Deepak Chhugani, Nuvocargo: Simplifying Cross-Border Trade between Mexico and the US, Ep 116

Deepak Chhugani’s multicultural background was considered rare and unexpected in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he grew up most of his life. He was born in Kenya to Indian parents who migrated to Ecuador in their late 20s. Logically, after studying at university in the US, Deepak wanted to find a way to connect all of these experiences. When he worked in investment banking in New York and Mexico, he saw the intersection that existed between the US and Latin America. Specifically, in trade with Mexico– the US’ largest trading partner.

Coming from a family with a background in logistics, Deepak founded Nuvocargo, a digital freight forwarder and licensed customs broker that helps companies move physical goods between the US and Mexico. 

In this episode, Deepak shares stories about growing up in Ecuador as an Indian immigrant, his experience in investment banking in the US and Latin America, and the reason for pivoting into Nuvocargo after going through YCombinator. We also delve deep into the complexity of carrying out international trade and how Nuvocargo’s solution helps to streamline those processes.

The Lobby

When Deepak was starting his first company, he stood firm on the idea of working on a solution to a problem that affected him personally. At the time, one of his greatest accomplishments had been getting a job in investment banking despite having all the odds against him for that position. His first startup, the Lobby, originated from that experience, and was the vehicle that got him into YC as a single non-tech founder. Although he didn’t follow through with the model, it taught him valuable lessons on what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Learn more about Deepak’s major takeaways from his first startup in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Investors’ reaction to pivoting 

It takes a lot of courage to scrap a fully-fledged business model and start over. Even more so when investors are already involved. Deepak did just that when he decided to pivot his first startup to what is today Nuvocargo. Even though some investors pulled out of the deal, the ones that stayed did so because they had invested in the team. Some of them even tripled their investments with the new business model. Deepak explains that how investors react in these situations can speak volumes of their character. 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about Deepak’s pivoting process and the reaction from investors. 

“Everyday there are about 15K-20K trucks crossing the border”

Deepak explains that most people are unaware of the complexity involved in international trade, despite it being one of the biggest industries in the world. Transporting goods across borders is a highly complex process that can involve seven to eight different stakeholders, different currencies, laws, and languages. It’s an operation that requires a lot of knowledge and efficiency. Nuvocargo helps coordinate that complexity, and digitizes processes that oftentimes are still relying on analogue systems.

Find out in this episode of Crossing Borders how Deepak is bringing innovation to an industry that has yet to jump on the digital transformation other industries are already experiencing.

Deepak Chhugani is at the forefront of innovation in the trade and logistics industry in Latin America. He is leveraging his multicultural background, expertise on logistics, and passion for the region to bring transparency and visibility to trade between the US and Latin America.

Outline of this episode:

  • [1:46] – About Nuvocargo
  • [2:40] – A multicultural upbringing
  • [4:15] – An Indian immigrant in Ecuador
  • [6:50] – Choosing entrepreneurship
  • [8:55] – Pivot into Nuvocargo
  • [17:40] – Investing in the team
  • [20:36] – Deepak’s unfair advantage
  • [23:03] – Import-export process in US-LatAm
  • [27:00] – Trade market size
  • [29:16] – Nuvocargo’s fundraising process
  • [32:50] – Books, blogs, & podcast recommendations
  • [34:14] – Advice to Deepak’s younger self
  • [35:44] – What’s next for Nuvocargo?

Resources & people mentioned:

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