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The CEO of self-driving-truck startup Gatik reveals how he landed Walmart as his first customer

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 30 Mar 2021


<p><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/60621c5467187800184ad1e1-2400/Gatik Press Kit 5.jpg" border="0" alt="Gatik" data-mce-source="Gatik"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>In early 2019, just two years after launching the autonomous-truck startup <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/category/gatik">Gatik</a>, CEO Gautam Narang found himself in Bentonville, Arkansas, with an opportunity to put his new company on the map.</p><p>Gatik was developing technology for self-driving delivery trucks that would carry goods for businesses between distribution centers and stores, what the logistics industry calls the "middle mile." One of Gatik's investors had connected the company with Walmart, which had announced autonomous-vehicle partnerships with <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ford-walmart-partner-deliver-goods-self-driving-cars-2018-11">Ford</a> and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-self-driving-car-grocery-2018-7">Waymo</a> a year earlier. Now, Narang was about to pitch Walmart on becoming Gatik's first customer.</p><p>Narang found that Gatik and Walmart had similar ideas about the retail industry's evolution: As customers expected faster deliveries, retailers would need to find more distribution centers closer to where their customers live. The result would be larger logistics operations that required more trips, more vehicles, and more drivers.</p><p>"It was clear that they saw the world like we did," Narang said.</p><p>By using autonomous vehicles, Gatik believes it can make customers' middle-mile logistics operations more efficient and less expensive. And by having its trucks run the same relatively short routes over and over againwhile avoiding tricky maneuvers, such as lane changes and left turns, whenever possiblethe company can bypass some of the challenges that have slowed the development of self-driving cars designed to carry people.</p><p>That was part of Gatik's pitch to Walmart: If you're interested in using autonomous vehicles, working with us will help you see a return on your investment faster.</p><p>Walmart quickly saw the appeal of working with Gatik, Narang said, and the two companies moved to finalize a deal. The agreement was signed in May 2019, and Gatik started making deliveries a month later. So far, Gatik has put backup drivers behind the wheel to intervene if something goes wrong, but the company is preparing to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-gatik-louisiana-arkansas-autonomous-vehicle-2020-12">remove them</a> on at least one route this year.</p><p>In 2020, Gatik signed another big-name customer in <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/loblaw-gatik-walmart-canada-autonomous-delivery-fleet-2020-11">Loblaw</a>, the largest grocer in Canada. Narang said Gatik is now making between $1 million and $10 million in revenue per day while filling a gap in an autonomous-vehicle industry that has neglected middle-mile logistics. And, Narang said, more partnership announcements are coming soon.</p><p>"This year is going to be very exciting for us," he said.</p><p><em>Are you a current or former Gatik employee' Do you have a news tip or opinion you'd like to share' Contact this reporter at <a href="mailto:mmatousek@businessinsider.com'inline-read-more" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="100" data-uri="bb7a39be2b51ef348ca5cf47f1990a9f">mmatousek@businessinsider.com</a>, on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address <a href="mailto:mmatousek@protonmail.com'inline-read-more" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="100" data-uri="40d12cfd5ad4e7049d45f8d7a91dc35b">mmatousek@protonmail.com</a>.</em></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/gatik-walmart-loblaw-gautam-narang-2021-3#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/pikes-peak-hill-climb-colorado-most-dangerous-racetrack-2020-2">Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America</a></p>
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