RIYADH: Gone are the days when transportation meant moving cargo from point A to point B.
The advent of the latest fleet management technologies has brought in a new breed of companies that are spotting the canyons and building bridges over them. One such company is Cairo-based Trella.
Also referred to as the Uber for trucks, Trella is a trucking platform that connects shippers with trucks, driving efficiency in a highly inefficient logistics industry. It is an idea whose time has come. The digital freight platform, launched in 2018, has already carved its niche in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan.
Much of the credit goes to the company’s founder Omar Hagrass who led Uber Eats’ expansion plans in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It’s here that he sowed the idea of trucking as a service. His desire is now to empower the communities around him and make his platform global.
“I intend to work hard, make more good decisions than bad ones, provide a product our customers want, and build a culture our employees and communities are proud to be associated with,” said Omar Hagrass.
What makes the business model scalable and sustainable is the simplicity in connecting the supply-side and the demand-side of the business using an intelligent platform.
“Shippers enter into priced contracts with Trella and post loads on the platform, which immediately generates prices for carriers, who can book the load. Once a carrier delivers the load, Trella pays the carrier and invoices the shipper,” said Hagrass while elaborating on his company’s business model.
The company currently has a 5 to 8 percent take rate — the fee charged by a marketplace on a transaction done by the third party — which could be maximized during critical masses of supply and demand, pushing the take rate up to 15 percent without affecting carrier returns.
“We have successfully completed over tens of thousands of loads, onboarded over 30,000 drivers, and worked to provide logistics solutions for over 500 shippers,” said Hagrass.
Funding and expansion
The company has been a huge draw for angel investors. Three months into its launch, Trella secured its pre-seed funding of $600,000, led by capital firm Algebra Ventures and other angel investors.
The startup utilized the pre-seed funds to stabilize its presence in the Egyptian market and enter Saudi Arabia.
After expanding into the Kingdom and Pakistan, it completed a $42 million post series A round of funding, compromising $30 million in equity and $12 million in debt, and allocating the investment into product development and strengthening market position.
“Digitizing, automating and optimizing the largely manual steps of the trucking load cycle is the main priority, ensuring shippers and carriers can continue to connect seamlessly via the web or app interface,” said Hagrass, hoping to expand further in 2022.
The freight industry has seen massive growth in the last few years. In 2021, logistics startups alone bagged the highest funding in Egypt, amounting to $177 million. Last month, a Saudi-based digital freight network TruKKer raised $96 million in a mix of equity and debt for its Series B funding.
The excitement is palpable, and Hagrass bets heavily on his vision and the resourcefulness of his team that has catapulted him into the game.
“Trella’s unique competitive advantage is a team with an experience to launch tech products across the EMEA region, access to large venture capitals and strategic partners, connect with shareholders like ExxonMobil, and background of building a proper marketplace,” said Hagrass. He hopes to use this advantage in making long strides into the emerging entrepreneurial economy of Saudi Arabia that is blazing the trail in the Middle East with its Vision 2030 blueprint.