© Lucian Milasan

Adding to the long list of failed start-ups, India’s notable digital freight forwarder “Freightwalla” has ceased all operations, local industry sources told The Loadstar.

Sources said the company, which had a headcount of some 75 employees at full flow, has already fired its entire workforce.

Mumbai-based Freightwalla was founded in 2016 by a team of three budding techpreneurs, with Sanjay Bhatia the frontline industry face.

“The founders were looking for a merger opportunity, but that didn’t go through, post which they were not willing to fund anymore themselves,” one source said.

“And they couldn’t find any new investors, either.”

The unsuccessful merger bid was with a Singapore-based tech company, sources said.

Talks to sell the logistics start-up to a local fintech platform, reportedly named CredAble, also collapsed, after making some headway.

One aggrieved mid-level Freightwalla executive, on the condition of anonymity, told The Loadstar that no “official” reasoning for the closure was provided by the company management.

“Many of us were not even paid severance entitlements,” the executive complained.

Freightwalla, on its website, boasted it had won $4m Series A funding, serving more than 2,000 user clients and 10,000 port pairs via partnerships in over 40 countries and preferential contract arrangements with 60 plus shipping lines.

With uncertain freight market conditions around, the fate of Freightwalla is another indication that investors have begun to move more gingerly in funding start-ups, a tech industry observer noted.

Freightwalla grabbed considerable industry headlines as a one-stop digital solutions provider to challenge traditional, relationship-based “mom-and-pop” freight brokerages, run with opaque business methods.

Pricing transparency and shipment visibility have been the core selling points of these logistics tech start-ups, following in the footsteps of global trailblazers Freightos and Flexport.

The Indian list includes Shipwaves, Freightbro, FreightCrate and Cogoport. But with funding challenges, the going has been tough for most of them, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Allcargo Group, India’s logistics leader and the parent of global LCL consolidator ECU Worldwide, has rejected reports that it had made any kind of market efforts to sell its express logistics arm Gati.

Fast-growing Delhi-based e-commerce logistics platform Delhivery was rumoured to be in the race to acquire Gati.

Shashi Kiran Shetty-led Allcargo took control of Gati in 2019, initially buying a 44.6% stake for some $58m.

“The company is not in discussion with anyone regarding such a sale,” Allcargo said in a statement. “Gati remains an important and integral part of Allcargo Group, and we remain focused on strengthening the group’s position in the fast-growing express logistics business segment,” it said.

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