Rekha Atri – Founder of iKargos, Transforming India’s Cargo Management Industry
In an exclusive interview with Indian Business Times, Rekha Atri – founder of iKargos discusses about the much needed solutions in the cargo management industry to streamline shipping and tracking processes to avoid irregularities in this highly unorganised space.
We live in a world that is rapidly shrinking in the sense that transactions between various companies and individuals have become easier than ever. If one starts a business in this modern age, he/she considers the entire world to be the target market from the word go.
That is enabled by global logistics management and supply chain industry. From importing raw materials to exporting finished goods, logistics companies play a crucial role in ensuring business expansion for any country. Traditionally, this industry has largely been unorganized and monopolized by a handful of companies that are operating with huge profit margins. Hence, the need for a tech enabled Digital logistics management system and supply chain solutions was long overdue.
Recognizing this gap in the market, Rekha Atri – Founder of iKargos, decided to lead the charge by establishing a company, which adopts modern technology and offers transparency to the customers who wish to deal with the imports or exports for private or commercial purposes. iKargos deals with various aspects of cargo management services including real-time tracking, certifications for imports/exports, freight information, rates, HS codes, etc.
In an exclusive interview with Indian Business Times, Rekha Atri brings forth the challenges in the logistics scene and highlights the innovative solutions that her company provides.
Q.1 Ms. Rekha Atri, logistics and supply chain businesses have always been quite unorganized, is it because of lack of technology or lack of initiative by entrepreneurs?
A. International supply chain is chaotic by its very nature and organizing it is not an easy task. Also, a lot of players generate higher margins since the customers do not have enough knowledge about the various issues. Being unorganized works to the advantage of these players. For example, shipping lines and forwarders sell the same container space at different rates and different margins. If there’s a system that offers transparent rates their margins will be pared.
Also, Logistics and supply chain has always been running on legacy systems. It will take a significant effort for the entire supply chain to go digital. However, someone has to take the first step, hence we decided to launch ikargos.com.
Q.2 We would love to know the reason behind launching iKargos, every startup founder has an inspiring thought behind starting a new venture, what were your reasons to start iKargos?
A. My primary motivation to move into this project was after seeing many of my friends dissatisfied with their cargo handling. There was one case where the importer had to pay 200% duty without being aware of the cost before ordering the shipment and another case in which, the client was not aware when the shipment had reached and that resulted in demurrage cost and late penalty charges running in lakhs of rupees.
Also, due to Covid-19, many issues came to the fore as most forwarders, customs brokers, transporters could not function at all. The need to reduce human interaction was very clear and that was my call-to-action. The pandemic has left people stressed with their jobs and health and in such a scenario, shipping service provision should be seamless and effortless. I made sure that I don’t miss this opportunity when it’s needed the most and hence worked on both these areas during these stressful times. Thankfully, my experience had me ready for my new job.
Working at Navbharat Shipping India Ltd gave me excellent visibility into the international logistics industry. Since we were managing warehouse-to-warehouse movements of cargo I got first-hand experience of freight forwarding, Customs Clearance, Transportation, Warehousing etc.
Being a consultant for most part of my career I could see the various opportunities where we could optimize the supply chain.
Q.3 iKargos has a very interesting solution for Online Cargo Management, we would like you to tell our readers about your primary target audience and how does iKargos earn most of its revenue?
A. Our target audience is anyone who wants to move cargo internationally be it imports or exports.
We offer our customers peace of mind. Just tell us where you want the cargo to be picked up and delivered and we do the rest for you. We are the only company that provides a one-stop-shop for everything required to import and export goods. The primary service lines are as follows:
1. Certifications: Find out information about various certifications required to import/export products, like LMPC, WPC ETA, BIS, FSSAI, Form 43, Form 10 etc . We also help our customers get these certifications.
2. HS Codes: Search for Real shipment data like description, the value of the cargo, HS code used, certification required etc.
3. Catalogue Verification: Upload catalogues to check their correct HS codes and whether they can be imported or exported
4. Freight: Search for all-inclusive freight rates. Choose from a variety of options.
5. Tracking: Check the exact status of your cargo
6. Reports: Request market reports based on actual customs and market data about various products
Q.4 How difficult was it to raise funds initially for the company? Would you like to share some tips with our readers about the clarity a founder or a company needs to have in order to raise funds? We are sure many budding entrepreneurs would be waiting to read this one.
A. Most of our funds have been bootstrapped. I personally believe that borrowed/outside funds should not be used for experimentation or pivoting the idea. It’s important that we have enough conviction in the business to risk our own money. Also, it’s a bad idea to dilute too early. One should remain frugal and sustain as much as possible on their own funds. Once you hit a certain scale and have a successful business model, funds should be raised for further expansion.
Q.5 Would you like to disclose your portfolio of clients who are using your services?
A. We have clientele from across the spectrum that varies from eCommerce companies to chemical companies, from mining companies to IT companies. Our diverse service line ensures that we can do something or the other for everyone in international business.
Q.6 How receptive has the Indian market been for the business solution iKargos offers? What are some of the upcoming plans of the company to have a stronger footprint in the market?
A. The response has been very encouraging. Given that most of the market is unorganised the customers are pleasantly surprised to be dealing with professionals. Our feedback has been excellent. We have more than 100 5-star reviews on Google.
Q.7 Apart from being operational in India, do you have any plans to expand overseas? If yes, then which markets is iKargos eying?
A. Our business by its very nature is global. We plan to cover south-east asia first followed by the US, Europe and Australia. We will have our presence across the globe by 2025.
Q.8 Being an entrepreneur, are you also working on other projects than iKargos?
A. No. iKargos has humongous potential. I am focusing my energy on iKargos to make it a global brand in the near future.
Q.9 In the end, we would like you to name those people/businessmen/entrepreneurs who have inspired you in your life.
A. My parents who are from the defense forces have always encouraged me to decide fast and move forward into the life I desire.
Then Ratan Tata sir is an inspiration not only as a successful business leader but as someone who managed to integrate inner values with outer actions in the real world.
I also follow Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma, his rags-to-riches story is full of wise counsel.
Well, that was our detailed interview with Rekha Atri who is spearheading her bootstrapped start-up iKargos to organise the cargo management space globally through innovative tech-driven solutions.