START-UP CORNER: ‘Bees’ help businesses track shipments
IoT-based start-up Roambee provides real-time reports to businesses using tracking data, writes AYAN PRAMANIK
Vijay Nagariya, head of distribution at Mumbai-based Drums Food, the maker of greek yogurt Epigamia, could barely believe that he could, sitting at his workstation, check the temperature inside the vehicle that carried his products. But things changed for Nagariya in 2014, when Drums Food started using a tracking solution by Roambee, an Internet of Things (IoT) start-up that offers real-time data on shipments. “Before Roambee, we were at the mercy of the transporter,” said Nagariya, for whom monitoring the temperature is as important as tracking the shipment.
Roambee, operated by Roambee Services, based in Mumbai and the Silicon Valley, helps businesses such as GlaxoSmithKline, Hero Cycles, Ceat Tyres, and Drums Food achieve efficiency in logistics management. “Bees”, or the IoT devices of this start-up, provide real-time reports to businesses using tracking data.
Co-founded by Sanjay Sharma and Vidya Subramanian in 2013, Roambee uses its location-aware cloud platform and follows an outcome-based business model where customers pay only for the shipments they track. “Our solution, using the analytics platform, can predict a potential risk,” said Sanjay Sharma, chief executive officer, Roambee.
Before this venture, Sharma had cofounded two Silicon Valley-based startups, KeyTone Technologies, which was acquired by Global Asset Tracking, and Plexus Technologies, which later became an ICICI Ventures portfolio company.
Roambee raised $4.1 million in Series-B funding from a group of investors led by Deutsche Telekom Strategic Investments. Its Series-A funding of $2.5 million was provided by a group of Silicon Valley-based angel investors.
Roambee has a five-pronged approach for providing real-time tracking of goods: A smart wireless multi-sensor IoT device called Bee; global data connectivity and device data storage; an API cloud platform providing real-time foresight; an on-demand business model, including the management of device reverse logistics; and a control tower called BeeCentral.
Industry analysts said Roambee offered a holistic solution. While similar service providers either specialise in building a platform or focus on the hardware, Roambee bridges the gap for a realtime location and condition monitoring solution.
“We are capturing this market by offering a frictionless on-demand payas-you-go service. We enable partners like T-Systems, Bell Integrator and Accenture to use Roambee as a trusted data analytics tool for their clients,” Sharma said. Deutsche Telekom Strategic Investments acts as strategic partner to Roambee, which uses Deutsche Telekom’s infrastructure for connectivity to its devices in 200 countries.
Businesses across the world consider efficient delivery of shipments to be a growth driver. Experts say this is becoming more important with the mushrooming of e-commerce.
“Our revenue stream is from subscription plans for our monitoring solutions,” Sharma said. For businesses that subscribe to Roambee’s service, it is an operational expenditure that comprises devices, logistics management, the platform, and control tower service. It can be used per shipment or on a monthly basis. The firm operates in India, the US, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, and Brazil. “We are monitoring shipments travelling across continents,” Sharma added.
IoT-based tracking solutions are making inroads into different businesses and regions. The owner of another global tracking solution provider said, “CCTVbased tracking or surveillance saw a slow start, but they are everywhere now. IoTbased tracking will grow much faster than that.” This was a multi-billion dollar market globally and it was growing rapidly, Sharma said.
The ~100-crore start-up said factors such as product-market fit, right unit economics, solving proven pain points and customer traction helped it scale up until the Series-B round of funding.
Going forward, the availability of tracking devices could pose a challenge for Roambee. The firm is planning to expand into field asset monitoring, indoor asset monitoring, and analyticsas-a-service.