One of the primary problems plaguing the conventional freight industry today is the lack of affordable track-and-trace providers in the market that can provide real-time visibility to shipments. FreightTracer, a startup from Texas, is providing its customers real-time visibility into all their shipments - anytime and anywhere across any carrier.
FreightTracer is a freight tracking platform that works across the complete spectrum of people involved in the domain - be it an independent driver, shipper, a third-party broker, or an asset-based carrier - allowing them to track, measure and report on all their shipments.
The co-founders of FreightTracer have considerable experience working in the freight hauling industry with decades of experience, and it helped them identify the crucial services that the industry was lacking.
“There aren’t a lot of track-and-trace solutions in the market. MacroPoint has a solid product in the vertical, and they have become the de facto standard in the space. But what we realized by talking with prospective customers is that there is something missing from the solutions on the market and we are trying to fill that gap,” Mark Eichinger, co-founder and COO, says.
“We developed a lightweight mobile application that runs on the driver’s phone and will relay their location back to our services at a more granular frequency - every 15 minutes,” he adds. That way, we get a more accurate view of where they are and how far away they are from pickup and delivery locations, and have the ability to analyze that data in a variety of other ways.”
FreightTracer is looking to establish partnerships with technology vendors to get a leg-up against the competition.
“We feel that by integrating with ELD & TMS platforms and driver-centric mobile tools, we can provide more value to our customers and would help us anchor ourselves into the industry,” Eichinger notes.
“We are also looking to competitively price our products and make them affordable for our users to run. We are aggressively going after the carrier market - the owner-operators, small fleet owners, and the carrier networks - to run our products to manage their fleet of trucks. If we are established in that space, we can leverage that to sell in the manufacturing & distribution domain in the future as well.”
It is interesting to note that the initial solution of FreightTracer did not start out this way.
“Our original goal was to create a full-blown TMS that was going to compete with the mid-tier TMS systems on the market,” Eichinger says. “But as we were developing the TMS, we realized we wanted to introduce real-time track-and-trace capabilities into the TMS. We regrouped at that point, deciding to just create FreightTracer as a stand-alone platform since the TMS effort was a much larger product to design, develop, sell and scale.”
FreightTracer also includes carrier analytics in its repertoire. “It tells you how well the drivers are performing for the customer. Users can get to see their carrier’s pickup and delivery times and how often they are on-time versus being late. We do the real-time analytics from both the customer’s and driver’s perspective,” explains Eichinger.
“We also provide an extra option for drivers to confirm if they are on-site - as a second checkpoint,” he adds. “Based on the scheduling type, we determine when they get on site, and we roll up the numbers based on percentages on shipments.”
This allows FreightTracer to create a scoring system which can reward consistent drivers. Customers who sign up can rate drivers based on how responsive or communicative they are. It also helps users to check on the standing of drivers or their associated companies and decide on using them on successive freight hauling work.
Eichinger believes that the product-market fit is a long sales cycle and it is about finding synergy between the product and a variety of decision makers. “We are trying to focus on small fleet owners because their business decisions take less than a few hours, compared to a large manufacturing company,” Eichinger says.
One of the most significant challenges for FreightTracer is to convince drivers to use the application on their phones to track shipments because a lot of them are paranoid of being tracked. Independent drivers are very resistive to change and educating them about the technology is exhaustive.
“We are now introducing features that would make it hard for a driver to say no,” says Eichinger. “We are going to create partnerships from the mobile application perspective that can provide additional value to the drivers on the road.”
FreightTracer has seen considerable success with its customers, all in the few months of its existence. The business is bootstrapped at the moment and is entirely funded by existing partnerships. Eichinger believes that injecting additional funding into the startup would help accelerate the process of expansion faster and thus is currently looking for possible investment options.