Interview with Mr Nishith Rastogi, Co-Founder & CEO, Locus
Do you ever worry about a loved one’s commute? This is a common concern, regardless of the time and geography of the country. This was how Mr Nishith Rastogi, Co-Founder & CEO, Locus, came up with the idea of an efficient and easy-to-use travel safety app. Marketed as RideSafe, this real-time route deviation detection (R2D2) app will alert users and their intended family members as well as friends if the driver deviates from the intended route.
“In December 2014, post the infamous Uber incident that happened in Delhi, India, my sister was visiting Bengaluru late night from the airport. That got me very paranoid about her safety. This was how, together with Geet Garg, we came up with idea of Ridesafe, a mobile application specifically designed with a strong focus on women’s safety,” said the co-founder.
In this issue of Supply Chain Asia magazine, Mr Rastogi shares how the R2D2 engine has evolved from ensuring women’s safety into the logistics sector.
Have you always dreamt of starting a company? What eventually drove you to quit your day job and start Locus?
The world is full of infinite possibilities and countless opportunities. From the age of 14, there have been various stints that I tried my hands on. But it is only in 2015 that I took my entrepreneurial journey to the next level with Geet when we started RideSafe, a woman safety app, which then evolved into Locus. The reason behind quitting my day job was that, between the age of 25 and 50, I want to spend my time with a high energy and high calibre team. I want to bring together a team that is driven by innovation, and this is why Locus spends so much time and effort in hiring the right talent.
There are plenty of similar tracking software in the market today. What is different about Locus?
Locus is not just a tracking software. Locus is the intelligence behind logistics, which optimises operations to provide consistency, efficiency and transparency. It is a state-of-the-art decision-making platform for logistics that helps companies in their day-to-day operations by using our algorithms for load balancing and route planning. So all in all, Locus does not just tell you where your truck is, it tells you where your truck should be.
Can you share with us more about Locus’ 3D Packing Engine?
Locus’ 3D packing engine called Packman works through algorithms, which give the best packing solution as an output. The required inputs are the measurements of the arbitrary 3D packages, as well as the quantity and measurements of the container on hand that will carry the packages. With the above inputs, the proprietary engine churns out the most effective loading plan and the summary of the packing performance. The engine shows how best to load one container, and/or how many containers would be needed to load a number of items. The engine also takes into consideration the fragility of the products being packed, giving the best suited loading plan with LIFO arrangements or the strongest or the heaviest products at the bottom and the lighter objects on top.
Locus is basically an intelligent logistics automation platform. Why did you decide to focus on the logistics industry? Any personal experience you can share?
In December 2014, post the infamous Uber incident that happened in Delhi, India, my sister was visiting Bengaluru late night from the airport. That got me very paranoid about her safety. This was how, together with Geet, we came up with idea of Ridesafe, a mobile application specifically designed with a strong focus on women’s safety.
Imagine our surprise when food tech companies started adopting RideSafe to track their delivery fleet in early 2015. Realising that there was a huge opportunity in this sphere with technological innovation largely absent, we launched Locus, a logistics automation platform.
Why did you choose Singapore as your next target market? Which other countries are Locus already active in?
Singapore is one of the leading global hubs for business. The high level of infrastructure, connectivity, educated workforce and quick tech adoption ability are few of the reasons we were drawn to the country. It also serves as a reference market due to its geographic location as the other countries that we are looking to enter are Thailand and Indonesia.
What are your thoughts on the next generation of logistics innovation/ technology? Are they practical and how soon could they take off?
Though global innovation often helps people all over the world by raising their standard of living and making basic consumer goods more accessible. As of now, it may be too early to predict trends that will have a long-term impact on businesses and which ones are just short-lived hypes that will be forgotten in a year or two.
The types of innovation and technology that lead to intelligent and data-driven supply chains will be the ultimate winners, especially if they make companies more consumer-centric. Also, the incorporation of new-age technology concepts, like Internet of Things and augmented reality, will result in a closer than ever interaction of man and machines working towards a common goal.
In terms of delivery drones, with several beta tests taking place globally, the concept seems to be moving towards quicker adoption in the coming year. Also, the technology behind autonomous vehicles is progressing to what is termed within the industry as Level 3. In 2017, the world is slated to have a look at the first level-3 autonomous vehicle—a vehicle that is able to fully take over from the driver. The speed of adoption in the logistics space, the related rules of the law to comply with, and various other factors will give us clarity in time to come on the potential it holds for logistics.
Can you describe your partnership with Geet Garg? What are the dynamics of the relationship like?
Geet and I make a great team. We collaborate well together in order to complete the T-shaped skills. Geet represents the depth while I manage the company’s strategy and represent the horizontal bar by collaborating across disciplines. We are different in many ways and at the same time, have the same shared values we are aligned with. We have worked together in the past at Amazon. We have become such good friends that we have taken vacations together too.
Entrepreneurs tend to be very busy. Can you share some of your hobbies or what you do outside of Locus?
One of my hobbies is photography. It is much like programming: it is part science and part art. In photography, there are a significant number of aforementioned established practices, like the rule of thirds, or the golden ratio, but yet draws the aesthetic inspiration from nature. This is a critical insight. This is how we create Locus by designing our algorithms behind our powerful optimisation engine to mimic nature, either how ants find their food, or how hot steel cools itself.