Kashmir's FastBeetle: Downtown duo's startup to address local shipping needs

Srinagar-based bootstrapped courier service targets online merchandise businesses mostly run by female entrepreneurs

As of late Kashmir is witnessing a boom in the small online businesses with a lot of young women entrepreneurs – particularly – selling clothes and other merchandise using Facebook and Instagram, an MBA duo from Srinagar city’s Downtown has come with a solution to their daily logistic issues.

Sheikh Samiullah and Abid Rashid, both 27, have started online courier service, FastBeetle, to provide pickup and delivery services for these new age enterprises of Kashmir. 

“Our logistics platform is for businesses ranging from online grocers, offline and online retail commerce, pharmacies, and individuals. We provide door-to-door delivery service and meet all courier needs of our clients, no matter how big or small they may be,” says Samiullah. He handles the logistics and operations of the company, while as his partner Abid takes care of website and back-end services.

The duo got the idea to open a courier service while they were themselves working for an e-commerce company. Their daily work and regular interactions with the people who were involved in such businesses became the reason for them to open a logistics company. “Though there are a number of courier services operating in Srinagar, these companies mostly work for the big e-commerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart etc.,” says Samiullah.

“There was no one to handle the delivery of these small local online businesses, which would have to hire staff for delivering the stuff on their own. This would not only become a hassle for these small entrepreneurs – who would mostly operate the business from their homes itself, but was also a costly affair.”

Samiullah says the service has helped the young women entrepreneurs of Srinagar a lot. “If there are 100 merchants working with us, 60 are these young women, who sell clothes and ladies stuff through Facebook or Instagram. We do pickups and deliveries for them. And we take full responsibility for their stuff,” he adds.

The role of courier service companies is indispensable for the smooth functioning of the e-businesses. Bootstrapped Fastbeetle.com is a great way to stay fast and reliable for these businesses and their customers as well.

“Shipping delays are a common affair here, given the reasons we know all. But in case of emergencies, they prove catastrophic. But with our team of dedicated staff, we ensure on-time delivery without any lags and delays,” says Abid.

The duo claims that the prices they offer are the most competitive in the market and the service most reliable. “While we guarantee the safety of the packages, the price we offer is the lowest. We don’t charge hefty amounts like other courier services,” says Samiullah.

FastBeetle not only accepts the cash on delivery but in case of return of a product by a customer to the seller, which happens a lot in these kinds of businesses, it does not charge extra.

After starting in October 2018, they gained 20 regular clients for the first month by approaching the people whom they already knew are in the e-commerce business. First, they hired one delivery boy but after 15 days when they saw that they are receiving more orders than one person can handle they hired one more person. Now, after the five months of business, they have five delivery boys and one pick up guy working for them. Besides, they one woman employee working from home, who is doing the social media stuff for them. Starting with 10-15 parcels a day, now they are delivering more than 100 parcels daily.  Mostly they provide the same day delivery; however, an order received in the afternoon is delivered the next day. 

While they were receiving the orders through phone and then entering these orders all in an excel sheet, it was a lot of hassle for them as well as for their clients. So Abid, who has a technology background and handles the backend and website now, made a dashboard on the website of the FastBeetle, which can be operated by a client directly and will keep all the record in a hassle-free manner for both the client as well as FastBeetle.

The order management system (OMS) developed for the FastBeetle by Abid and once the client enters the order on the website, people at FastBeetle immediately receive a message and they act upon it.

Earlier they were delivering within Srinagar city only but now they have expanded to Anantnag, Sopore and Ganderbal towns as well. Next target is to start operations in Baramulla. “We want to first expand our services across Kashmir and then move to other parts of J&K. We will go step by step, first we will cover all the towns and then try to reach out to the rural areas with franchise and partner arrangements,” he adds.

For the couriers, which they need to deliver outside Kashmir, they have tied up with First Flight.

The duo’s 2019 target is to create a mobile app, to open a branch in Jammu and reach out to two or three more towns in Kashmir.

“Our aim is to help these small enterprises flourish. If they will grow, we will automatically grow,” Abid signs off.