India’s BlackBuck valued at $1 billion in $67 million fundraise – TechCrunch

India’s trucking system has a big inefficiency problem that continues to drag the economy. BlackBuck, one of the handful of logistics startups that is trying to overhaul this system, has just attained the unicorn status after securing new funds.

Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund and VEF led the $67 million Series E financing round in the six-year-old startup, valuing it at $1.02 billion (up from about $850 million in 2019 Series D round), BlackBuck chief executive Rajesh Yabaji told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this week. BlackBuck is the 16th Indian startup to become a unicorn.

BlackBuck connects businesses with truck owners and freight operators. It has developed a simplified app for truck drivers in India, who are typically not very literate, to help them accept work and easily navigate to their destination using Google Maps. On the client side, businesses can fire up a similar app to place orders.

About 700,000 truckers and 1.2 million trucks in India today are connected to the platform, which sees over 15 million transactions each month. “India’s truckers did not go truly digital till 2019. Since then, the supply activity has gone up by 20 times,” said Yabaji.

During this period, BlackBuck, too, has transformed considerably. The platform has moved away from relying on call centres for booking orders to an app-based system. Today, Yabaji said the startup has reduced its reliance on brokers, who help connect them to truckers in smaller regions as more truckers and fleet owners now have smartphones and book directly.

“On the supply side, the platform was built in a way that it was agnostic to who was ordering. Anyone who has access to capacity in a particular location and at a particular time, has access to the load. On principal, we were okay with it from day 1,” he explained. “As we speak today, 95% of the load acceptance happens by small fleet owners who own two to three trucks.”

“India’s supply chain and logistics industry is moving from paper and pencil to digital. BlackBuck’s ability to measure output and productivity growth has streamlined logistical challenges for the industry over a short time frame. Its continued high velocity growth promises to bring even greater transformation to the Indian trucking ecosystem,” said Arjun Sethi, cofounder and partner at Tribe Capital, in a statement. (On a side note, Tribe Capital is in talks to back at least two more Indian startups, according to people with knowledge of the matter.)

This is a developing story. More to follow…


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