Business Today

The Relay Runner

Gazal Kalra has reduced working hours of truck drivers while increasing the efficiency of the logistics operations
Sonal Khetarpal   New Delhi     Print Edition: October 6, 2019
The Relay Runner
Gazal Kalra, Co-founder, Rivigo \ Photograph by Shekhar Ghosh

Gazal Kalra, the founder of logistics start-up Rivigo, is an odd presence in an industry that is usually associated with the brash and the rustic. She used her inquisitiveness to start a conversation with truck drivers, get their buy-in for overhauling their job and, in turn, built a long-lasting relationship with them.

In the last five years, this Gurugram-based company has changed the way truck logistics works through its patented relay model that has converted a long-haul trucking job into a short-haul one. Relay trucking works on a smart driver allocation system where a driver, called a pilot, drives for four-five hours and reaches a pit stop along the highway for duty change. This reduces transit time by 40 per cent and the driver reaches home the same day.

Kalra says Rivigo has "humanised" the job of truck drivers who usually are on the road for weeks at a stretch and live in poor, unhealthy conditions. "With relay trucking, it has become a day to day job. The drivers wear uniform to work and the truck is their office and not their home," she says. She says this has instilled a sense of dignity and balance in their life. "This is also economical and ensures better service," says Kalra.

The company has opened up its relay model to the wider trucking community and is doing pilots with small fleet owners where the latter will get access to its relay network, technology and pilots/drivers. The idea, says Kalra, is that technology should make life better. "We want to bring its benefits to millions of small fleet owners and make the logistics sector more efficient." At present, its fleet of 3,000 trucks covers 29,000 PIN codes by changing drivers at 70 pit stops.

The next mission is to get women truck drivers. "I think its possible with relay trucking. It's just a matter of time before women learn to drive trucks. Weve taken it up as a mandate. Thats when we would have changed the sector fundamentally."

The company has raised $217 million. Its latest round of Series E funding was of $65 million from existing investors Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners. In FY2018, gross sales were Rs 692.48 crore, up 78 per cent from the previous year.

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