India’s logistics automation startup Locus has pulled in $4 million in funding to grow its global footprint outside of its native India.
Locus is an intelligent logistics automation platform with in-built route planning and vehicle allocation engine which improves consistency and efficiency of operations, higher customer satisfaction with high adherence to SLAs & last mile live tracking.
The three year old platform helps companies and enterprises in e-commerce, food delivery, FMCG and other verticals to automate and optimize their logistics. The product suite comprises of a route deviation engine, order dispatch automation, a field user app, route optimizations, scheduling, tracking for end-customer, and predictive analytics. Offering the entire technology stack, in the form of a platform as a service.
The latest funding round is a pre-Series B and it was provided by Rocketship.vc, Recruit Strategic Partners, pi Ventures and DSP Group’s Hemendra Kothari. Existing backers Blume Ventures, Exfinity Venture Partners, BeeNext and growX ventures also took part. Bengaluru-based Locus previously raised a $2.75 million Series A in 2016.
Nishith Rastogi and Geet Garg, two ex Amazon engineers who met when working on machine learning for AWS founded the company in 2015. At first the duo developed a safety app that mapped out optimal routes to let a ride-hailing customer sense if their driver was going rogue and not sticking to the designated trip, but it later pivoted into logistics tracking after feedback from enterprise users.
Currently Locus is focused on helping customers optimize the operational side of their logistics, whether that is moving people, goods or more at scale. It doesn’t cover ride-hailing and it isn’t necessarily focused on ensuring the faster route. Instead, it tackles complex challenges such as helping FCMGs optimize travel for their management — the key focus being on spending as much time in stores for meetings — or helping organizations move large orders by figuring out how many trucks are needed, which routes are optimal, etc.
Co-founder and CEO Rastogi described the role as that of “chief supply chain officer.”
“We want to automate all human decisions around logistics,” he explained in an interview, adding that the business makes use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to suss out routes and operational approaches.
He went on to say that the machine-based approach can trump human logic in some cases, thanks to the sheer amounts of data it is based on. In one example, he explained how the Locus system had advised trucks taking a long haul trip to return to the client HQ using a different route. Initially the team figured there was a problem, but on closer inspection they found that the return route cut out a steep hill which, while fine to travel down on the outbound led, was best avoided on the return trip.
As per Rastogi that particular decision was based on travel data that the system had observed and might not ordinarily have been made by human-based analysts. To help with the system, the company also provides a $500-priced scanner — “SizeUp,” pictured below — for measuring packages. The idea is to not only make the tech portable but affordable enough that it can be used companies of all sizes.
The company began to expand to overseas markets this year with moves into North America — both Canada and the U.S. — and Southeast Asia. Rastogi said the new capital will go towards expanding its presence in those markets. Later this year, he said, Locus plans to raise a “significant” Series B round, among the objectives for that is a dedicated technical team in Tel Aviv to complement the work happening in India.
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