Celcius Logistics Solutions Pvt. Ltd is a cold chain marketplace startup based out of Mumbai that was established by Swarup Bose, Rajneesh Raman and Arbind Jain in the year 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic had brought the businesses operating in the service sector virtually to a standstill. This was a time when they had felt that the time was ripe for bringing about huge investment in strengthening the Indian cold chain infrastructure. Celcius’s HYBRID SaaS based Cold Chain marketplace solution has been connecting shippers, transporters and cold storage owners throughout the country.
Swarup Bose, Founder and CEO of Celcius spoke to Claus from Food Infotech, wherein, he mentioned about himself and the reasons behind starting Celcius, including mentioning about the various service offerings that Celcius provides to its clients, apart from sharing details on the funds raised by Celcius recently from Marquee Investors that would be utilized to expand its footprint to other parts of the country, including for various other purposes and much more.
1. Please start by telling us more about yourself and the reasons that prompted you to start Celcius a couple of years ago.
I had co-founded Celcius Logistics in the year 2020 along with Rajneesh Raman and Arbind Jain. Having possessed over 16 years of industry experience in handling cold chain logistics, I was deeply passionate about digitizing the cold chain in India. The idea of starting Celcius had come to the three of us at the beginning of the lockdown when the country was passing through an unprecedented time period, in which businesses across the country had to shut down, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We realized that it was now that the country required a network more than ever, where the cold chain could be brought alive. It was also important that this network was devoid of any hindrances that hamper the smooth functioning of one of the most essential categories of logistics. The lockdown enabled us to collaborate and build our software online and after beta testing, we launched it as soon as the lockdown was lifted. Though, there are other reasons for tons of food and vaccines to be wasted every year in India, which is actually a whopping 30% of farm produce and 29% of vaccines that had been wasted, one of the main reasons for the occurrence of wastage is the acute shortage of refrigerated vehicles and cold storage in India. There has been a lot of focus on delivering perishable goods on time through proper functioning of the cold chain. At that instinct, I had felt that the idea of starting Celcius would cause a disruption in the cold supply chain market.
2. Can you brief us a little on the various services offered by Celcius and the sectors that it has been serving today?
Celcius is an SaaS enabled Cold Chain solution platform providing a complete array of cold chain services. Having a presence across India, we aggregate assets from the entire country for maximum utilization of the scarce cold chain resources. From transporters and cold chain storage to last mile delivery, Celcius has a presence in each segment of the industry.
Our software platform allows shippers, transporters and cold storage owners to coordinate in real-time, book assets, make payments and track and monitor their consignments. We have customers from across every segment that includes dairy, pharmaceuticals, frozen foods, fruits, vegetables, sea food and the meat industry. Out of these, there is a considerable scope for growth in segments such as Fruits and Vegetables and Dairy and Pharmaceuticals, which have seen unprecedented growth over the past few years. This sector continues to still largely depend on non-temperature controlled vehicles for transportation of their commodities and this generate s large amounts of waste.
3. You had recently raised funds of USD 6.5 million from Mumbai Angels, Including other investors. Can you tell us more about the same?
Celcius has grown remarkably over the last 8 months and we are thrilled to have secured funding from marquee investors who will be backing us in our journey. The funding will help us expand our footprint and scale our business and make cold chain products easily accessible across India. Through the expansion, we also plan to delve deeper into the segment by gaining more insights about other innovative cold chain solutions that we can offer, ultimately making our services all-encompassing. In August last year, Celcius received USD 500,000 in a seed fund round from Mumbai Angels Network, along with Huddle, Lumis Partners, MaGEHold, Keiretsu Forum, Eaglewings Ventures Alliance Network (EVAN) and investors from Malaysia, Nigeria and the US. The brand successfully utilized the funds to scale up its operations and diversify the services on its platform by integrating WMS (Warehouse Management System) and TMS (Transportation Management System). At the beginning of this year, we procured additional funding from Venture Catalysts, Supply chain labs, Sunil Kataria (CEO Raymonds), Parveen Dalal (CEO Mondelez Indonesia), Dharmendra lodha (CFO Jiomart Grocery), Rahul Gama (CHRO Godrej Agrovet) from 10X Investments and others, while every investor from our earlier round doubled down on their investment and some increased their investment by 20 times.
4. Would you explain for us in detail about your asset-light SAAS-based Platform backed by AI and how has it helped smoothen the business operations of your clients?
Celcius’ SaaS-based platform provides a marketplace for cold chain services and consignments. We onboard cold chain product manufacturers/retailers, transporters, shippers and storage companies onto our platform. Our system then segregates the data and enables seamless collaboration amongst the cold chain entities. This presents transporters and shippers with the opportunity to interact with manufacturers, retailers and distributors across India. This system of interconnectedness also allows budding entrepreneurs in the transportation sector to work on consignments across the country and expand their reach. Celcius also supports warehouse owners, transporters and shippers by helping them meet GDP compliance and upgrading their cold chain technology to match the industry standards. The data gathered with such large-scale implementation is helping us create the AI, which is being developed with predictive algorithms for distribution, consumption and inventory management systems.
5. Please let us know of any of the recent challenges faced by Cold Chain Businesses that you’ve also been working to redress of late.
The biggest challenge has always been maintaining the correct temperature during transit & storage. Due to several reasons, we see a lot of systemic failures in transit, which leads to a lot of food wastage because things have not been transported in a proper format. While there has been a lot of tech adoption in logistical warehouse management systems and automated vehicles, the cold supply chain as a sector still is not leveraging enough technology. There is an urgent need to build an unbroken cold supply chain network across the country, not only for the food and perishables, but also for vaccines and the pharma sector. There have been cases where human interference has caused delays in supply chain as well, as the products are left unattended which cause tonnes of losses.
To combat this, we launched Celcius and with our proprietary software solution, by which we would be able to monitor the complete transit phase live. We have an in-built alert system that informs our operations team of any excursions and the system is sensitive to temperature fluctuations to each degree. We haven’t seen temperature excursions in our 2000+ trips in the past six months and we owe this to our platform that monitors everything for us and reduces waste due to human error. Backup data systems have strengthened our offerings to the shippers. They can now access live reports instantly during the journey and receive updates via WhatsApp, emails and SMS directly from our system. The cargo, temperature-controlled transport is tracked seamlessly from the warehouse to the airport and then from the destination airport to the last mile, right to the point of administration. The live monitoring feature enables vaccine centres to predict and administer vaccines in a more efficient manner and helps reduce wastage.
6. Tell us a bit on the general feedback that you’ve received from cold chain Businesses on the Vahan Vikas Samriddhi Programme launched by your Company last year. Were you able to receive any suggestions for making the scheme work better?
We have a national level tie up with Shriram Transport Finance Company (STFC). We aim to fund vehicles and facilitate working capital financing for the cold supply chain market. We also aim to not only provide light and heavy commercial vehicles to entrepreneurs, start-ups, truck owners and drivers, who are interested to venture into the cold supply chain sector, but also provide them with relevant training as well as offering a minimum income commitment.
This initiative is receiving huge responses today, with 25+ direct Annual Contracts with companies such as Godrej, Zepto, Sumeru, Suguna, etc., 107+ Cold storage, Celcius already has a strong network to ensure ongoing business through its Vahan Vikas programme, Additionally, we have also partnered with several leading OEMs such as Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors, Mahindra, etc. on a national level for an assured and exclusive competitive rate over the MRP, further benefiting this initiative.
We’re aiming to hold many more such programme meets as part of our phase 1 across South India, including cities like Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Vishakhapatnam, etc., to integrate and empower key on-ground partners to drive efficiencies and strengthen the network and to put a halt on food wastage that has been occurring every year, creating a larger vision of an unbroken cold supply chain network across the country.
7. What has been lacking in the Indian Cold Chain Market today? Further, in what ways is Celcius determined to play a role to help build an alliance Network between various cold chain businesses?
The Indian cold chain market requires around 1.5 to 2 lakh reefer trucks to meet the demand, but there are currently around 50,000 reefer trucks. The recent advancements in the industry is expected to narrow the gap, however, it is crucial that we double-down on the existing infrastructure and utilize it to the best of our ability.
India requires an interconnected cold chain system, ensuring all the cities and rural areas have access to basic cold chain products like pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and perishable consumables like dairy, fruits, vegetables and meat. This network will empower smaller transporters and warehouse owners to reach out to bigger manufacturers and work with them, thereby increasing their visibility. Celcius is striving to build such a network to tackle the disintegration within the industry and to build alliances between cold chain enterprises.
8. In how many cities do you currently operate today?
Presently, Celcius has a reach in 350+ cities across India ranging from tier-I to tier-III. To name a few, we transport cold chain products to metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and many others. Along with this, we also have a reach in rapidly growing cities such as Pune, Sikkim, Cochin and smaller towns such as Siliguri, Malda, Raipur, Shamshabad, Hoskote among others. We have begun our expansion to other small and lesser-known locations by collaborating with transporters from those regions
9. Please let us know about the various segments in which your clients operate in the F&B Industry.
We have customers from across the dairy, frozen foods, fruits, vegetables, sea food and meat industry. From transporters to cold chain storages to last mile delivery, Celcius has a huge presence in the F&B industry.
10. Lastly, would you tell us about your future plans?
We plan to grow and cover 500+ cities in the next one year, while creating India’s largest last-mile delivery network. Our offerings will cover everything from the primary movement to the last mile distribution and it will be a complete cold chain solution. Our software offerings are set to grow from transaction-based systems to completely integrated TMS (Transportation Management Systems) and WMS (Warehouse Management Systems) with AI and blockchain integration, which will create a holistic end-to-end supply chain solution for the entire cold chain network.