“3 accelerator programs in 3 years” Here’s how Williams Fatayo’s TruQ is redefining logistics by moving heavy loads for Nigerians

Godfrey Elimian
Founding TruQ, helping Nigerians move heavy loads and getting into 3 renowned accelerators - meet Williams Fatayo
Founding TruQ, helping Nigerians move heavy loads and getting into 3 renowned accelerators – meet Williams Fatayo

Moving heavy luggage in major Nigerian cities, particularly Lagos, can be a challenging task, especially when relocating to another city. The biggest challenge is finding a trustworthy delivery system or driver. Additionally, pricing can be an issue as drivers may charge arbitrary amounts without considering possible damages that may even occur during the process.

But it is on this premise that TruQ was founded in 2020. TruQ connects anyone with logistics needs to the closest vehicles in real-time and provides a SaaS infrastructure that helps businesses coordinate that interaction smarter and access capital for commercial drivers on the platform, helping them stay running and grow their businesses.

The start of TruQ (pronounced truck) can be traced back to July 2019, when Foluso Ojo and Williams Fatayo (now co-founders) decided to move a wardrobe from Lekki down to Berger on the mainland. Fatayo remembers that they spent four days before getting a vehicle and moving it down.

After this time, Williams asserts that he and his co-founder then embarked on a journey to ascertain the gap in the logistics business across Lagos between businesses and people who wanted to move and then drivers who had the means to deliver heavy luggage.

We got on a journey across Lagos, moving for about 2 weeks, and building a database of about 86 drivers. More importantly, talk to businesses, individuals, and vehicle owners that are involved in this market. Understanding how they currently work and the struggles in between what we discovered was that there was a very wide gap between those that need to move—businesses, individuals, and the people that own the vehicles that can help them move. And that was literally what we set out to solve at the very first instance,” Fatayo said.

Williams Fatayo, co-founder and CEO of TruQ
Williams Fatayo, co-founder and CEO of TruQ

Since launching the platform in February 2020, the business has gone on to power over 300,000 deliveries across 25,000 trips to date and has participated in three renowned accelerators, which include the V8 Growth Labs, Techstars and the more recent Google Black Founders Fund.

On this episode of Founders Spotlight, Technext sat down with Williams Fatayo, co-founder and CEO of Truq, to discuss the success story, the TruQ model, building a sustainable platform, and being part of three renowned accelerators.

Read also: App Review: TruQ Makes Moving Heavy Goods and Packages Easy, Fast and at a Fair Price

Building a sustainable logistics model with TruQ

TruQ was launched in 2020 without owning any trucks. However, the logistics platform enabled on-demand logistics services by allowing vehicle and truck owners to register and communicate with people on its platform. From that time until now, the company has acquired trucks and improved its record-keeping process to create a smooth AI-powered infrastructure that benefits all parties involved.

This is what Williams Fatayo had to say about building a model to last the test of time.

Over the years, we have seen that the issue with third-party logistics goes beyond just that access to vehicles, that connection that our platform ran on. We saw that there were manual processes on the demand and supply side that were every day making their interaction on our platform not just expensive but inefficient.

William Fatayo

“What we have done over the past six to nine months is to build what we now call Siju by TrucQ which is effectively an operating system for third-party logistics. We have taken all of those manual processes on both ends and automated them as efficiently as possible. The three to six hours of Excel work that happens on the demand side now is now happening in less than 10 seconds”, he adds.

According to Fatayo, the platform has gone beyond powering 3PL to powering the supply chain for eventually all businesses in the industry.

We have effectively gone from a 3PL platform to building the engine house that now powers not just the truck platform but every other company out there and business doing logistics. What that means is that we have unlocked the level of efficiency for third-party logistics for our customers like nothing we have ever seen before.

Williams Fatayo
Williams Fatayo, co-founder and CEO of TruQ

Being selected by 3 notable accelerators

In just 3 years since its launch, the logistics startup has successfully enrolled and navigated three different accelerator programs. From their early stages, when they were pre-revenue and enrolled in V8 Growth Labs, to their participation in renowned accelerators like Techstars and the more recent Google Black Founders Fund, Williams sheds light on the invaluable role these accelerators played in propelling Truq’s growth and success.

“I think the biggest factor that I think contributed to that has been this crazy ambition that we have had for the business from day one,” Fatayo says. “One thing that I have seen is that accelerator programs get excited about is that big picture,” he adds.

Sharing what each accelerator phase represented for the company, he says, “When we got into V8 Growth Labs, we had validated on Excel sheet but we hadn’t even built the first iteration of our tech-based product itself. But they saw the validation, they saw that it’s connected though very vaguely to the big picture that we had our eyes on at that particular point in time.

Same thing with Techstars. By the time we got into Techstars, we had already built the initial iteration of our product but we understood that there was a depth that we needed to go to with businesses that we needed to further unlock. That was why Techstars took us on and gave us access to mentors and a network of people who could help us finesse that phase.

Black Founders Fund got excited by our operating system play that we are right in the middle of the entire continent transitioning from a consumer economy to a producing economy…I know that the big picture has been a very big part of what’s got us into this program.

Williams Fatayo

Truq’s current numbers

According to Williams Fatayo, the platform has expanded from what it used to be when it started. Currently, he says TruQ has powered a little over 300,000 deliveries, across about 25,000 trips.

Right now we have close to a thousand drivers registered on the platform across different vehicle sizes from one ton to three tons to two tons, even to five tons up until 15, 20 tons. And that kind of speaks to the kind of flexibility that we give to our customers, that whatever it is that you’re moving there is a vehicle on the platform that helps you move it.

He also adds that TruQ has “about 28 businesses that run on the platform every day. It leads to over 2,300 users that have used the platform to move homes at least once over the past three years. On the SaaS side, we have about six businesses already integrated in. TruQ was the first customer of the platform.”

Speaking about the market it currently operates, Willimas says TruQ currently have an active market presence in three states, Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja.

Challenges so far

Logistics heavily relies on a well-developed infrastructure, including road networks, ports, and efficient transportation systems. However, inadequate infrastructure in Nigeria poses a significant hurdle for logistics companies. Poor road conditions, congestion, and limited access to ports contribute to delays, increased costs, and reduced operational efficiency.

For Fatayo, a mere attempt to start a company in an age-long traditional industry like logistics brings lots of challenges. He says such a person would need to struggle with a market reorientation of sorts.

I spend a good part of my week on the field talking to drivers, and even businesses that don’t believe that I don’t need to talk to a human being. I just need to push something on the screen and the vehicle will come. If the vehicle disappears, who will I call? You just try to put their mind at rest. But that mental mindset change, user education, I think is a big part of what we had to intentionally combat over the course of our journey.”

Another challenge according to Williams is Product adoption..

Product adoption was a very big one. You want to automate for guys that don’t even have smartphones. We started funding low-end smartphones for these drivers. They take it, we onboard them on the app, they start accepting trips and we deduct the cost of those smartphones from their earnings over time.

Williams Fatayo, co-founder and CEO of TruQ

He says immediately after the strategy was deployed, the company’s automation rate went from merely 27% to 67% in the first month.

Expansion plans

With the company already having operations in three cities in the country, Williams asserts that the company’s customers living in other cities already have huge expectations for its expansion.

Between now and 2025, we will be adding about 15 to 20 states to those three states. Also within that time frame, we will be unlocking international expansion. First, the strategy for intra-national expansion is to expand based on the market presence of a lot of our customers.

For international expansions, he says, “the initial workflow is to reach market presence across the regions of the African market. West Africa, East Africa, the MENA region, Central Africa and Southern Africa. And then off hitting a single city in those markets, we start expanding within those markets with economic interaction between the four home cities that we expanded to.”

Finally, Williams says that between now and 2027, the company will be looking at expanding to about seven countries.

Talent acquisition and strength

There is a popular saying that “a tree does not make a forest,” and Williams Fatayo believes this. In establishing a sustainable business, a pool of skilled individuals needs to function as a whole, to bring its objectives to realities. Fatayo also shares this thought as he says the achievement of the startup so far has been due to the people with whom he has shared the vision.

First, if it was all about me, nothing that we have achieved up until today would have been possible. Right now, we have a team of 18 across engineering, operations, business operations, growth and business admin of some sort…I think we’ve been very lucky with the balance of team, skill, experience, passion and ambition that wake up every day, putting their best effort into what you’re building at TruQ.

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