RIYADH: The days when transportation meant moving cargo from point A to point B are over.
The advent of the latest fleet management technologies has brought a new breed of companies that scout canyons and build bridges over them. One such company is Cairo-based Trella.
Also called Uber for Trucks, Trella is a trucking platform that connects shippers to 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 out a niche in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.
Much of the credit goes to company founder Omar Hagrass, who spearheaded Uber Eats’ expansion plans in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It was here that he seeded the idea of trucking as a service. His desire now is to empower the communities around him and make his platform global.
“I intend to work hard, make more good decisions than bad, deliver a product our customers want, and create a culture that our employees and our communities are proud to be associated with.” said Omar Hagrass.
What makes the business model scalable and sustainable is the simplicity of connecting business supply and demand using an intelligent platform.
“Shippers enter into priced contracts with Trella and publish loads on the platform, which immediately generates prices for carriers, who can reserve the load. Once a carrier delivers the load, Trella pays the carrier and invoices the shipper,” Hagrass said while explaining his company’s business model.
The company currently has a take rate of 5-8% – the fee charged by a marketplace on a transaction made by the third party – which could be maximized during critical masses of supply and demand, pushing the take rate up at 15% without affecting the return carrier.
“We’ve successfully completed more than tens of thousands of loads, onboarded more than 30,000 drivers, and worked to provide logistics solutions for more than 500 shippers,” Hagrass said.
Financing and expansion
The company has been a huge draw for angel investors. Three months after launch, Trella secured its $600,000 pre-seed funding, led by capital firm Algebra Ventures and other angel investors.
The startup used the pre-seed funds to stabilize its presence in the Egyptian market and enter Saudi Arabia.
After expanding to the Kingdom and Pakistan, it completed a $42 million post-Series A funding round, committing $30 million in equity and $12 million in debt, and allocating the investment to the product development and strengthening the market position.
“Digitizing, automating and optimizing the largely manual stages of the trucking load cycle is the top priority, ensuring shippers and carriers can continue to connect seamlessly through the web interface or app. “said Hagrass, hoping to expand further in 2022.
The freight industry has seen massive growth over the past few years. In 2021, logistics startups alone secured the highest funding in Egypt, amounting to $177 million. Last month, a Saudi Arabia-based digital freight network, TruKKer, raised $96 million in equity and debt for its Series B funding.
The excitement is palpable, and Hagrass is banking heavily on his vision and the ingenuity of his team that catapulted him into the game.
“Trella’s unique competitive advantage is a team with experience launching technology products in the EMEA region, access to major venture capital and strategic partners, contacts with shareholders like ExxonMobil and experience in building a proper market,” Hagrass said. He hopes to use this advantage to make big strides in Saudi Arabia’s emerging entrepreneurial economy that is leading the way in the Middle East with its Vision 2030 plan.