Traffic congestion is part and parcel of life in most Indian cities with narrow roads, lanes and bylanes often making it impossible for big trucks to ply leading to a logistics nightmare for companies and even individuals to move goods from one place to another.
Cambridge Judge Business School alumnus Mithun Srivatsa (MBA 2011) saw an opportunity and co-founded the logistics company Blowhorn in his hometown Bangalore in 2014.
Since then, the company’s operations have expanded to Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. As CEO of the company that employs 120 employees, Mithun is involved in the operation of around 1000 mini trucks.
Unlike the big trucks that are barred from entering most of the Indian cities during daytime and a large part of the night, mini trucks could negotiate narrow congested streets without much problem.
Mithun is quoted in a blog entry on Cambridge Judge website that he hit upon the idea to start the logistics venture on finding businesses and people struggling to find an affordable and sustainable way of moving stuff.
Blowhorn caters to all sorts of customers range from large e-commerce companies to small grocery or fruit stores, even a family of four moving house. The trucks may just have to travel from one locality to another within a city or several hundred kilometres to another state.
“I spent the first three months in a mini-truck as I wanted to get a first-hand experience of how it actually works, talking to customers and improving our service to match their expectations,”
During a visit to Cambridge Judge last autumn, he interacted with a group of MBA students and others interested in entrepreneurship. He said, he had for long, wanted to launch his own company.
He found the opening in logistics while engaged in a consulting role for few months for Walmart Labs, as colleagues frequently sought his help about shifting goods from house to house.
Mithun undertook extensive market research on the sector and developed the strategy to use small trucks to move goods. The company has developed a mobile app where customers can specify their needs, book a truck and keeping track of the entire journey. Much like taxi cab aggregators like Uber, all it takes is a few taps on the mobile app to have the truck come to their doorstep.
He says the customers like the flexibility in not having to own a truck or rent one. The drivers also lend a hand in loading the goods.
Mithun’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is to develop an intimate knowledge of the business to achieve success.
“I spent the first three months in a mini-truck as I wanted to get a first-hand experience of how it actually works, talking to customers and improving our service to match their expectations,” he says.
About Blowhorn co-founder Nikhil Shivaprasad, Mithun says as the CTO, he deals with the technological aspects of the business. Nikhil also does not shy away from asking difficult questions.
Mithun is of the opinion that a lot of startups fail because co-founders start to disagree but don’t talk openly about it. “It’s like a marriage – you need to communicate, or otherwise it won’t work,” he says
The company raised $4m in Series A to enable further scale-up and hopes to soon expand to another 20 cities in India with more than 10 million people. Their investors include reputed players like IDG Ventures, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Draper Associates.
While waiting for the right idea and correct timing are essential while starting your own business, the most important thing is dedication, he says.
“Blowhorn is my passion and this really helps if you’re running a business in a developing country, as this will keep you going as you’ll get a lot of struggles along the way. Not everyone can be a billionaire entrepreneur, but even small changes can make a big shift in the society because every person can make a difference,” he adds.
He was among the 50 future leaders from 11 countries at the British Council Future Leaders Connect Programme in Cambridge and the House of Lords, selected to present ideas and discuss global policy issues such as education, food security and climate change.