Increased digitisation in Egypt and the rise in smartphone adoption has pushed the demand for transportation services, whether this relates to the movement of people, goods or shipping parcels to consumers. Amid record-high inflation and fluctuations in the price of oil, reducing operational costs has become a top priority for logistics companies that operate their own fleets.
The past few months saw the emergence of several initiatives by private sector companies as well as logistics startups to lessen dependence on oil and switch their fleets to electric vehicles. But, the majority of commercial vehicles still largely run on diesel fuel. According to the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), diesel dispensers consume 3.7 million tonnes of diesel every year, releasing over 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
Fuelin, is one startup that enables companies to reduce operating costs by bringing down fuel usage. Through Fuelin, fleet managers can track and monitor fuel consumption and be notified in case of overconsumption or faulty transactions.
The startup deploys optical character recognition (OCR) reading capabilities that can recognise the reading on the fuel dispenser and translate it into a digital text.
Armed with operational data and insights, drivers, on the other hand, can get insights regarding their vehicle and the amount of fuel needed to transport inputs, depending on its type and the routes they cover, as well as making it easy for them to find the nearest gas station to their locations.
"For fleet managers, fuel costs are a huge expense given that they take the biggest bite of their budget. Businesses with fleets spend approximately 50-60 per cent of their annual revenues on fuel. When this is left unmonitored, it is a recipe for compounding losses," says Mohamed Hussein, co-founder and CEO of Fuelin.
Drawing on his past experience as a fleet manager, Hussein recounts that the process of collecting fuel-related data has only involved the use of excel sheets. This has, in turn, allowed for mishaps and several "fuel fraud incidents", as he puts it.
"The fuel funds allocated by companies can sometimes be exceeded or misused and fleet managers cannot really dissect the reasons behind this. The way the fuel data is gathered is through comparing paper fuel receipts against mileage. This unreliable method causes multiple fraud cases, including drivers performing double or multiple transactions to one receipt or filing fake receipts," Hussein explains.
The startup's clientele ranges from gas stations and businesses with fleets from across the board, but it tends to mostly cater to e-commerce and last mile companies. Moreover, it also has plans to onboard ride-hailing companies.
"In Egypt, commercial vehicles represent 6 per cent of the transportation industry. Therefore, they account for 6 per cent of the total energy consumption. The tide remains strong as the demand for logistics services continues to soar," says Hussein.
He adds: "In ride hailing, [we] found out that drivers prefer rides paid in cash so they could use the money to get fuel. Over the past period, we were working on fostering partnerships with ride-hailing companies and having their drivers use our solution. That way, drivers can use 50 per cent of the money they would collect through our app to refill tanks from the gas stations that we work with."
Currently, Fuelin works with 12 gas stations, and is in the process of raising its pre-Seed round to cover more gas stations inside Egypt as well as onboard more corporate clients. Hussein further explains that the biggest challenge confronting his business is the need to accelerate its expansion.
"That's one key hurdle standing in the way of acquiring big multinational companies with larger vehicle fleets. That's what we are heavily focused on in the meantime. All in all, we decided to ditch the cold-calling approach and aim for partnering with companies that own gas stations," he adds.
Recently, the startup has partnered up with Ola Energy, an affiliate of Libya Ola Holdings. The alliance will enable Fuelin to have a presence in the company's respective filling stations in Egypt as well as in Africa.