UAE start-up Trukker mulls public listing as it looks to expand

The company recently raised $10m venture debt from US-based Partners for Growth

Trukker founder and chief executive Gaurav Biswas. Courtesy Trukker
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Trukker, a UAE start-up that provides an Uber-like service for trucks, is preparing for a potential listing as it aims to raise fresh funds to propel regional growth, its founder said.

"In a few years, maybe sooner than we expect, a listing on the Saudi Tadawul is likely," Gaurav Biswas, the company's founder and chief executive, told The National.

“Trukker has most of the top regional and international funds as investors and we are working towards a strong equity raise in H1 2021 … to further concrete our regional dominance and expand into other markets," added Mr Biswas, who did not disclose further details related to the potential listing.

The Trukker app averages more than 1,200 transactions a day, and the additional funding will be used to hire more staff and facilitate a geographical push.

Last week, Trukker, which is based at Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, raised $10 million venture debt from Silicon Valley-based Partners for Growth, its first investment in the Middle East.

With a fleet of more than 25,000 trucks and 500 business-to-business customers, Trukker plans to use the new funds to finance the “instant payment of thousands of transporters” operating on the firm’s network in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It will plug a funding gap as the company instantly pays those who deliver loads but has to wait for its own invoices to be settled.

“The banking sector in the region is not as sophisticated when it comes to receivable financing or lending to tech start-ups … so we really had to turn to venture debt for this funding,” Mr Biswas said.

Venture debt deals are rare in the Middle East, as opposed to raising equity to fund start-ups.

“I expect to see a lot more deals like this in the Middle East now,” he added.

Trukker completed a seed round at the end of 2017 before closing a $23m Series A round led by Saudi Technology Ventures in November 2018. Other participants included the International Finance Corporation, Middle East Venture Partners, Riyad Taqnia Fund, the Oman Technology Fund, Iliad Partners, Shorooq Ventures and Endeavour Catalyst Fund.

Trukker is growing at a rapid pace as a digital freight network “consolidating the very fragmented and unorganised land freight sector”, Mr Biswas said.

“This creates significant opportunities for both debt and equity fundraising through private roadshows and regional public markets,” he added.

Trukker offers an interesting proposition for a debt fund to support a diverse and growing portfolio of debtors, Jason Geogatos, PFG’s managing director, said.

“We are very excited about working with the Trukker team to provide capital to help them scale their impressive platform harnessing the trend of increasing technological adoption to deliver efficiencies across the massive freight industry across the Middle East,” he added.

The offer of regular jobs and guaranteed cash payments has attracted drivers to the app, and the ability for companies requiring haulage services to see how reliable drivers are and for work to be carried out at competitive rates, has allowed it to attract companies of all sizes, including multinationals like Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

“We are disrupting a very fragmented industry, both operationally and commercially, by using advanced data science and technology tools … one of our capabilities is the ability to finance instant payments to the small transporters,” Amit Agarwal, Trukker’s group chief financial officer, said.

Founded in 2016, Trukker currently employs more than 175 people in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

It operates in five countries in the Middle East and North Africa and is currently executing a wider regional expansion, including launching its services in Pakistan.

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