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   Vol. 16 No. 84
Wednesday October 18, 2017

Cogoport On Line India Logistics
Purnendu Shekhar

      “We are driven by the pains of our customer and that’s basically the soul of our organization. Our core mission is to decentralize things for efficiency and use available resources in the ecosystem for best use of customers.”
      That quote came from Cogoport Founder and CEO Purnendu Shekhar.
      Set up in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, Cogoport is an online logistics platform that will provide the best air freight rates for customers. The services will start in a couple of months. It is already doing that for ocean rates. An industry veteran—Shekhar has been in the “industry ecosystem for 22-odd years”—he had the distinct feeling that he was being left out of “logistics.” He wanted to transform the “ecosystem's existing framework and put customers at the top of the list. So Cogoport was born.
      Shekhar explained that logistics made up around 14.4 percent of India’s GDP. The Indian freight market, he said, was estimated to reach $ 300bn by 2020, of which the international freight component would be around $40bn and would grow at an estimated 12-14 percent CAGR. “This segment is complex and inefficient with multiple players adding layers of opacity leading to significant cost to the buyer and sub-optimal capacity utilization for suppliers.” Simply put, a fragmented, localized, scale-inefficient and technology-deprived market made the opportunity size “huge,” he emphasized.
      What Cogoport does as an online international freight exchange is provide price discovery and booking using a data-driven technology solution, enabling a simpler, smoother, and seamless freight booking experience for international freight.
      “The value proposition of Cogoport centers around seamless and quality services at the best price for business houses to export and import goods warehouse to warehouse through a transparent, full-stack solution for all stakeholders from the convenience of their mobiles and PCs,” said Shekhar.  
      The online platform has been certified under the ‘Startup India’ initiative of the government (under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion). “We are confident we will be able to leverage the ‘Make in India-led initiatives’ and derive benefits along the line,” said Shekhar.
      Cogoport was quite aware of the challenges when it launched in May 2017, but Shekhar and his team have been concentrating on customer-centricity. “That’s basically the soul of our organization,” he said. To achieve this, technology has been enabled. Also, the company “decentralizes things for efficiency and uses available resources in the ecosystem for best use of customers,” he pointed out. “Our space is B2B and we understand how it works so we work the way our customer works without trying to impose ourselves on them and this really sets us apart from all,” he said.
      Delving into the working of the system, Shekhar’s team members said that the platform’s complex algorithm takes millions of line items—prices, transit times, vessel details for 100,000 port pairs across the world and hundreds of suppliers—runs through distributed computing models, and displays best freight rates in the personalized dashboard of an importer and exporter, where it can then be booked in a single click. After the shipment is booked, the operations dashboard allows customers to track the shipments and also provides numerous analytics around that particular shipment.
      “Right now our priority is to shrink this century-old business into a smartphone screen and in a very short future that will get replaced by a voice command. We are constantly bringing new innovations to this industry and with the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, in the near future we will be launching our own cryptocurrency to bring uniformity in freight prices,” said Shekhar.
      Cogoport believes in the democratization of freight and services. While large MNCs want transparency and small organizations need price benefit, Cogoport pointed out that it has a perfect value proposition for both.
      Barely a few months old, Cogoport has made its mark with 1,700 registered clients. The revenue growth, according to Shekhar’s team, has been strong. Cogoport is currently clocking an annual revenue rate of $10 million while the volume rate has been annualized at 9,000 containers and 2,500 truck moves, with ocean freight accounting for 95 percent of it.
      Shekhar hopes he will be able to see the same enthusiasm from the air freight community when Cogoport opens its portal for air transport.
      For the moment, Cogoport is not interested in making profits. It wants to scale up and then it will think of revenue streams, which will be largely from suppliers’ commissions and commissions from banks and other financial institutions.
Tirthankar Ghosh

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