“My corporate job was urgent for me, founding my own start-up was important”

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Nishith Rastogi

Nishith Rastogi is the founder and CEO of Locus, a California-based intelligent logistics automation start-up. The aim is to reduce logistical costs for e-commerce and delivery companies, proprietary routing, packing and scheduling algorithms to optimise logistics operations. Rastogi, a BITS Pilani Electronics graduate and an Economics Master’s Degree holder, left the comfort of a corporate stint at Amazon, to helm Locus and mould it into the success story that it is today. Rastogi chats with us about the steps leading to Locus, the challenges, and what lies ahead –

How did you come up with the idea of Locus?

The Indian logistics market is largely unorganised and the emergence of e-commerce over the past few years, has led to the need for growth of logistics infrastructure. Enterprises, today, want to have more control over last mile logistics to offer best end-user experience. We realized that this huge demand for supply chain management can be met by optimizing logistics operations to provide consistency, efficiency and transparency.

Realising that there was a huge opportunity in this space with technological innovation largely absent, we launched Locus, a logistics automation platform in 2015.

Give us a little insight into your business and what sets it apart from traditional logistic companies

Locus is a state-of-the-art decision-making platform for logistics which optimizes operations to provide consistency, efficiency and transparency.

Locus helps enterprises reduce logistics costs with increased efficiency, on-time deliveries and a delightful end-customer experience.

Our intelligent algorithm solves problems of the logistics industry by factoring in real world fuzziness to support unpredictable networks, dirty location points, and 100s of exception scenarios.

Our route planning engine creates highly optimized routes respecting all business constraints (like SLA’s), 3D Packing engine that provides efficient packing configurations for loading multi-dimensional cargo into containers which ensure vehicle optimisation, and the intelligent self-learning loop in the system are what separates us from the competition.

Was it difficult to leave a corporate job in Amazon and create your own start-up?

I left Amazon because I wanted to work on something that solves an ‘open problem’. At some point in your life, you need to prioritize important over urgent. My corporate job was urgent for me, founding my own start-up was important.

What significant achievements has Locus achieved since it started?

We won the “Aegis Graham Bell Award” in the data science category in 2018, the prestigious “TiELumis Partners Entrepreneurial Excellence Award” at TiE Global Summit and Disruptive Tech of the year in 2016. I am happy to share that I have been profiled in the 30 Under 30 achievers lists of Forbes Asia and Businessworld.

What are the challenges you’ve faced?

As a start-up with limited resources, bandwidth and people; you will always be crunched for time. From an industry perspective, we are facing the challenge of penetrating through the traditional mind-set of people into on ground operations and make them feel comfortable with new technologies. From business growth perspective, we are challenging ourselves for expansion into more international markets.

What is the driving factor in the success of Locus and what are the future plans?

Locus is what it is today because of its people. We have a team of young minds putting in best efforts to create the Magic in Motion at Locus. Our team comprises of data scientists from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) that have been actively working on our tech platform.

We want to create technology that will automate all human decisions that are required to transport a package or person from point A to point B by 2020. Our plan to expand to various geographies is in line with this vision.

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