.

Our definition of a bionic company is one that connects technology, human resources, and outcomes in order to innovate and generate growth. How does this apply to TruKKer?

We need to be doing smarter things tomorrow than we are doing today. And what we do today needs to be a system. There needs to be a dashboard, that does exactly what you were doing yesterday, and now you’re only handling the exceptions on that dashboard. Then tomorrow, we analyze the dashboard and the day after that we make decisions on what needs to change based on our analyses. At some point, we are the one that says, “Ok, let's invest to make this better.” So, we are constantly graduating decision making as human beings. When somebody asks, “What are the main drivers of TruKKer's success?” the number one driver is not technology. Yes, this business is extremely technology enabled and is constantly being automated. But the main driver is execution. Our business is people focused. When we create a new solution, we need people to begin using that solution. Doing so requires planning and execution. For example, when our clients need to take 10 steps, we are there to help them take 3 steps today and 5 steps next week. So, execution is not only a very important part of our technology, but it also feeds into new technologies that we need to create.

Thank you, Gaurav, for being with us today and we wish you the best of luck in your future growth.