Amid the massive disruption in the logistics sector over the last two years, India witnessed increased demand for cold-chain logistics infrastructure. The Indian cold-chain market stood at $420 billion in 2022. It was at a time when the country’s cold-chain infrastructure needed a major revamp that Navi Mumbai-based cold-chain marketplace startup Celcius was launched in November 2020. The company is working to strengthen the cold-chain infrastructure in India. Founded by Swarup Bose, Rajneesh Raman, and Arbind Jain, Celcius is one of the leading aggregators that connects clients with cold-chain transportation and warehousing service providers. Over the last two years, Celcius has expanded its reach across 300 cities with 3,500 vehicles and 107 cold-storage facilities. In an interview with Swarup Bose, Founder and CEO of Celcius, he talks about the company’s vision and its goal to scale up operations in the future.
- Kindly brief us about Celcius and what are the services it offers to its clients?
Celcius is a cold chain solution platform providing the complete array of digital services. With a nation-wide presence in India, our platform aggregates transporters, vendors, warehousing facilities and suppliers from across the country for maximum utilization of cold chain resources.
The cold chain infrastructure for several temperature-sensitive goods, including vegetable and fruits, is in an abysmal state in India, with almost 30%–40% of these perishables being wasted. The F&B sector still largely depends on non-temperature controlled vehicles for transportation of their commodities. This is, to a large extent, due to the limited asset availability within the cold chain sector.
From transporters, to cold chain storages, to last mile delivery, Celcius has a huge presence in the F&B industry. We have customers across the dairy, frozen goods, fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat industries. 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.
- What is Celcius’ business model?
We started Celcius at the height of the lockdown in 2020 when the entire country was shut down. It was imperative that transportation of essential commodities would be of high priority during these times. Moreover, the need for an effective cold chain solution would only increase once the vaccines started rolling out. We realised that creating a nationwide cold chain network was the need of the hour since the cold chain facilities available were scarce. Our modus operandi was to create an asset-light SaaS-based platform that would help cold chain entities collaborate regardless of their bandwidth. This meant that even smaller shippers and transporters would be able to use our platform to assist larger manufacturers. We check storage units of shippers and fleets of transporters for GDP compliance and if they do not meet the needs, we help them install technological devices that would get them the clearance. Celcius has seen tremendous growth in the past year. We have gone from operating in Mumbai to operating in 90 cities across India, and from only connecting the major hubs in metro cities to tier 2 and 3 cities.
- Tell us about the cold chain market scenario (competitors in India and worldwide).
The concept of a cold chain marketplace is unique in India. Celcius is the first to market a platform that aggregates the various entities involved with the cold chain. Our software provides an end-to-end solution from monitoring the entire network, installing the latest IoT devices in vehicles and penetrating the market up to tier 3 cities. This enabled us to increase our presence across 90 cities in India in a short span of time. We were prepared for the challenge of transporting not just vaccines but essential commodities including fresh produce and frozen products across India during the lockdown. In the US, a couple of firms work on a similar model like ours, concentrating on the perishable cargo segment, but we believe having a model like this across the globe will eventually lead to an interconnectivity of networks that will span across continents. The better the cold chain network, the more we can arrest the wastage of agricultural produce, medicines and vaccines.
- What are your most recent product innovations?
We recently launched an Android application for drivers. The app enables drivers to have access to the live location of loading and unloading. It is linked directly to our main system, where we book and execute the entire trip from start to finish. Through this app, the drivers can also report the status of their trip. For instance, once they unload the vehicle, they can upload POD (Proof of Delivery) directly to our system. Processes like driver trip settlement and payment of expenses can also be carried out seamlessly. The app is presently available in English but we are developing a counterpart in Hindi and we will also add other regional languages in the future.
- How has Celcius app and web-based platform helped shippers and transporters smoothen their business?
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 AI-backed system then segregates the data and enables seamless collaboration amongst the cold chain entities. This presents transporters and shippers with the ability to reach out to retailers or manufacturers on their own accord. 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.