Uber for trucking. Is it here?
Drew McElroy, founder of the start-up Transfix, is no newcomer to the trucking industry. McElroy was born into the business; his parents owned and operated the freight brokerage Andrew’s Express, affectionately naming it after McElroy.
“I remember listening to my father structure deals. As a kid, it was all utterly confusing to me,” recalls McElroy. “I finally started to get my head around the economics of the business in my teens. From that point on, I became increasingly aware of the industry’s inefficiencies.”
Not long after McElroy graduated college, his father passed away unexpectedly. McElroy, already working for the family business, took over as president. In that time, McElroy successfully increased annual revenues from $4 million to $12 million. While impressive, McElroy still struggled with how the industry traditionally operated. “It was clear that our family business wouldn’t be the platform for world domination,” laughs McElroy. “But I believed that, fundamentally, there was a better way to get things done.”
Determined to build a new foundation based on his belief in “a better way,” McElroy left the family business and set out for San Francisco. He would spend the next year and a half couch surfing and networking in order to gain the expert business and tech insight he needed to plan what would become Transfix. “I knew logistics and I knew trucking, but I knew nothing about venture capital, or how to move from idea to implementation,” says McElroy. “I decided I should try – and try big. If I fail, I fail, but at least I tried.”
In 2013, McElroy was introduced to Jonathan Salama. Salama was among Gilt’s early engineers, and was pivotal in building the flash sale giant’s infrastructure and inventory software. McElroy knew Salama would be key in taking his idea to the next level; Transfix had claimed its co-founders, and its recipe for industry-leading success.
Transfix is a fully automated marketplace that is all about getting things from one place to another. What sets Transfix apart is the company’s platform and approach is vastly more efficient than the traditional approach, and it is much more user-friendly.
Transfix takes the industry’s inefficiencies head on. Transfix is a digital on-demand freight marketplace. It provides industry-leading mobile technologies and location-based jobs offers for independent over-the-road truck drivers, as well as cloud-based management platforms for small carriers and shippers
Here’s how it works:
A customer logs into the Transfix TMS and enters a new shipment. The platform automatically identifies the best driver depending on location, size of truck, etc., sending a load offer alert to the driver or company dispatcher by mobile SMS message or email. The load is accepted by electronic signature, at which point the customer receives automatic notification and the driver becomes fully visible within the customer’s real-time dashboard. Load management from that point on becomes “as simple as Tinder.” Transfix geofences the driver with a five mile radius, immediately alerting Transfix of any issues. Once the load is delivered, the driver is paid within 24 to 48 hours, significantly faster than the industry standard.
Transfix just launched an app (iOS and Android) that is focused on truck drivers. Transfix’s app integrates with the company’s digital marketplace and is driver-centric. The app gives drivers the ability to manage loads, map their itinerary, and manage payments. The app also provides truck drivers with trip planning essentials including the location of showers, ATMs, weigh stations, fuel prices, and weather. The app is free and can be used by anyone with a valid motor carrier number – the driver does not have to associated with Transfix. “Developing this app and making it freely available to all drivers is just the right thing to do,” says McElroy. “Without drivers, this industry would not exist. We need to do right by drivers by making their lives easier.”
Things are moving fast for McElroy and Transfix. Within 15 minutes of updating his LinkedIn profile, McElroy got a call from a logistics Manager at Barnes & Noble and, before he hung up, had freight loads to manage. Fast forward a few months – with Transfix, Barnes & Noble has realized improvements in their processes and has seen their deadhead runs (times driving without cargo) cut by at least 50%.
Transfix has raised close to $2.5 million to date and is already generating several thousand a month in revenue.
McElroy and Transfix are poised for world domination – mind you, a win-win benevolent hegemony – a la Uber.
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