Interview with Mr. Swarup Bose, Founder & CEO Of Celcius
With over 16 years of experience in cold chain logistics, Swarup Bose is the founder and CEO of Celcius, a company dedicated to digitizing the cold chain in India.
Swarup’s vision is to establish Celcius as the nation’s largest network of cold chain vehicles and warehouses, catering to businesses of all sizes across even the most remote cities.
Swarup’s vision for Celcius was born during the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, when the unavailability of staff and coordination errors caused chaos in the transportation of essential goods across the country.
Recognizing the need for a robust and seamless cold chain to aid in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and to meet the sustained demand for contactless deliveries, Swarup and his team came together to create a paradigm shift with Celcius.
His efforts have been recognized by leading media and industry platforms, with mentions as an ‘ET aspiring Indian’ for Innovation in Technology Logistics supply chain, and Economic Times Promising Entrepreneurs of India 2021, among others.
Swarup holds a Master’s degree in Computer Application and combines his experience in the logistics and supply chain sector with effective tech adoption to address challenges and bridge systemic gaps in the industry.
In his free time, Swarup enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, scuba diving, and playing basketball.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got interested in the cold-chain industry?
Swarup Bose: I have been working in the Cold chain logistics sector for over 16 years and I feel there is a lot that can be achieved through digitizing the cold chain in India.
My vision for Celcius took shape during the pandemic and the resultant nationwide lockdown that was first implemented in March 2020.
The unavailability of staff and coordination errors between the shippers and transporters created chaos in transporting essential commodities across the country.
Furthermore, the sustained demand for contactless deliveries and anticipating the need for a robust and seamless cold chain to aid the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, I was able to see the gap and knew I could fill it with a tech enabled solution and that is when Celcius was created.
Since I was already in the cold chain business, I already had a good head start and with the help of my colleagues, we were able to put together a team that was equally passionate about creating a paradigm shift in the cold supply chain sector, with Celcius.
Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey
Swarup Bose: I have been in the cold supply chain space for 16+ years and I come from a strong technology background.
So whenever I was faced with a challenge or a problem in the cold supply chain or logistics as a sector, I would analyse it and almost always found that it could be solved with effective technology adoption.
Then, during the pandemic, an opportunity presented itself, considering the sheer pressure and challenges that the logistics and last mile delivery sector was facing due to the lockdown.
That’s when I decided to take the leap and start working to create solutions that marry my tech expertise to my domain expertise in the logistics and cold supply chain sector.
It was a decision derived from my passion for the field and the urge to solve the problem than just an ambition to become an entrepreneur.
My journey so far has been a good one and I am more than grateful for the response Celcius has got from the sector and the stakeholders.
Since inception, we have grown to 4500+ vehicles, 107 cold storage’s, 7 Dsitribution centre’s, 100+ Hyperlocal riders and have grown 20 X in the period of the last 1 year. We are also excited to be announcing our new offerings in the coming months!
Kindly brief us about your startup, its specialization, and the services that it offers
Swarup Bose: Celcius is the first online marketplace in cold-chain logistics and warehousing in India and the only digital aggregator platform.
Its comprehensive proprietary tech solution includes a SaaS marketplace that offers end-to-end solutions connecting all the stakeholders of the cold-chain ecosystem, including solutions for reefer logistics and cold storage warehousing.
Through its innovative solutions, Celcius is building a value proposition by adopting technology to solve challenges in inefficiency, transparency, and discovery, and provide quality assurance in the cold-chain logistics market while aggregating fragmented demand and supply across regions.
For example, booking reefer vehicles across India has always been a big pain point. There is no direct visibility on the availability of such vehicles.
CELCIUS is the only platform having a web-based and android-based app that allows for the discovery and booking of various sizes of refrigerated vehicles across India.
Also, apart from booking, the app also allows for real-time tracking, tracing, data analytics, downloading reports, and making payments, all online!
This completely transforms the traditional system of booking such vehicles via broker and agents, and bring transparency and efficiency into the system.
What inspired you to start your own cold-chain marketplace startup?
Swarup Bose: While the final push came during the pandemic in March 2020, I was already acutely aware of the yawning systemic gaps in the traditional cold supply chain model.
As a nation, we currently incur food losses worth about $14bn, most of which are post-harvest losses, due to inefficiencies in its cold supply chain.
Challenges like lack of temperature monitoring in cold storages, using non-refrigerated vehicles for last mile transport for smaller quantities or for shorter distances, lack of tracking and tracing technology to monitor distribution, and inaccurate handling of products with untrained drivers and delivery agents, are some of the key issues in terms of managing perishables.
The lack of affordable cold storage and cold transport facilities is another common challenge faced by rural farmers and food producers.
Since fresh produce has a limited shelf life, farmers with no access to refrigerated storage are forced to sell their harvest at lower costs, to avoid wastage. This leads to financial losses and also reduces their access to wider markets.
A strategically planned cold storage and cold transport facility can help solve several wastage problems and help fight hunger and build food security while also benefiting farmers.
Additionally, with the help of a robust cold storage and cold supply infrastructure, food and perishables can last longer, have better quality, further reach, and thus better revenues for all involved.
How does your marketplace differentiate itself from other players in the cold-chain industry?
Swarup Bose: Celcius’s HYBRID SaaS-based marketplace is designed to create a robust, unbroken cold supply chain network connecting Shippers, Transporters, and Cold Storage owners across the country.
Through this platform, we aim to connect various cold chain stakeholders and deploy tech-first solutions to reduce the massive in-transit wastage of perishables caused by cold chain malpractices and inefficiencies.
By bridging the systemic gaps through a tech ecosystem, we have been able to help cut losses while also enhancing efficiencies, and accountability, and bringing transparency to the process.
And it is already enjoying an enthusiastic response! In just two years, we have grown 20 times and expanded our operations from 5 to 350 cities.
Can you walk us through the process of how a customer would use your platform to transport and store their cold-chain products?
Swarup Bose: Celcius’s web and android applications allow a shipper to instantly book reefer vehicles or cold storage space across the nation and monitor the inventory LIVE!
The shipper can download reports and receive specialized alerts for any variation in temperature maintenance or route deviations.
The app also empowers the transporters to analyze how their vehicles are performing using TMS (Transport Management System) giving even the smallest of transporters the tools needed to maximize the utilization of their assets.
Machine learning and predictive analysis allow the company to map requirements and deploy unused inventory at the right time and the right place. Finally, the payment can be made in a single click by either card, bank transfer, or UPI on the app.
Apart from this, Celcius also offers a multi-temperature loading option, multi-location pickup, and drop facility, last mile deliveries for smaller volumes, and also the convenience of a ratings system for transporters and shippers and an online bidding system for negotiations.
How do you ensure the quality and safety of the products being transported and stored on your platform?
Swarup Bose: Celcius’s last-mile platform is designed to monitor and analyze gaps in distribution and deploys a predictive algorithm to eliminate potential risk areas, reduce bottlenecks, speed up ETAs, and provide shippers with absolute visibility of their product from start to end.
Additionally, their optimized IoT devices which facilitate real-time tracking, are integrated with their in-house TMS and WMS systems and their SaaS platform, making it a seamless tech-enabled ecosystem, such that every product that is booked, and distributed is traced in real-time, right up to the last single unit of Milk, Chocolate, medicine, and other temperature-controlled products.
The tech enablement optimizes the last mile and helps address issues of timely delivery and loss due to wastage, maximizing profitability for all parties and enhancing food security in the country.
How do you see the cold-chain industry evolving in the next 5-10 years, and how is your marketplace positioning itself for that future?
Swarup Bose: The cold supply chain has, in the post COVID era, emerged as an integral part of a successful supply and logistics network, especially for food and pharma sectors.
With rising opportunities in international trade, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses and economies to invest in creating a strong cold chain infrastructure, given its emerging role in pharma and food security for the entire world.
Key trends that will shape the growth will include tech innovations and adoption of green practices, that will be instrumental in addressing both existing and evolving problems across the cold supply chain and logistic sector.
We at Celcius are positioning ourselves as aggregators to provide seamless, end-to-end cold supply chain solutions that as effective and relevant.
We want to drive efficiency through tech innovation and have already started a lot of industry-first activity like last-mile delivery solutions for volumes as low as 50kgs. We hope to keep evolving and leading the change that will shape the cold supply chain industry.
What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur?
Swarup Bose: I don’t think anyone turns into an entrepreneur. I rather think an entrepreneur lives in each one of us. I was just one of the lucky few to get the opportunity to follow my passion and turn that into a business.
The drive to build something, solve a real-life problem, answer to something bigger than yourself have been driving factors for me in my journey as an entrepreneur.
What is your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Swarup Bose: I would rather share what inspires me and keeps me going – 2 words : Persevere and Believe!
One needs to learn to Persevere through all the challenges. There is not a single successful person today who didn’t go through extremely challenging times which made them almost give up on their goals.
But persevering through the tough times is the biggest asset any entrepreuner can have. When the world turns and times are tough, Persevere and Stand tall!
Another very important factor is to Believe in yourself, believe in your product, believe in what you are building. It is vital to not let that belief waiver.
And lastly, take advise from whoever gives it but use your instincts because no one can foresee what you can become. That is a vision that only lies in your eyes and you are the only one who can see it clearly.
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