FreightBro - For a Smooth Freight Forwarding Experience

In a world, where everything is accessible on the screen touch of the smartphones, it wouldn't be a surprise if we had a technology that made the logistics process swift and easy as a fiddle. One such initiative is FreightBro founded by Raghavendran Viswanathan, Mohammed Zakkiria, and V Anand Babu in the year 2016. FreightBro is an intuitive digital platform that enables forwarders to procure rates faster, reduce inefficiencies, boost sales, make data-driven decisions and provide seamless customer experience.

FreightBro Highlights

Startup Name FreightBro
Headquarter Chennai
Co-founders Raghavendran Viswanathan, Mohammed Zakkiria & V Anand Babu
Sector Freight Technology
Founded October, 2016
Parent Organization FreightBro Logistics Pvt. Ltd
Website freightbro.com

About FreightBro and How it Works
FreightBro - Target Market
FreightBro - Founders and Team
How was FreightBro Started
FreightBro - Name, Tagline and Logo
FreightBro - Business Model and Revenue Model
FreightBro - Funding and Investors
FreightBro - Partenrships
FreightBro - Startup Challenges
FreightBro - Competitors
FreightBro - Awards & Recognitons
FreightBro - Future Plans

About FreightBro and How it Works

The idea behind FreightBro is to democratize technology for freight forwarders and enable them to digitize their services to deliver an exceptional user experience. The mission here is to enable the digitization of global trade. Digitization of global trade can be attained by making technology accessible to freight forwarders. FreightBro helps tackle shipment inefficiencies and uplift the freight forwarding experience with solutions such as rate management, price discovery, instant quote creation, quote management, shipment management, shipment tracking all on a single platform.

As SaaS (Software as a Service) based company, FreightBro offers web and mobile-based applications to forwarders & 3PLs which can digitize their key processes like sales, procurement, operations and give an end to end visibility to their customers. Digitization here refers to the automation of the manual and repetitive tasks that increase overall efficiencies and reduce logistics costs considerably. FreightBro platform impacts an approximate reduction of 50% of sales costs and 70% of operations costs.

FreightBro Dashboard
FreightBro Dashboard

FreightBro is trying to solve issues regarding inefficiencies & speed in the logistics and freight forwarding industry that have never been addressed before. The time taken from inquiry to quote to book to actual cargo movement to visibility & data insights isn't smooth and comes with major inefficiencies. Multiple communication channels are involved and activity as basic as procuring rates essentially comprises of multiple emails, phone calls or complex spreadsheets. Workflow automation is very much required in everyday operations and here is where FreightBro steps in. This provides real-time visibility and information, data standards and predictive analytics for businesses. FreightBro's solutions help save 70% time, 50% cost that further increases sales by 30%.

The fact that the FreightBro platform is built to be an enabler is the biggest differentiator as a product in the industry. We built the product around the whole belief that the for the digital revolution to thrive in the industry, it needs more enablers than disruptors - Raghavendran quotes explaining FreightBro's USP

The FreightBro team believes in enabling the forwarders to grow and stride the digitization wave in the industry rather than disrupting the ecosystem or wiping freight forwarders off. Therefore FreightBro aims to emerge as an enabler of change and not a disruptor in the ecosystem

FreightBro Team
FreightBro Team 

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FreightBro - Target Market

The entire logistics market is estimated at 4.3 Trillion which includes 700+ billion 3rd party logistics service providers & 150+ billion freight forwarders. Top 50 players hold major market share. Freight Forwarding is a 150 billion dollar industry globally. The Indian logistics Market size is 17 million TEU. There has been an approximate 10 percent growth year on year for the SME Market and a steady introduction of small and medium-sized players in the industry. Therefore, the demand for digitization is increasing and thus poses a promising potential for growth.

FreightBro - Founders and Team

Raghavendran Viswanathan, V Anand Babu, and Mohammed Zakkiria. A, co-founded FreightBro.

FreightBro CEO Raghavendran Viswanathan, is responsible for strategizing and managing the team at FreightBro. With his expertise in technology and logistics, he aims to solve the freight forwarding industries' complex challenges. Before FreightBro, Raghavendran was the Business Development Manager at Panalpina, a Swiss company and one of the world's leading providers of supply chain solutions. Before Panalpina, he was the Territory Manager at DHL handling diverse responsibilities. He has earlier worked at Vodafone and HCL Technologies in technical roles.

Raghavendran is an MBA in Sales, Distribution, and Marketing from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, where he was also part of the entrepreneurship cell. He studied engineering from Anna University, Chennai in Electrical and Electronics.

V Anand Babu, Director & Co-founder, FreightBro heads the Partnerships vertical while mentoring and nurturing organizational growth. His primary aim is to research and enable synergies between various partners and vendors enabling organizational growth through the creation of global opportunities.

A veteran in the logistics industry, Anand was associated with AP Moller Maersk Group, a leading logistics company, for over 25 years. Anand has also been a part-time faculty at the Indian Institute of Logistics and was actively involved in social causes as the President of the Rotary Club of Chennai for a significant period.

Mohammed Zakkiria is responsible for strategizing the company's growth and heads marketing functions. Mohammed quit his well-paying job to realize the dream of solving real-world freight forwarding problems using technology and innovation. He has been involved right from the ideation stage and along with like-minded industry, veterans have built a core team that is rich in extensive industry knowledge and expertise. With over 14 years of experience in international freight forwarding, he has held a broad range of leadership positions across sales, marketing, and global customer management has generated 20+ million sales deals and managed logistics operations of many Fortune 500 companies for their India movements.

Before FreightBro, Mohammed held the position of Sales Head of Cargo Partner, responsible for top-line growth including direct sales and strategic initiatives. He has also been associated with leading organizations such as Panalpina, DHL, and Damco in the past.

Mohammed was born in Pollachi and graduated in Computer science, he also holds a Masters in International Business from Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. Mohammed lives in Chennai with his wife and a daughter and is a startup enthusiast. He is also a keen photographer and loves trekking. He aims to make FreightBro a global brand in logistics technology space and build a solid ecosystem in India.

Mr. Viswanathan worked with Mohammed Zakkiria at Panalpina and they used to brainstorm about how all other industries leveraged technology to improve user experience to drive business and growth. They drew parallels to the logistics industry and intended to do the same for the industry that had overlooked delivering an excellent end-user experience for quite some time. After careful understanding of the business and weighing in the risks of industry adaptation, they met Mohammed's ex-colleague Anand Babu. The discussion between the trio assured that they were in the right space and time and further led three of them to start FreightBro to simplify freight forwarding processes for hundreds of enterprises globally.

Currently, FreightBro's employee strength is 70+ between Mumbai and Chennai offices.

FreightBro Team
FreightBro Team

How was FreightBro Started

Mr. Viswanathan always wanted to have a business of his own. His career in the logistics sector was an unplanned one and happened by chance post his MBA. Working with DHL and Panalpina gave him an understanding of the logistics and freight forwarding industry and the nuances of the business. His ex-colleague, Mohammed whom he met at Panalpina and now the current partner of FreightBro, played a major role in its inception. After analyzing the business implications and a meeting with Anand Babu (also a current Co-founder at FreightBro), this magnanimous entrepreneurial journey began.

The trio designed an initial MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and regularly did feedback visits with possible customers. About the product validation stage, Raghavendran says-

Feedback visit is when you visit a possible client with the Minimum Viable Product which is still in ideation/ conception and seek their feedback about what they think of the product and will it be a good one. So on one such visit we met our first client, he listened to us and was excited about our product and was kind enough to give suggestions to improve as per the industry

Ideation and prototyping happened together. In B2B SME space, the customers would like to see the product rather than listening to an idea. Hence they went with the first cut of working product to their first customer and the willingness to pay for the skeleton or just the concept was the proof of the pudding.

The FreightBro founders also spoke to one or two representatives from all domains of the supply chain apart from speaking with their potential customers. They wanted to get feedback from the supply chain ecosystem as logistics is just a network-driven play. The team kept correcting their product based on the feedback and strengthened their value proposition.

FreightBro pivoted twice from the initial product. Both times, the pivot was market-driven and to cater to customer needs. The pivot is specific to the Indian market and as a startup, they intend to keep their ears on the ground and pivot if necessary for other markets as well.

FreightBro Team
FreightBro Team

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Freight forwarders were called FreightBrokers / FreightBrokerage firms in the past. FreightBro is a short form of Freight Broker that just stuck with all the key members as a catchy and relevant title.  The logo is a representation of the digital elements of 1 and 0 as i and o connected by a curve which can also be interpreted as a connection between input and output in a digital context. The colors used are Blue, Orange, and Black each of them representing the ocean, air, and surface respectively.

FreightBro Logo
FreightBro Logo

FreightBro - Business Model and Revenue Model

FreightBro is a cloud-based SaaS platform and has a pay per user model. It can also work on a per-bill value model.

FreightBro - Funding and Investors

FreightBro raised seed funding in May 2018.

Date Stage Amount Investors
May 2018 Seed Undisclosed Suresh Kumar (former global CIO of Bank of New York Mellon)

FreightBro - Partenrships

FreightBro partnered with Port Of Wilhelmshaven, Germany's only deep-water port situated between the river Ems and Western, as their official digital partner to facilitate trade and digital transformation of shipping. Port Of Wilhelmshaven is the first port to be a part of FreightBro's official partner ecosystem that consists of all major shipping lines, transporters, insurance companies, trade, and finance entities. It is a significant central transshipment location for bulk commodities. The partnership promises both of them access to each other's market and connection with stakeholders in respective countries.

FreightBro, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The National Association of Freight and Logistics, (NAFL), Dubai, to help their 400+ members to digitize their services. With this partnership, the forwarders in the Middle East region can now access import rates of China and India on the go and book shipments instantly. The platform enables them to manage quotations, shipments, communication, and visibility on the go.

Also, they have recently joined the Digital Hub Logistics, Hamburg as the first Indian Startup to join the network of German startups and corporates.

FreightBro - Startup Challenges

Since they do not have direct competition and the product isn’t a regular ERP convincing the industry the need or rather creating a need for it as a solution for logistics way forward was an evident challenge. To convince that this product would be imperative for the survival of a Freight Forwarder without using it in the first go was a challenge. The benefits of the platform can only be understood after a freight forwarder has used it firsthand which was evident from the fact that after one Freight forwarder started using it, the word of mouth marketing worked.

FreightBro - Competitors

There's no direct competition to FreightBro in the market but that doesn't mean that it operates in a monopolistic market. There are players like iContainers solutions SL, COGO Freight Pvt Ltd, Cargomatic to only name a few that provide similar and other kinds of services.

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FreightBro - Awards & Recognitons

  • FreightBro has been listed in NASSCOM 10000 Startup-2016 and CIBA- Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration and Startup India-2017.
  • Won E-commerce Startup Award at 10th South-East India Cargo & Logistics Awards 2018 (Chennai)
  • Digital Transformation Award - Finalist at by Lloyd's Loading List Global Freight Awards 2018 (London)
  • Best SaaS Solution of the year-  4th Indian ISV Awards under Startup category

FreightBro - Future Plans

They started with bootstrapping mainly. The initial capital came from promoters, friends and family. FreightBro has grown 100 percent quarterly to date. From a bootstrapped startup to a million-dollar revenue in two and a half years, they have come a long way. And they plan to continue working on their IP to ease the workload for freight forwarders and save their time.

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About Chayanika Goswami

  • Assam