Load-Me, the Dubai startup that connects regional truckers with delivery loads through a marketplace app, has come a long way since its early days.
After graduating from Turn8’s accelerator program several years ago and securing bits of funding here and there, they've recently signed a deal with global consumer goods conglomerate Procter & Gamble.
The deal means they'll be its official approved transport provider in the MENA region, and plays into a larger roadmap that includes expanding into new countries and B2B services.
Load-Me now has access to 15,000 trucks in the region, making them, says founder Sebastian Stefan, the largest fleet operator in the Middle East.
They say these kinds of deals between corporations and transporters will massively reduce the number of empty trucks on the roads: large companies without their own fleets are a perfect partner for independent transport companies.
The tangible positive impact of Load-Me is two-fold: environmental and delivery optimization.
Load-Me reduces the carbon footprint of the regional trucking industry: it was recognized for this in Dubai when it won an Innovation in Sustainability Award at the 2015 Global Innovation Summit.
It helps truck drivers optimize their operation costs by finding them additional deliveries they can make on the return trips to their starting point.
Stefan says Load-Me means transporters' profitability can jump significantly.
“Each parked truck or pick-up is losing $70 a day: these are the fixed costs like the driver’s salary, accommodation and depreciation of the equipment. When a truck is operating, it can generate on average $90 per trip. So, by speeding up the process of acquiring loads, the platform is increasing the overall profitability/unit by $160 for each extra working day. This is an added value created by Load Me: a direct benefit of using the platform,” he said.
Yet Stefan, who is currently raising money to grow his startup, says he is far from accomplishing his long-term CO2 emissions reduction goal.
“According to the Global Carbon Atlas, UAE is the sixth country in the world in terms of territorial emissions of CO2 per capita along with other three countries in the Middle East that top the rankings," he said.
"Once the Load-Me platform is implemented and reaches a minimum critical mass of users, traffic will be reduced by 10 percent in UAE. Along with that drop, CO2 emissions will reduce by a staggering amount, eight million tons less every year in the GCC. All of this will be accomplished solely due to transporters increasing their loaded miles."
Stefan said Load-Me’s platform featured a daily update of the fuel cost in UAE and Saudi Arabia, to help users constantly plan their budget.
South African logistics executive Brent Melvin, who has spent nearly three decades working for both international shipping giants and leading Gulf-headquartered companies, declared that the industry was due for a technology-sparked change.
After speaking on a panel with Stefan about truck industry logistics earlier this month in Dubai at the Telematics Middle East & Africa conference, the Saudi Arabia-based Melvin, who is COO of Al Majdouie Logistics, told Wamda platform-based solutions to transport inefficiencies would have far-reaching effects.
“Integrated solutions for cargo, trucks and drivers across a supply chain is a great opportunity for platform developers considering they will then touch on some of the key stakeholders in any freight movement; truck, driver, transport company and customer,” he said.
The road to success
In addition to the slew of awards it picked up in 2016, Load-Me saw a substantial increase in the scaling up of its operations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
They recorded more than 2,800 posts on the platform with a total value of $4.5 million and saw a 200 percent increase in the number of users, both in load owners and truckers. The platform has more than 9,000 registered companies and most are medium-sized companies with fleets of up to 50 trucks.
Encouraged by this progress, and seeing high demand from other countries in the region, Stefan is expanding Load-Me’s services to other MENA countries, starting with Saudi Arabia’s northern neighbor Jordan and GCC members. The Load-Me app will also be translated to Arabic and Urdu.
Feature image via Pixabay.com