betahausX drives the way forward in the Volkswagen/Hermes Europe Last Mile Delivery challenge

Logistics companies have begun to expand the ways in which they make deliveries as the number of people across Europe who shop online, including for food and fresh produce, continues to grow. The upward trend poses a challenge. Companies need to optimize fuel and delivery time, decrease misplaced parcels and be sure that same-day deliveries do arrive on the same day. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe, respectively the largest European fleet of delivery vehicles and parcel delivery operator, hired betahausX to look for a solution that will enable couriers to seamlessly execute the critical Last Mile leg of a package's journey. The end-result of our five-month project to find the most-apt problem solvers in the respective field gave two companies that went on to pilot their solutions with Volkswagen and Hermes Europe while earning a sizable cash prize.

Challenges

  • Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe were looking for startups that can solve a range of Last Mile Delivery problems
  • To develop a concept with two equal infrastructure partners such as VW Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe
  • Finding an emerging, innovative company that can integrate smart solutions in respect to delivery logistics is a challenge itself, considering the complexity of the problem

Outcomes

  • betahausX's campaign for the Logistics Challenge resulted in 10 million impressions across various social networks. The call we sent out to our international professional network yielded more than 1000 applications, which were narrowed down to around 200 for the next phase
  • 10 startups and scale-ups made it to the final leg of the journey, receiving mentorship from industry professionals ahead of the Final Selection Pitch, whose jurors were company executives and board members
  • The representatives from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Hermes Europe selected two companies that earned up to €125.000 each development grant and went on to pilot their solutions in cooperation with the clients

The Journey

In 2019 betahausX was presented with the opportunity to help two major companies in the field of delivery and logistics solve a set of challenges that persist across the European markets, including Germany. 

The problem at hand required us to understand every leg in the journey of a package, the main pivot points where mistakes are typically made, and ultimately discover startups and scale-ups that can develop a pilot solution.

Working closely with representatives from Volkswagen and Hermes Europe, our team received a thorough and hands-on demonstration of the problem.

Volkswagen and Hermes Europe invited us to reimagine the day-to-day working experience of employees. We met and talked with individuals who load and reload the parcels between delivery vehicles, engineers who develop the vans and drivers who make the essential Last Mile Delivery. 

It became apparent that solving the Future Logistics Challenge was going to require applying multiple technological solutions to traditional and new methods of delivering parcels. 

Our team was able to see the future where smart data and communication technologies and smart delivery vehicles intersect. Our challenge now was to curate the problem at hand into a common call for problem-solvers and reach out to thousands of companies around the world. 

The response from across our international network was nothing short than energetic. The main attractors were not only the opportunity to work with Volkswagen and Hermes Europe and carve your name in the history of logistics, but also winning a prize of up to €125,000 for each company that provides the best Proof of Concept.

Our push-and-pull campaign generated unprecedented interest from startups and scale-ups from around the world, with over 1000 applications on the long-list. The mission then was to understand which of these had working prototypes and solutions or were able to develop a custom solution for the clients.

The companies that made it on the shortlist demonstrated they can work with predictive analysis technologies, internet of things, digital workflow management, data visualization, interactive driver applications, connectivity services and other technologies that can be implemented into the ideal pilot solution. 

Again, closely cooperating with the clients, we staged a fact-finding journey where shortlisted applicants met with employees from across the business, to discuss the problem and solution.

Subsequent online and in-person informative and mentoring sessions enabled us to focus on those companies who understood the challenge to its most minute detail and who were able to intersect the different technologies into a viable model. 

The near-finalists took part in the Demo Day, a major event attended by 50 employees, executives and board members from Volkswagen and Hermes who mentored the competitors for the main event. 

We concluded our role in the Future Logistics Challenge by organizing the final pitching competition. The electrifying event brought ten companies to the expert jurors who were in fact the people who will ultimately see to the final onboarding of the solutions. The candidates were able utilize the technologies and tools in the joint logistics development center in order to fine-tune their responses for the pitching competition. 

From the ten, two were selected to solve the Last Mile Delivery challenge. 

Conclusions

betahausX stepped up to a call from two international clients in need of technology updates that will solve a pressing issue at a momentous point in time for the industry. The end-goal for all sides was to streamline the way in which parcels are delivered between businesses and from business to customer. 

Our program entailed scanning our worldwide network of startups, scaleups and industry professionals, resulting in more than one thousand applications. Since Volkswagen and Hermes Europe have different focuses and experiences when it comes to delivering parcels, part of the challenge on our part was to understand the full picture, to the smallest detail.

By successfully communicating between all sides of the equation, we brought the ideal candidates for the challenge Volkswagen and Hermes. To their satisfaction, they onboarded two companies and their pilot projects in solving the Future Logistics Challenge.