India’s startup culture is undergoing a once in a lifetime revolution, attracting attention from global investors amid a rapid growth in the industry. Backed by this, 15 Indian start-ups have evolved into unicorns this year already. Now, online trucking start-up BlackBuck has become the latest addition to this list after raising $67 million in Series E funding on Thursday, taking its valuation to $1.02 billion.
The six-year-old start-up was valued at about $850 million during its Series D funding round back in 2019.
The funding round was led by Silicon Valley-based venture fund Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund, and VEF. Existing investors Wellington Management, Sands Capital, and International Finance Corporation also participated in this round.
According to the company, the fresh capital would be utilized to deepen its presence in the country, launch new services for its customer base, and invest heavily in product and data science capabilities to strike better efficiency in freight matching for the Indian trucking ecosystem. It also aims to ramp up its financial services and insurance offerings through partnerships.
The rise of BlackBuck into a unicorn is a blessing for the trucking system in India, as the Bengaluru-based start-up is known for connecting truck owners and freight operators and digitizing the freight and logistics sector in the country. With nearly 7,00,000 truckers and 1.2 million trucks in India connected to its platform, the firm clocks over 15 million monthly transactions. Its app helps truck drivers accept work and navigate to their destinations using Google Maps.
According to BlackBuck CEO and co-founder Rajesh Yabaji, the firm saw a shift in demand in recent times, with the majority coming from small businesses, brokers, and large-scale outfits against major enterprises. The firm also witnessed a growth of 20 times in supply while demand has grown by 10 times over the last two years, he said.
“When we started BlackBuck in 2015, only 40% of truck owners had smartphones and for truck drivers, that adoption was just 7%. By 2019, 100% of truck owners and 70% of truck drivers had smartphones,” he said, adding, “On top of this, the government started pushing the digital adoption. There’s a digital toll system now, and many state governments have made GPS mandatory.”
BlackBuck has over 10,000 customers, including SMEs companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Reliance, Coca Cola, Asian Paints, Tata, Vedanta, L&T, and Jindal.
“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,” said Arjun Sethi, co-founder, and partner at Tribe Capital.
Undoubtedly, this is good news for the start-up ecosystem and the trucking system as a whole, and it is hoped that more Indian start-ups will join the coveted “unicorn family” in the days to come.