Spending on logistics has always been a nightmare for enterprise companies, and the lack of visibility on the location or the state of goods in transit has been a major pain point. Sanket Sheth, the founder of Elixia Tech, gives a solution to these enterprise problems with his advanced suite of SaaS products for logistics and supply chain digitalization.
Founded in 2011 with a clear focus on solving for visibility and reducing ‘cost per kg’ for its customers, Elixia’s suite of 12 interconnected SaaS solutions has successfully enabled 16 million plus deliveries so far in their product lifecycle, and they are poised to achieve 10 million deliveries just in this fiscal year.
With customers like Flipkart, Mondelez (Cadbury), and Ferrero using Elixia, we can safely say that Elixia is the Zoho of the supply chain and logistics industry. We reached out to Sanket to understand the nuances of running and scaling a SaaS logistics platform such as Elixia, and he shares his journey, lessons, and insights in this story.
Solving Logistics Nighmares for Enterprises
Before starting EIixia in 2011, Sanketh was a tech lead in a US-based startup and developed AI-ML programs in the logistics space. He realized his true calling of using technology to shape the unstructured logistics industry in India and give decision-makers in enterprises control over their goods in transit. So, he flew back home to Mumbai, at age 23 to start Elixia.
In the initial years, Sanket set about to solve the problem of visibility in logistics and started gathering feedback from supply chain heads of enterprises to understand their problems.
Sanket’s solution to solve this visibility problem was to bring intelligence based on data captured through GPS devices installed in transport vehicles. He built real-time data monitoring for the vehicles transporting goods for enterprises and ran analytics against the data generated by the GPS devices.
Sanketh did all this at a time when GPS devices were fairly new in the Indian market. This early solution was called The Control Tower. It was a solid decision-making and visibility platform for the supply chain managers to know the status of goods in transit. Control Tower found product-market fit as soon as it launched in 2014.
At the time, Sanket was among the first people to use GPS telematics in India. Elixia’s early GPS tech-based intervention brought clarity to the mix and ensured peace of mind for the logistics managers in the enterprise.
Scaling Elixia - Building Trust with First Customers
Elixia launched Control Tower in 2014, and its success set off a spark. Sanketh started thinking about the value addition of plug-and-play SaaS solutions in solving problems in the entire ecosystem of supply chain and logistics, and not just visibility.
Sanketh underscores the support of his first customers here and how their feedback helped them scale from one solution in 2014 to a suite of 12 SaaS solutions by 2023.
Soon after Monginis, Mondelez (Cadbury) also started using Elixia’s solution to monitor refrigerated vehicles and helped them gain inroads into the FMCG market. Mondelez uses Elixia to monitor the temperature of chocolates like Dairy Milk and Five Star while in transit from the factory to other destinations. Elixia sends alerts and temperature compliance reports to customers if there is a temperature conflict, thereby preventing food loss.
For SaaS startups who want to scale and scale rapidly, Sanket has an important message, “The customers define the product and the process.”
Lessons from Scaling a SaaS Business
Product-focused vs. customer-focused development
Sanket says that Elixia initially were not product-focused and used to do customizations for customers based on ad-hoc requests, which was “not a good idea.”
Sanket clarified that they still don’t say no to individual customer feedback but rather take their suggestions for enhancements and change requests, see if they fit the majority’s requirements, and prioritize based on that.
The Art of Saying “No”
Sanket says that for a product-focused company, the lighter they are, the easier it is to scale. So Elixia concentrates on its core strength of providing logistics solutions only for transportation via road and not for air, ship, or rail transportation.
Continuous Evolution for higher CSAT
Today, Elixia has a suite of products catering to the different customers in the logistics and supply chain space with high CSAT scores. Sanket says the secret to customer satisfaction is to evolve the products continuously.
Importance of Scalable Architecture
In the early days, Elixia operated on a monolithic architecture suitable for serving a limited number of customers. However, as the customer base grew, Sanket faced issues in latency and performance. Recognizing the need for change, Sanket transitioned Elixia to a microservices architecture.
This shift was crucial in maintaining Elixia’s competitive edge and providing an effective platform for its users.
Elixia's USP and Why Logistics Has No Monopoly
Sanket highlighted a crucial aspect of the logistics industry: there is no single end-to-end provider for digitalizing logistics operations. This absence of a monopoly arises due to the complexity of the logistics sector, which encompasses multiple segments and industries.
Therein lies the USP of Elixia, which is highly configurable and serves multiple logistics segments with its microservices architecture.
But Sanket admits that some prominent competitors in the space, including names like Pando, FreightTiger, Project 44, and Four Kites, are making significant strides in the logistics digitalization domain.
Sanket surmises that the logistics market is vast enough to accommodate multiple players. Keeping an eye on these competitors has helped Elixia stay informed about industry trends and adapt accordingly. This means customer acquisition is a key focus for Elixia, as the market has room for growth.
Adapting to Emerging Trends
Elixia now plans for future product portfolio expansion, including a focus on global visibility extensions. However, one of the most exciting developments Sanket mentioned was the introduction of GenAI into the mix.
Instead of manually generating reports or analyzing data, customers could simply ask questions in plain English. GenAI would provide immediate answers based on the extensive data and transaction records on the platform.
Sanket strongly believes that this innovative feature will simplify decision-making, enhance user experience, and further differentiate Elixia in the market.
When measuring success and performance, Sanket identified the “number of deliveries” as Elixia’s Northstar metric. He explained that Elixia charged its customers based on the number of deliveries rather than the number of customers. This metric was central to tracking revenue generation for the platform.
Sanket also emphasized that this metric was closely tied to Elixia’s sustainability efforts. By optimizing deliveries and reducing carbon emissions through efficient route planning, Elixia contributed to sustainability goals, making it an essential part of its value proposition.
Reasons for Elixia's Growth - Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategy
Sanket attributed Elixia’s growth to a combination of factors, with customer retention playing a significant role.
Elixia employs a robust go-to-market (GTM) strategy for customer acquisition, which consists of four main components:
Hunting: Elixia actively participates in supply chain events, sponsored industry gatherings, and engages directly with supply chain heads. This approach allows them to showcase their platform’s value and generate marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).
Farming: After onboarding a customer, Elixia aims to expand its services within the account. They encourage customers to use the platform for multiple logistics segments, products, geographies, and industries. This approach effectively increases existing clients’ average contract value (ACV).
Reseller Partnerships: Elixia leverages reseller partnerships to filter and facilitate sales. Outsourcing pre-sales activities to reseller partners helps streamline deal conversion and accelerate growth.
Strategic Partnerships: Collaborative relationships with strategic partners allow Elixia and its partners to generate revenue when a customer signs up with both entities. This “you grow, we grow” model benefits all parties involved.
In summary, Sanket’s reflections provide a comprehensive overview of Elixia’s journey, its competitive landscape, strategies for growth, and the evolving trends in the logistics and supply chain SaaS industry. Elixia’s commitment to innovation and customer-centricity is a testament to its continued success in the market.