BlackBuck closes $70M to digitize freight and logistics across India

BlackBuck, a startup that is digitizing logistics and cross-country freighting in India, has closed out a $70 million Series C round.

The deal is led by new investor Sands Capital, with participation from World Bank’s IFC and existing investors Accel and e-commerce giant Flipkart. BlackBuck had previously raised $30 million, including a $20 million Series B in 2015. Yuri Milner-backed Apoletto is another investor.

The premise of BlackBuck is to bring increased efficiency and transparency to logistics in India through the use of technology. It isn’t alone, however. Its closest rival is Rivigo, which has taken on $115 million in financing from investors such as Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners, according to Crunchbase.

Bangalore-based BlackBuck, which was founded in April 2015, takes two routes to digitizing the logistics space. It operates a marketplace that connects organizations needing to move goods across India with truckers seeking work, or to maximize their loads with additional capacity.

In that respect, it is much-like an Uber for logistics — like Uber, BlackBuck is also “asset light,” meaning it doesn’t own trucks — and that plays into the second component of its platform, the execution side. BlackBuck offers tech to help track trucks during the transportation process, while also making things easier for drivers, too.

The money raised will go toward improving its technology, including matching and managing supply and demand, whilst also scaling out the business further. Right now, BlackBuck claims to work with more than 100,000 trucks across 300 locations, while its client roster includes some big names like Asian Paints, Unilever, Coke and Britannia.

Prices for clients are calculated dynamically, meaning that it depends on supply, demand and requirements of the job at any given time. CEO Rajesh Yabaji — one of a trio of co-founders — explained that most of the jobs are dispatched on an “on-demand” basis a day or so before the collection, although he added that BlackBuck does cater to more managed delivery schedules for some of its clientele, which he said spans from smaller organizations to larger MNCs.

Citing research from Novonous, BlackBuck estimates that road-based options account for 63 percent of all freight in India, with a current spend of around $140 billion per year. Yet, still the process remains disjointed as “nothing much has changed” in decades, Yabaji said.

That’s the opportunity that the company is attacking right now, but it is also keeping an eye out for opportunities overseas, too.

“The problem is universal, it’s global in nature,” he said in an interview. “But we need to completely crack this business model in our country first. The timing has to be right.”

When pushed on markets that BlackBuck might venture into, Yabaji explained that he sees potential in “similar markets [that are] closer to home,” such as Southeast Asia.