For the third iteration of our fireside chat blog post series, we hosted Apeksha Kumavat. Apeksha is Co-Founder and Chief Engineer at Gatik, a company focused on short-haul, business-to-business (B2B) logistics for the retail industry, enabling its customers to optimize their supply chain at affordable convenience.
Here are five takeaways from the discussion:
1. How has the autonomous driving industry evolved since you co-founded Gatik?
“Back in 2017, there were a lot of projections on when autonomy would be realized in the robotaxi and long-haul trucking markets. Robotaxis and long-haul trucking are truly great autonomy applications, but the projected timelines were unrealistic. For years, the narrative in our industry has been that autonomous vehicles at scale are five to ten years away. One of the main reasons for this delay is that many AV companies are trying to tackle the entire challenge of autonomy all at once. The truth is, there is still a substantial journey ahead before these applications can be implemented at scale.
On the other hand, Gatik’s business model and approach to structured autonomy enable us to outpace other companies and safely remove the driver from our autonomous trucks relatively quickly. Our unique middle-mile use case involves operating on known, repeatable routes, moving goods between our customers’ warehouses, distribution centers, micro-fulfillment centers, and retail locations. This practical and realistic application has propelled our success and positioned us to make a significant impact in the market today.”
2. How do you see the industry developing in the coming years?
“The way autonomy will be commercialized won’t be a step function. There will be markets in specific areas where you’ll see certain deployments, and there will be learnings across the ecosystem that the industry will have to adapt to. There won’t be a specific day when you’ll suddenly see thousands of autonomous vehicles on the road. It will be a more iterative and sequential process.”
3. Did you always know you were going to be a founder?
“I didn’t always know. It was more organic. Back in 2016, when my co-founders, Gautam and Arjun reached out to me regarding the vision and starting the company, I was very sold on the way they were thinking about how autonomy can solve the pain points of on-demand delivery. The use case made perfect sense.”
4. What’s your biggest takeaway from founding a company?
“Focus is highly underrated. This comes with the prize of saying no to a lot of things. Having a brutal focus, both on a high level and in my day-to-day work, has been key to my journey at Gatik.”
5. What is Gatik doing differently from its peers?
“When we started Gatik, there were two things we honed in on: First, solving a true customer pain point. There needs to be a real need for the product we are developing. Second, a technology that’s realistic in the near term. It’s not just about solving technological problems, but also about how the technology gets baked into a product that can be used to solve the customer’s pain point.”