Kashyap has a unique history of being a fourth-time entrepreneur, previously selling companies to OpenTable and Future Group. He is also a best-selling author and investor. Kashyap started his first company as a college student at IIT Bombay and sold it to a Silicon Valley firm.
In his current role, Kashyap is focused on driving technology that powers the gig economy and how the workforce is shifting to flex work (including field service, delivery, and rideshare drivers).
Our conversation with Kashyap was timely with the impact holidays have on tech in both traditional commerce and e-commerce.
M.R. Rangaswami: What are some of the technology innovations that will most impact the logistics market this upcoming holiday shopping season, and why should consumers care?
Kashyap Deorah: From what I am seeing, the bigger bottleneck to fulfillment is workforce supply rather than demand. Innovations that can help retailers and ecommerce companies find warehouse and delivery workforce will lead to high impact in terms of fulfilling consumer demand. This adds to the global supply chain woes and rising oil prices. In some ways, this is probably the first supply-driven recession, rather than a consumption or demand-driven recession.
More specifically, there are flex work marketplaces where retailers can post jobs, and these platforms match nearby workers with the right skills, and then manage the end-to-end experience from making sure they show up, to spending the right amount of time, charging for the right time and distance, and so on. Flex workers are being hired for warehouse, store, delivery and other jobs that facilitate last mile logistics. Technology innovations that accelerate this trend will directly impact online shopping this holiday season.
M.R.: Walk us through the past, present and future of gig work, and explain how logistics technology builders have evolved alongside. Also where do you predict the gig economy will go next?
Kashyap: Gig work is quite an irony of our times. When the Department of Labor first came up with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, at the end of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt and team never imagined that one day there would be a class of businesses driven by workers who are working for themselves, yet integrally driving the entire business that they serve. Now, 2% of America’s GDP (half a trillion dollars) relies on the gig economy and is growing fast. Businesses, workers and the government are slowly but surely coming to terms with this reality.
With the Great Resignation, the gig economy is set to grow to an even higher portion of the GDP. The trend goes well beyond rideshares, food and grocery deliveries, and affects all industries that employ hourly, daily, weekly wage workers. The gig model brings meritocracy and the power of the Internet to a labor market that has been stuck in the archaic model of fixed hourly rate and time-and-a-half overtime paradigm since the 1930s. The post-WWII paradigm of employer-sponsored healthcare will also need to be revisited.
M.R.: You have mentioned that last mile logistics technology and operations require an overhaul – what does this overhaul entail and how will it affect both the gig workers whose job it is to supply last mile delivery and services, and the consumers who have come to expect “instant commerce”?
Kashyap: Logistics tech is long in the tooth. Commerce has focused on deploying technology to win more customers and orders on the front-end. It is a recent phenomenon that fulfillment (last mile logistics) has gone from being the back-end to the key value proposition, or the front-end. In other words, consumers put convenience ahead of product and price when they choose where to shop. Old logistics tech that was built for scheduled delivery by a rostered workforce is finding it hard to meet the moment. A few on-demand apps are gaining market share at the expense of the incumbents due to their modern logistics tech. The biggest overhaul in logistics technology would be to enable gig workers to fulfill on-demand and same-day deliveries with the help of live location and mapping tech. From route planning, to assignment, to seeing the order through to delivery, it all needs to be orchestrated in real-time.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com