In his latest blog post at Talking Logistics Adrian Gonzales raises an interesting point: Are Today’s Transportation Tech Startups the Uber of Trucking or the Tinder of Trucking?
I agree that moving freight is much more complex than moving people and that the freight industry will not be disrupted by an app only. It is a much more complex industry than people generally imagine. However, based on the three musts for start-ups to succeed, we have to consider the following:
- Critical mass: once a new startup offers a better way to deal with current industry issues, it only needs to demonstrate critical mass in a specific region, lane or market. That should be enough to generate a strong flow of investments, and that may be too late for incumbents to react. Remember when Yahoo made a $1bn offer to Zuckerberg in July 2006 – Facebook then was not profitable and was only 2 years old. Now Yahoo has just been just sold for $4.8bn and Facebook is worth $347bn. Incumbent 3PLs are nowhere as tech savvy as Yahoo, so when a similar movement happens on the freight industry the results could be even worse for the establishment. In summary, this may happen much faster than people think.
- Relationships: we believe this is currently true only due to the lack of other exterior signals of reliability. Relationships used to matter if you needed to sleep in another person’s apartment. Now the dual rating system of Airbnb is so reliable that you can trust a stranger to crush in your sofa. Once a strong and reliable online community is built, personal acquaintability should matter less.
- Quality: industry disruption will only happen once startups stop behaving like incumbents and start acting boldly. Each day companies that begun claiming to be “uber for trucking” end up with the same 2/3 of headcount composed by sales people. Same freight brokerage model with a better user experience and a lot of phone calls.
We are trying things that were never done before and we dedicate half of our headcount to software engineers and designers. What do you think start-ups need in order to succeed in the logistics industry?
Felipe Capella is co-founder of Loadsmart and Chief Product Officer