The logistics chain is huge. But in Nigeria, the focus has been narrowed to haulage primarily. Nonetheless, a logistics startup in Nigeria like Haulr.ng founded by Bright Williams is changing this narrative by focusing on the software side of the logistics business. In this Techawk interview, Bright Williams, Haulr.ng CEO discusses Haulr.ng, how he decided to become a founder and got funding for Haulr.ng, measures being put in place to ensure that the logistics startup does not crumble and much more.
Can you share your startup concept with us?
We simply built a device that helps logistics companies to automatically track their field operations easily and keep up with how their trucks are used in the field to mitigate illegal haulage, cargo theft and drive higher efficiency.
We do this by constantly measuring the weight and the location of trucks in real-time through our device and then by leveraging AI we can determine the status of jobs on the field, ensuring it’s safety and allowing managers to make better-informed decisions.
What prompted you to establish Haulr.ng?
After working in the industry for some years as an analyst, I realized that the staff had to spend a lot of time calling and interacting with drivers who are on the field just to get some information about the status of the job, etc… even when they were driving, which was not only inconvenient but dangerous.
This meant that it could take a tracking officer as much as 3 hours to get information on 50 trucks. Not only was this slow but also, the accuracy and authenticity of the information gotten from the drivers are questionable when an illegal operation is being carried out.
So, with this knowledge and understanding, I decided to go out to make the whole operations tracking experience easier, automated and more insightful by focusing on getting data on jobs directly from the field in a non-intrusive manner.
Talk to us about the moment you decided to become an entrepreneur? What did you have to do to be where you are today?
In my first 2 years in the university, I lived a very triangular lifestyle, from class to the chess palace (where we play chess) to the hostel.
But by the third year, I had picked up coding as an interest and was really loving it, then one of my friends who had begun to notice that I was really thinking about what life after school was going to be, called me and asked that we form a club called the AK.TE (Acquiring Knowledge to effecT changE). And for over 3 months we went on to research the root causes of Nigeria’s economic problems and how we could solve them.
From then, a desire was born to build out businesses that would bring about a positive impact on the economy. We went on to start several startups, a couple died and a couple are alive and doing well.
How will you describe the reception so far?
Humbling. The market generally humbles you when you come at it with your own ideas and not consider their own voice, but when you go to them to listen to them describe their problems it starts to get easier and gives you a clear focus.
The only thing constant is their problem and they know their problems best but you have to understand that you know their solution better (as long as you have done your research well).
Capital and funds are key to starting a business? How did you go about funding Haulr.ng?
We were pretty much bootstrapped for almost a year. Using our own personal funds to try and build a hardware solution is very difficult, but by the grace of God, we received grants from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Facebook Accelerator Programme and Zenith bank over the course of 2019.
Many startups fail in their first five years. What measures are you enshrining to ensure that Haulr.ng is here in the next five, 10 and 20 years?
The golden rule for startups is “Don’t die!” and as much as people talk about having a great vision and all, we understand that markets change, trends change.
Therefore, we have set up ourselves to be research-focused and continuously watch how the market and trends change and then finetune our vision constantly to meet the demands of the market and the industry.
What is your money-making model like? Who do you think are your competitors?
We charge a one-time fee for our device and then a monthly subscription fee to gain access to our platform.
Our competition includes Concept Nova and Nova Track and Mix Telematics who are all focused on primarily tracking the locations of their assets.
Where we shine is being able to tell what that asset is being used for at any instance in time and also track the status of whatever activity or job that it is being used for all in real-time.
What are the challenges of running your startup? What are your future plans?
A lot of logistics businesses in Nigeria are primarily focused on 2 KPIs, which is revenue and time, and that is rightly so. However, they miss out on the subtle details that go on to hurt them in the middle or long run which goes to impact those KPIs.
Like how the fact that when your driver uses your truck illegally during the return leg of a job, he invariably increases the amount it costs to complete that job by about 13% and also reduces the lifetime of the vehicle.
The challenge then for us is sparking their interest in these datasets and converting them into paying customers.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Just start! And keep an open mind to learn as you go.