Locus raises $50 million for its logistics management business

Locus, a startup that uses AI to help businesses map out their logistics, said on Wednesday it has raised $50 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its presence.

The new round, a Series C, was led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC. Qualcomm Ventures and existing investors Tiger Global Management and Falcon Edge also participated in the round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to $79 million. The new round valued the startup, which was founded in India, at about $300 million, said a person familiar with the matter.

Angel investors Amrish Rau (CEO of Pine Labs), Kunal Shah (CEO of CRED), Raju Reddy (founder of Sierra Atlantic), and Deb Deep Sengupta (former president and MD of SAP in South Asia) also participated in the round.

Locus helps its clients automate their logistics workload — tasks such as planning, organizing, transporting and tracking of inventories, and finding the best path to reach a destination — that have traditionally required intensive human labor, said Nishith Rastogi, CEO of Locus, in an interview with TechCrunch.

“When you order from Licious or BigBasket, for instance, they need to decide each day at their centres how many vehicles they need to use, and what size of vehicles they need to go with,” Rastogi explained. These clients, he said, also need to assign drivers based on how familiar they are with the delivery area, and factor in the traffic to determine at what time they should leave for delivery.

“We help our clients move beyond visibility into all of these decision-makings,” he said, adding that the startup uses proprietary algorithms and deep machine learning.

The startup — which operates in North America, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Indian subcontinent — says it has helped its customers save over $150 million in logistics costs and shaved off tens of millions of kilometres from their journey that they would have travelled otherwise.

Rastogi said the vast majority of the startup’s revenue today comes from international markets, especially North America. The startup said its platform is especially popular among FMCG, retail and e-commerce firms as well as those who need distribution partners.

Locus enters into categories where the cost of logistics is a big portion of cost of goods sold and where the profit margin is thin, he said. “At many distribution or e-commerce companies, the cost of logistics can be 40% of the good sold. This gives our clients a huge incentive to make some changes,” he said, adding that brands across the globe are increasingly beginning to explore ways to optimize their supply chain networks.

“Locus’ smart product suite is optimizing supply chain efficiencies by using machine learning to deliver real-time tracking and insights for the last mile fulfillment,” said Varsha Tagare, senior director at Qualcomm Technologies and managing director at Qualcomm Ventures, in a statement. “We’re excited to invest in Locus to enable logistics as a service and support their journey to become a global last-mile automation leader.”

Rastogi termed the new funding as “insurance money” as he said the startup already generates enough cash, but said the additional capital would help the startup as it looks to expand in additional markets and also broaden its technology team.