Álvaro Echeverría, Co-founder and CEO of SimpliRoute tells us about the best way to make distributions saving costs and time.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Álvaro Echeverría: It has definitely been a challenging time where the first worries that I have had are for my family and friends’ wellbeing. These last few months have not been easy. They have shown that we have few certainties and a high vulnerability as human beings, but confinement gives you more time to reflect and think about what things we can do to help generate a more empathetic world and contribute to the environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SimpliRoute.
Álvaro Echeverría: I am a technology advocate, and part of myself has always been prone to bringing technology and its different benefits to every corner of society. That’s mainly the reason behind studying industrial engineering and further on obtaining a master’s degree in science, so I could build the technology behind the improvement that could benefit millions of people but cost just a fraction of the original costs.
In the last months of my master’s degree thesis, I designed what would grow to become the very first model of technological solution for the firefighters in Santiago, Chile. That program came to reduce up to 40% of the time spent driving by firefighters to reach the different emergency scenarios. It was also the place where I got to know Eyal Shats, who at that moment was working in another startup, my future partner in business and co-founder of SimpliRoute.
How does SimpliRoute innovate?
Álvaro Echeverría: Using technology nowadays doesn’t necessarily translate into innovation. By using technology to solve a problem in a new way that hasn’t been solved, you make sure that innovation is part of your core business model. Innovation stands for me in the shape of equal access for everyone. In my line of business, putting Artificial Intelligence algorithms and Machine Learning software in the reach of the small, medium, and big companies, all of them using the same technology, is innovative.
In SimpliRoute, we help everyone that needs programming a route and delivering products to different clients. With our software, we help by optimizing up to 30% of the total logistics costs involved with the deliveries, up to 80% of the time people spend planning the routes, and even a 10% reduction in the fleet needed to make those deliveries. In a business, our algorithms not only save money but time spent taking decisions, time that can’t be bought back.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Álvaro Echeverría: It has definitely changed the way we made business decisions. We have to be prepared to aid and change fluctuating scenarios of our clients, being able to adjust and cooperate in order to keep our partners operative. Gladly we secured part of our project by lifting a series A investing round last year, which helped us with our growth and international expansion.
In Latin America, digital and e-commerce sales skyrocketed, which brought high demand and pressure on the last mile companies. This, in return, helped us by receiving those companies in search of improvement, making us grow from 250 to over 700 clients in one year.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Álvaro Echeverría: In line with our continued growth, we’ve had to change our mindset and start looking for talents that are more aligned with our goals. In that order, last year, we hired almost 70 people in addition to the 30 coworkers that started the year. It has been challenging to adapt and hire in a work environment that is 100% remote, with all the pros and cons that this has.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Álvaro Echeverría: Our business model has evolved in these changing times, acquiring a more customer-centered vision, in line with the defiant times that online commerce has come to establish. Accordingly, communication with our clients is very fluent in virtual platforms such as Intercom, Slack, WhatsApp, among others. We use these platforms to provide support and generate valued standards in their operations.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Álvaro Echeverría: In the 3MM A series investing round we acquired on April 2020, a fraction of the investors were a government fund called CORFO, that invests in technology and pushes for extending capital on startups that help with development and innovation. This fund was key for our expansion plans across Latin America, where we now have offices in 6 countries (Chile, Argentina, Perú, Uruguay, Colombia, and México). Apart from our physical growth, our team saw benefits and improvement in technology and human resources that have allowed us to be where we are and keep dreaming with Latin America and other parts of the world.
Your final thoughts?
Álvaro Echeverría: In a completely globalized world that has been struck by this Covid 19 pandemic, we have been able to see that the logistics challenges are the same across every country. From Chile, we have created this advanced technology that uses Machine Learning abilities and Artificial Intelligence that enable us to give logistic solutions to companies of all sizes around the world. Our mission is to democratize access to this technology, help small businesses and big corporations of different industries, to be able to substantially improve their logistics operations, uprise efficiency, reduce costs, be more friendly with the environment, and improve their customers’ experience. We are revolutionizing the last mile, and we want to keep growing and improving our product; that is our mission.