Inside Haul247: The Nigerian logistics startup offering “Airbnb for trucks”

Inside Haul247: The Nigerian logistics startup offering “Airbnb for trucks”

Haul247, a Nigerian end-to-end logistics platform connecting businesses to haulage and warehousing assets, is reimagining the logistics space through its Airbnb-for-trucks model. Here’s how the startup is paving its own way in the logistics space.

“247” is a popular slang that means constant availability of a thing throughout the entire day, all seven days of the week. In the context of business, It emphasizes the idea of unceasing efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. These are some of the qualities that Haul247 prides itself in, according to Sehinde Afolayan, the CEO of the logistics startup. “For logistics, generally, there is no idle time,” he says. During a conversation with TechCabal, Afolayan shares the inside story of Haul247—which he believes has the potential to become the Nigerian equivalent of Airbnb for trucks—and what makes them stand out from established players in the field like Lori and Kobo360.

In the past few years, the Nigerian logistics startup ecosystem has grown tremendously, with the advent of food delivery startups like Jumiafoods and last-mile delivery services like Gokada as well as end-to-end logistics platforms like Lori, Kobo360 and now Haul247. These startups are breaking the barriers of inadequate road networks, traffic congestion, and limited warehousing facilities and making logistics more seamless for businesses.

Haul247 offers large companies the opportunity to book trucks and warehouses for their logistics needs across multiple Nigerian geolocations. According to Haul247’s CEO, they chose to work with large FMCG multinationals such as Unilever, PZ, etc due to their possession of a global vendor registration licence, which allows Haul247 to not only capture a huge market share in Nigeria but to also establish a presence in other countries. However, Haul247 has plans to make its services available to smaller businesses in the future. 

According to Afolayan, Haul247’s secondary distribution featurea warehousing offering for businessessets it apart from pioneers like Lori and Kobo360. Many FMCG manufacturers in Nigeria primarily operate from a single manufacturing hub, with a significant portion of their production activities concentrated in Lagos. From there, their products are distributed to various cities throughout Nigeria. But to Afolayan and Haul247, this system is flawed. 

“We felt that kind of arrangement was not efficient because there were a lot of externalities as a result of the distance. Unilever, for example, is sending a product from Agbara to Maiduguri—more than 1000km distance—and they can’t possibly guarantee the actual time that the product will get there because there are a lot of externalities as a result of the distance. Why can’t we just manage all your distribution centers in all these regions and all you have to do is ship to the distribution centers in those regions?” Afolayan said, explaining Haul247’s solution to this issue. Haul247 acts as an intermediary between different warehouse owners across the country and companies looking to store and distribute their products. 

As an intermediary, Haul247 does not own any warehouses or trucks. “We don’t own anything, we just ensure that the supply and demand are efficient,” Afolayan told TechCabal. “Companies just have to request for a truck or a warehouse via our website, give its specifications; area, location, size, and then we pick it up from there.”

Haul247’s proprietary software enables individuals, enterprises, manufacturers, and FMCGs to book logistics or warehousing services. The software takes an order request from a shipper, attaches a quote, and then matches the request with the most suitable truck and warehouse for efficient fulfillment. Additionally, the system allows shippers to track the status of their goods until they reach their destination.

Generating revenue and expansion plans  

Haul247 generates revenue through the commission they earn from leasing out warehouses to companies. Per a statement seen by TechCabal, Haul247 has over 1,000 trucks on its platform and about 200 warehouses covering over 151,000 square meters of space across various locations in Nigeria.  

Buoyed by a recent $3 million seed round—a mix of equity financing from Alitheia Capital through its Umunthu Fund in partnership with Goodwell and a $ 1 million debt capital—Afolayan told TechCabal that Haul247 is looking to scale and is setting its sights on expansion into Ghana and Uganda. “We want to grow in a sustainable way,” said Afolayan, remarking that they have learned valuable lessons from pioneers in the space. “We are really very concerned about growth that cannot be sustained, we want to grow at a level that can be sustained while giving a very strong service to our customers,” he said. “We don’t want to grow in a way that we are not now focusing on the unit economics or on the value that we’re creating.”

Challenges abound but Haul247 is optimistic for the future

According to Afolayan, lack of talent has been the greatest challenge for the logistics startup. “Talent is the biggest threat to us, especially tech talents. It is always very tough to get them, you have to be mindful of keeping them,” he said. Afolayan also cites the irregularities of some stakeholders—such as truck drivers and warehouse owners—within the logistics ecosystem as a huge barrier to Haul247’s operations. “We have experienced multiple pushbacks from truck drivers- who are a moving part of Haul247’s business model,” he said. “Some of these drivers do not keep up to appointment and  usually disappoint.”

To curb this challenge, Afolayan says Haul247 organises sensitization programmes to teach warehouse owners how to make the best use of their warehouses. Haul247 also incentivizes drivers, organises regular phone call checkups, and imposes a driving time limit to ensure driver safety. 

Despite challenges and a market dominated by powerful competitors, Haul247 is optimistic for the future. “Expect a unicorn in the coming years,” the Haul247 CEO remarked. “Expect a company that is genuinely run by seasoned entrepreneurs that understand how to run a business. We are not going to be all over the place in terms of growth pattern, we will be steady and we will keep growing.”

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