We talked to Angel Batalla of Last Mile about solutions to urban goods delivery, congestion, emissions, and cost, and this is what he had to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Angel Batalla: Good, thanks for asking. My wife, elder son, and his fiancée were infected at the very beginning before the world knew it was facing a pandemic, but they had only mild symptoms. Since the lockdown in mid-March, we have been on guard. We have had minimal contact with people out of the first relationships circle, even when the authorities lifted some of the restrictions. That has definitely worked; we are all healthy, holding up well, and working even more than before the pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Last Mile.
Angel Batalla: I come from an unremarkable background. My parents struggled along the way to raise a family and give my sister and me the best education they could afford.
I went to university to study Marine Engineering, and a few years later, I graduated with honors. With a never-satisfied curiosity for learning, I have ever since constantly striving to realize personal and professional growth and continually develop new skills.
I have lived in different European, American, and African countries working for major corporations on the design, leadership, and execution of over a dozen major Value Chain initiatives in the Consumer, Pharma, and Professional Products sectors.
I have tried to help social entrepreneurs develop efficient value chains throughout my professional career to maximize their social impact and value. Four years ago, I realized that I was not able to make a difference at the scale I would like, so I founded Last Mile Team to create inclusive digital solutions to solve urban logistics and Last Mile distribution congestion, emissions, and cost problems and contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable world.
How does Last Mile innovate?
Angel Batalla: We develop, integrate and orchestrate technologies and business processes to enable cities and companies to co-design, implement and manage the day-to-day of disruptive and sustainable urban goods distribution models to solve its problems balancing customer convenience and competitive dynamics while minimizing customer disruption.
Our solutions can manage any public-private entities partnership, cooperative, collaborative, and/or co-repetitive formula of current transport service providers, bridge the digital divide, and favor the inclusion of entities of the Social and Solidarity Economy.
Consistently reduce congestion and emissions by over 30% and costs over 25% with current vehicle fleets by maximizing vehicle utilization, reducing the number of vehicles, optimizing routes, reducing kilometers run on empty and the associated emissions.
We are partners in several European Commission funded research and innovation initiatives, have earned several recognitions, and are one of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Urban Mobility Scale-ups.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Angel Batalla: We were in a fast take-off roadshow when covid-19 broke. We had launched in Spain in January 2020, with planned events in major fairs in Europe and the US from March to June. When she came, we fell into an abrupt standstill as the majority of our industry retail, wholesale, and hospitality industries customers.
We immediately “soft-pivoted” and developed additional functionalities to ensure social distancing and support makers and other communities. We participated in #EUvsVirus, #innovationagainstthevirus, and other events where we made good relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs that we still maintain and gained recognition for the contribution of our solutions to fight the negative effects of the virus.
During the lockdowns, the goods transport industry was able to offset the increased B2B and B2C delivery demands because personal mobility was severely restricted, and the authorities temporarily suspended most regulations to facilitate the supply of goods to all citizens. It was very clear to us that we had to hibernate until we get back to whatever “new normal” means.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Angel Batalla: We have had to make budget cuts and postponed decisions around technology investments and hiring, always balancing the trade-offs between short-term survival and maintaining the condition to accelerate when the reset comes and take advantage of future opportunities.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Last Mile in the future?
Angel Batalla: As best as I can! I keep my mind occupied participating in all initiatives-for-good and calls all over the world where I feel I could add value while maintaining a non-invasive relationship with prospective customers and a keen eye on the marketplace evolution.
We have a brilliant future in front of us. Citizens demand more and more home services, but at the same time want more public space, less polluted air and are not ready to tolerate the invasion of vehicles. Retailers, hospitality, and all other city trade need fluid replenishment. And the municipal authorities are in the middle. Our solutions reconcile all stakeholders’ demands.
And the European Commission fired last week the starting shot to put European transport on track for the future, launching the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which sets more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets than there were before the pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Angel Batalla: Urban logistics and Last Mile delivery TAM WW value is about three trillion USD. A very fragmented market with no dominant players in most of its segments, and very few in the Cities with over 50 thousand inhabitants, Corporate and Enterprise segments where we compete.
We stand out from the crowd because of our validation as a line-of-business application and preferred solution status by Microsoft and Honeywell. Only a handful of startups or established competitors can match that.
Your final thoughts?
Angel Batalla: I hope we’ve learned something and we seriously tackle climate change to prevent the next pandemic.