Gaurav Biswas saw that one of the issues affecting people in the UAE was a vast gulf in prices being quoted by different truck companies for similar moving jobs. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Trukker, one of the UAE’s latest start-ups, is aiming to raise over a million dollars in its first round of funding, cash that it will use to expand throughout the GCC.

Gaurav Biswas, the founder of Trukker, an app similar to Uber that pairs trucks or vans (and their accompanying crew) with those who are in need of a truck (and a crew), told Gulf News that his company would soon close its first round of investment, following 1,600 per cent growth since its commercial launch in the UAE, which was in October, 2016. “It’ll be a Series A round of funding, upwards of $1 million,” Biswas said in an interview this week.

A funding round refers to the money a start-up raises from venture capitalists to finance its growth and the class of shares sold to investors. The progression of rounds is often viewed as an indication of a company’s progress.

He said that he expects to sign the term sheet with Trukker’s investors “any time now”, and will finish raising the money next month.

“We’re very selective about who we raise money from. It’s strategic in nature and helps us scale up in regional geographies,” Biswas added.

The Dubai-founded company is currently targeting an entry in to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman in the next nine to twelve months. “By the end of this year, we should be in Saudi,” the founder said.

The Uber of trucks

According to Biswas, the app is intended to act as an aggregator for those with vehicles, ranging from a one tonne pickup truck to a 40 foot trailer, with those who need something moved. That might be the contents of a two-bedroom apartment in JLT, on the company’s consumer side, or industrial materials to a construction site, on Trukker’s corporate side.

“The idea came to me when I realised that getting a truck is very difficult. I thought ‘we should have an Uber for trucks’,” Biswas said, adding: “It’s even harder than getting a taxi, since you can’t just hail one down on the side of the road.”

One of the other issues that he saw affecting people in the UAE was a vast gulf in prices being quoted for similar jobs. Before the arrival of Trukker, Biswas said he had seen prices range from Dh900 to Dh2,100 for the same one-bedroom apartment move, with little clarity on what the customer would get for such differing prices.

“We wanted to standardise prices, and standardise quality,” he said. Trukker now offers three pricing tiers, with clear details on what each level gets you.

Trukker is now regarded as one of the top vendors for home moving. But to get to this point, Biswas quit a highly successful role at construction giant Aecom, where was overseeing projects such as the Atlantis hotel and Yas Mall, and sacrificed his own money to get his start-up off the ground.

“We were self-funded for a very long time. Me and Pradeep (Trukker’s co-founder) have contributed over $300,000 of our own money to build Trukker. That’s where we differ from other start-ups. We’ve committed to continue pumping cash in to the business even if we’re not making money,” Biswas said.

The next step

Now, satisfied with their progress in the consumer market, Trukker is setting its sights on the corporate market.

“The B2C (business to consumer) has been so high that we had to focus on it. But I want to spend more time on, and focus much more on, B2B (business to business),” Biswas said.

“There are massive inefficiencies in the corporate moving world,” he continued. “For example, people don’t know when deliveries will arrive, invoices are often issued on paper, and they often don’t fill trucks on their return journey. Our technology can solve all these issues,” he said.

As for the rest of the GCC, Biswas said that cross-border movements are next on his agenda.

“We’ve already started testing (cross-border movements), and we hope that we can start working across the region soon,” he said.

According to Biswas, part of his decision-making process in selecting investors for his Series A funding round was who would be helpful in this regional expansion. Part of the cash, he added, would go on a marketing and advertising budget to spread the word about his app.

The company has relied largely on word of mouth until now.

Despite plans to spread across the region, Biswas said that “we don’t intend to become a freight company, leasing trucks and so on. We will remain an aggregator, bringing supply and demand together, imposing performance standards and standardising rates.”