An interesting innovation has taken place in Azerbaijan for businessmen, entrepreneurs operating in the field of trade, production, who use cars only to transport their goods and provide freight services.
For the first time in the country, a new service has been launched to connect truck owners with drivers and transport companies.
An Uber-like service for trucks is provided by A Truck (https://t.me/atruck_bot). FED.az presents an interview with the author of the project idea, founder and director of the company, entrepreneur Ilgar Tagiyev.
Ilgar muallim, when we first heard about this innovation, we immediately called it “UBER of trucks”, because at first glance it works according to the same rules. How did this idea come about and how does the system work?
In general, a startup must solve a problem. The problem is that at some times of the year, as they say, during the peak period, Azerbaijan does not sell cars. We are talking about both cargo leaving Azerbaijan and cargo coming to Azerbaijan.
For example, as an entrepreneur, I am engaged in the export of fruits and vegetables from Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan, and I saw this problem myself. And I thought that if there was such a system, it could solve the problems of both truck and car owners.
Do you mean that there are few cars and they can’t deliver cargo?
Sometimes it happens, and sometimes trucks go and deliver cargo to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and other countries. But he does not want to return empty-handed because he has not found any cargo and is forced to wait there. Until those cars return, there will be a shortage of cars.
When there is heavy traffic, along with the problem of cargo transportation, prices also rise sharply. For example, we talk about the price of transportation, we agree, but the cost of transportation rises sharply until the car is found and assembled in the truck, and sometimes the cost of transportation rises by 50 percent, and our profits are already lost there.
In this situation, the entrepreneur is already faced with the fact – the trucks are packed, there is no time to find a new car, fruits and vegetables are perishable, you have to send it.
Yes, we have an obligation, we must send. To do this, we use drivers we know directly, or there are people called dispatchers, who are intermediaries in this work, and they receive about $ 100 per order. It happens on both sides, sometimes on one side, and it is not so profitable for the entrepreneur.
This situation had to be resolved. It also requires a certain regulated mechanism, a market instrument, to allow people to carry goods from here to there, to bring goods from here to here, and not to return empty-handed.
Does your project solve these problems?
Of course, with the launch of A Truck, our project solves two problems – the inability of shippers to find the car they want, and the return of cars empty. That is, it will help both to be transparent and to make the right choice.
What kind of cars are we talking about, only trucks?
Different cars are required to transport different goods. Our project covers all cars, from refrigerated cars, which we call “refrigerators”, to trucks with tents.
How does the startup you created work?
We have created a Bot on the Telegram social network – https://t.me/atruck_bot. That’s why we created Telegram because Telegram has more than 500 million users in the world and is very popular in this region, in the geography where we are located. Telegram is quite popular in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, and we are working on it. The Telegram Bot we created is called “A Truck”. The essence of this bot is that people enter here, either as a driver or as a property owner. When registering as a driver or transport company, enter the information about the car – the number of the car, if there is a trailer, its number, volume, capabilities, etc. That is, the car is a refrigerator or an awning, how many tons, he can choose all this. After making a selection, its information is entered into our database.
In turn, the owner of the cargo enters the system, registers and places the necessary orders. When ordering, the system provides the owner of the car in accordance with this order. For example, if the animal is a fruit, then it finds a refrigerator for it, and so on.
How is this process happening now? So how do car owners or car owners who want to carry cargo find the cargo?
At present, this process is chaotic in Telegram or Whatsapp groups. But this is a problematic method. First of all, it is not known who is the driver and who is the owner of the truck in such groups. It is also unknown who is answering whom. In other words, it is not known who will order the goods in these groups or in the end, and how the choice will be made. Because everyone in the groups writes non-stop and it is not known who is lucky.
Your system is different, that is, the same rules apply to finding a car on car buying and selling sites, right?
Yes, the issues in this system are more precise. The system finds a suitable machine according to the load or the customer’s wishes. That is, if you have a load, the person who can carry it sees it, and if someone accepts your load, he will carry it. For example, let’s say when you order that you say my shipment will be ready in a week. The driver sees it, maybe he is not in Azerbaijan yet, but he will be here at the appointed time. Arrive, the truck is loaded into the car and the driver takes it. This is a very effective management, because it is possible to plan the work in advance.
Suppose I own a truck, for example, I have a truckload of potatoes, I want to send it to Moscow. I give you the settings in your system. Will only my cars see my order, which ones fit that order?
Yes, after placing the order, only the owners of the corresponding cars see the order. And whichever of them is interested, that is, wants to carry this burden, the customer sees them and chooses one and cooperates.
How will they answer me? Let’s say that after I declare my load, 5 cars fit this load. How do I see them and which one will I choose?
Let’s say your order has received 5 orders, ie the system has found 5 cars to carry this cargo, you get their contacts and you can now easily contact them directly.
Are car owners themselves responsible for the accuracy of information about cars?
Yes, today it is the same, that is, the effect of the accuracy of both information and goods is not one-sided. Sometimes the order comes, you see, it is too heavy, the truck driver refuses. Or, sometimes they look at the quality of the goods, and if the quality of the seized goods is already bad, they do not take them.
It’s clear. Is it possible to agree on a price in the system?
The owner of the car talks to the owner of the truck about the price. In this case, the price is usually stated by the shipper, ie the owner of the goods.
Because prices vary depending on various issues – what the cargo is, whether it is urgent or not, and other reasons. There are products that need to be transported at low temperatures, and then the car consumes more fuel to provide a refrigerator.
For example, if you have a truckload of potatoes, you say that I am ready to pay $ 3,500 to transport this cargo to Russia in an awning car. Because the demand here changes too often, sometimes the entrepreneur himself is in a hurry, raises the price, says that I am even ready to pay $ 4,500, let someone take it, and thus kind of increases the market.
By the way, there is a war between Russia and Ukraine. Is it possible to send goods from Baku to Moscow and from Baku to Ukraine?
It is possible to send cargo, but on another line – Georgia, over, but not from Odessa, because in Odessa there are many mined areas in the port.
Probably for these reasons, prices have risen, haven’t they? What is the difference between the previous and current prices?
Yes, the price has increased. But it also depends on the season. In the past, for example, when goods were shipped via Russia or Turkey via the Black Sea, prices ranged from $ 4,000 to $ 6,000. Now it has increased a lot, because the number of trucks going to Europe is limited. Because not everyone can go there or does not want to go at all. First of all, now that you have to cross Europe, the driver and the car need certain logistics documents, such as whether you have access to Europe, whether you have a visa, and so on.
On the other hand, Ukrainian cars used to be able to travel to and from Russia, but now they can’t. Azerbaijani cars can go anywhere.
Ilgar muallim, your startup, what services does this service cover. We are still talking about international transportation, but as far as I know, the coverage is much wider.
Indeed, our coverage is much wider. It is not only about international transportation, ie from Azerbaijan to Russia or Ukraine, Turkey, Europe, but any kind of cargo. This includes shipments that we do not consider serious at first glance. For example, someone builds a house and needs a truck to transport construction materials. This system will also cover such shipments. When you enter the system and order, the truck is found. Even cars can be found and used to bring food to markets. It is true that markets are currently working with corporate customers, transport companies, but maybe someone has a car and wants to carry goods with it. This system will allow it to enter the freight market without any acquaintances or coordinators.
So you can even find a car in your system to transport any building materials or just something in the city, right?
Yes, it is absolutely true. Suppose you bought goods from the fair “Sadarak” or “Bina”, for example, wallpaper, building materials, household items, etc., you want to bring it to the city, you can order a car from our application.
Ilgar muallim, is your application free to use?
Our application is completely free, in the current situation. That is, we are completely free for both parties – the owner of the truck and the car.
In the future, a small monthly subscription fee may be waived, but these amounts will be many times lower than now. It now costs $ 100 to link an order through unofficial dispatchers. Imagine that if you send or transport 10 loads a month, it will cost several hundred dollars, even about $ 1,000.
Are there people registered in the system? And can citizens or consignors from other countries, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, also register here?
Yes, the number of registered is growing rapidly, now it is hundreds. It is interesting that most of those currently registered with us are citizens of Uzbekistan. Currently, the most active users in Central Asia, Russia and Ukraine are the most registered users. Azerbaijani users are also happy to register.
Is it possible that any cargo owner in Uzbekistan can find a car in Uzbekistan through your system to transport cargo within his country?
Of course, our system works in other countries as well. In other words, cargo owners from other countries can send their cargo from Uzbekistan to Russia or within the country – for example, from Tashkent to Samarkand.
In addition, there is great interest in our system from Turkey, and we will try to promote it in Turkey.
The essence of this work is that we want our project to be regional and global, that is, not limited to Azerbaijan, the cars and trucks here. Because the transport business is not one-sided, that is, we can not only serve the goods leaving Azerbaijan. We want to take a certain part of the turnover in the region for this work to be effective.
Ratings are given to facilitate the work of users on systems where such platforms, ie systems with which people do not know each other, interact. Will you have such ratings?
Of course, we plan to give a rating to each driver in the future by customers. All we need to do is find out if the deal has been made, that is, if the shipment has taken place. To do this, we can apply an SMS system, send a message a few days later and ask whether the deal took place or not, and as a result, such ratings will be created.
Will A Truck always work only on Telegram?
No, in the next stage we will start it with Votsap and Votsap Bot. People are already interested in the system, and have begun to contact our support service and ask for details.
What language is A Truck in?
At present, our system works in 4 languages. English, Russian, Azerbaijani and Turkish languages. In the future, we want to add Persian, because they are very active. However, users from Iran can still register using these languages. In general, as I said, now anyone from anywhere in the world can register with us.
In general, let me tell you one thing – Iran is very active in cargo transportation at the moment. Even now, Azerbaijani cars carry as much cargo from Iran to Russia as Azerbaijani goods. Because of the sanctions, Iranian cars cannot leave Iran, so they usually need foreign cars. Therefore, Azerbaijani cars are actively involved in the transportation of goods from Iran.
As you mentioned earlier, one of the main problems in this area is the return of cars empty. Do you plan to apply a separate service for this problem?
Yes, at the next stage we will launch the “I’m empty” function for drivers to offer their cars. That is, I am in a city or country and my car is empty. Because in most cases, returning cars come empty or wait to find a customer, resulting in loss of time and money. Therefore, when cars return from a foreign city for 4,000 manats, they are ready to bring 1,500 manats. The “I’m free” function will help solve this problem.
We even had a case where the car went from Baku to Kiev, where it found cargo and went to Lviv, then to Minsk with the next cargo, and from there took a new cargo and came to Baku.
What other innovations are planned?
In addition, we intend to add the geographical location of cars to the service in the future. Through this, orders will come according to the location of the car. We’ve seen this feature in Uber – the system shows not only empty cars, but also how close they are to the customer.
In addition, in the future we will offer additional services for truck owners and car owners. This includes insurance, sale of spare parts, motel, service and so on.