We see countless commercial vehicles plying on the city roads everyday. Be it a छोटा हाथी or a Tata 407, these commercial vehicles form a crucial bloodline to transport goods in Indian cities.
About 50% of India’s $90 billion transportation logistics market is in the short haul and last mile delivery sectors. 30% of this is currently serviced by 3PL, with the remaining 70% fragmented among a large number of small vendors and driver-cum-owners. Small transporters typically operate a fleet of 5–15 vehicles and rent them out under fixed contracts to their clients. Others drive their own vehicle (Driver-cum-Owner or DCO model) and seek business through freight consolidators and brokers who take a commission. Last year Shadowfax launched Insta Hulk service to reach out to this $12 billion market.
Shadowfax launches Insta Hulk: Bada hai toh better hai!
The company already had the biggest e-commerce and offline customers in the country across domains like retail, electronics, pharma and FMCG. It made sense for Shadowfax to add capacity by onboarding a whole new category of delivery vehicles itself. In addition to partnering with the transporters, Shadowfax’s team spent time to understand the driver-cum-owner model. They noticed that the transporter usually did not assume a lot of responsibility in cases when the vehicle broke down in transit, or the driver went missing. They also found out that the drivers themselves felt even less responsible and lacked passion towards their work.
As the team started building the supply, they saw an opportunity to connect these driver-cum-owners to Shadowfax’s platform. The company could save costs on transporters’ commissions, pay the drivers up to 4 times better and have better control over the fleet. Preliminary customer feedback from a few drivers suggested that the drivers were keen to try the service out. As a result, the company started the model sometime back and has started on-boarding partners across major cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad. We spoke to one of them, Venkatesh KC, to learn about his experience working on the platform.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Venkatesh.
I am 45 year old man, I belong to Whitefield in Bengaluru. Have 2 wonderful daughters and a loving wife. I have worked in the industry for 30+ years for logistics companies as well as ecommerce clients. I used to deliver ecommerce shipments for a large e-commerce company before I joined Shadowfax four months back.
I see. Why did you make the switch?
One of my friends, Chandru, who was working with Shadowfax invited me over. He mentioned that the work hours and quality of life at Shadowfax is significantly better. I was working long hours at my previous company. I had to sleep in the vehicle itself at times. Most importantly, for the two weeks before Chandru told me about Shadowfax, my employer had delayed my payment by as much as 1 month which put me in a lot of financial stress. I thought I should try Shadowfax.
Makes sense. Did you find the work different at Shadowfax?
I most definitely did. The initial few days in a month are definitely longer in that I have to make 8 to 10 deliveries everyday. But that’s pretty much how it goes in the industry. Most of my days, my work hours are fairly comfortable. Earlier, I used to work from 4 am in the morning, to as late as 2 am in the night. As I said earlier, there were days that I couldn’t go back home, and I had to sleep in my vehicle itself. My health was going bad, and my family felt I was not giving them the attention they deserved. At Shadowfax, I have better control over my schedule. Most days start at 7:30 am and end by 9:00 pm. I can even afford to take one day out of every week to spend time with family and manage relationships back home, which is an essential part of life.
Glad to see that you were able to find a healthier schedule at Shadowfax. What else do you like here?
Sure. The work feels more stable at Shadowfax. I have a comfortable schedule. I also have a decent foresight of how much I am going to make in the month. As a matter of fact, I find the mobile application really helpful. I am delighted that I can receive orders and track my payouts simply at a finger tap. This stability at work allows me to better commit to the job. I didn’t feel such a sense of attachment to my work earlier. A higher commitment on my part also helps the company. For example, say there is a vehicular breakdown or that the vehicle is stuck at a police checkpoint. Since I feel more responsible, I now work harder to find solutions and get out of that situation rather than a passive approach I took earlier where I just let it be. It certainly feels to me that Shadowfax’s team respects sincerity and work ethics which further makes me want to continue to be good at my work.
Glad to hear that. What about compensation? Are you making more money than you did earlier?
Yes. Earlier, I used to gross Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 70,000 a month at my previous job. However, after covering the costs of fuel, maintenance and other miscellaneous expenses, I could only save ~Rs. 20,000 for the family. This has grown 50% since I joined Shadowfax.
It is awesome that you really have it good here. Any plans for the future?
I want to add another vehicle in the next 6 to 12 months. Where I am struggling is to find a person who shares my passion towards this work. See, I have driven commercial vehicles for over 30 years. I even bought a 40-wheel trailer and used to ship across state borders myself. This was about 8 to 10 years back. But then, the business took a dip. Meanwhile, the kids were growing up as well. I decided to sell the trailer off, moved to the city and bought a 407 that I drive now. I take my work seriously. I soon hope to find another person who does and get him or her on my team, add another vehicle with Shadowfax and grow my business :)
It was heartening to hear from Venkatesh. We can all salute his spirit and wish that more and more people in the industry can derive this sense of fulfilment from their work and feel committed towards the work they do. Shadowfax now knows what makes this magic happen for its Hulk partners, thank to Venkatesh. The company plans to grow fast and get the first 1000 vehicle owner-cum-drivers on Shadowfax’s platform.