Contributed by: Peter May, Regional General Manager of Trella
As we close in on our tenth year of ecosystem building in the MENA region, we are celebrating the wins of the AstroLabs community. Today we sit down with Peter May, the Regional General Manager at Trella, as he reflects on Trella’s journey from its inception until now, and contemplates its future endeavors.
When you are a newly established logistics company trying to enter the competitive UAE market, you face a lot of challenges. This was definitely the case for Trella. However, we found a local supporter, AstroLabs, and through their help and competence, we were able to secure a successful presence in the UAE.
One of the major issues we faced was navigating regulations and building relationships with local partners. AstroLabs provided valuable support in this area. The COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent economic downturn also presented unexpected challenges for us, particularly in key industries such as petrochemicals. We saw this as an opportunity to shift our “where to play” choices and explore new areas and new relationships.
Trella’s operations skyrocketed since the startup days, and today their digital logistics marketplace has a solid presence in 4 major markets. They even placed 15th on Forbes’ 2022 list of MENA’s Most-Funded Startups, with an astonishing 49 million USD in total funding.
Challenging conditions are nothing new to us. In fact, Trella operates within some really challenging markets from an infrastructure standpoint, such as Egypt. Embracing digital technologies has played a crucial role in our ability to cater to the needs of these markets. Mobile apps and digital payment systems have allowed us to connect customers and vendors in remote and under-served areas. Over all, digital technologies have improved our ability to offer a consistent service across all operating markets by driving adherence to global processes and approaches.
The most impactful element of digitization has been the power of aggregation. This technology gives us the tools to effectively manage hundreds, even thousands of vendors, particularly in extremely fragmented markets like Egypt and Pakistan.
From the very beginning, we have been adamant on enabling SMEs in the trucking industry and activating their potential. Through digital aggregation, we were able to introduce these local companies to new client bases and new revenue streams, but also to new technologies and digital solutions.
It is very important for us to empower these small independent businesses, because with our knowledge of the sector, we can help them optimize their operations and grow. Their growth goes hand in hand with ours, and the better support we can provide, the more streamlined and efficient our own operations will be.
We know firsthand how much difference it makes to receive the right support. Setting up would have been considerably more complicated without AstroLabs by our side. They provided us with connections with investors, potential customers, and debt financing entities, as well as guidance throughout the incorporation and set-up process.
They also provided office and space support, even in Riyadh, during a time when Trella was looking to expand its footprint beyond its core operational offices. The AstroLabs community and expansion teams were essential in easing setup challenges and guiding us smoothly through the entire process.
Looking back at the last few years, we understand now that an ecosystem can only thrive when all of its components come together. The role we chose to play is to promote technology as a tool to uplift under-served markets and businesses, just as a strong local partner uses its expertise to optimize market operations in a broad sense.
When every player is doing their part, pushing forward in the direction of digital transformation, then you end up with cutting-edge technologies that serve and improve the market ecosystem in its entirety.