In the tussle to improve conditions of the freight marketplace for both the carrier and shipper community, a lot has been left to be desired for the truck driver fraternity. A community-driven application named Road Hunter is now trying to take center stage - helping truckers on the road with essential information on truck stops, fuel stations, repair shops, and even weather updates.
Road Hunter founder Mikhail Dzarasov is an engineer who has deep roots in the freight industry. “My cousin and I used to have a trucking company in Chicago several years ago. Back then, we struggled to find a good TMS for providing our truck drivers with proper routing. It was such an uphill task,” he says. “I since then moved to the Silicon Valley for my degree and worked in major corporations like Google and Apple for a few years. With the experience I gained, I realized that I had the skills and the industry insight to develop an application that could ease the life of a truck driver.”
Road Hunter is a personal navigation assistant which helps truckers plan their route. It works on providing trucks with specific routing based on data analytics and parameters like weather conditions, low clearance bridges, truck stops, and utility stations. With over 75,000 downloads on the application and 2,000 daily active users, Road Hunter has a lot of crowdsourced data to work with. “We have a lot of forums inside our app, like trucking news and real-time weather updates. Our main goal is to make trucking easier,” says Dzarasov.
Though there are a few players in the niche, Dzarasov believes that his competitors are not breathing down his neck. “Our biggest competitors are Trucker Path and My ONE20, but I trust our product to be much better. Though they have drawn huge investments, I believe we are beating them in the race because we actually know the problems faced by truckers and what they need to solve it,” explains Dzarasov.
Also, since Road Hunter is completely bootstrapped to date, the startup has the choice to pivot on ideas without any shackles associated with having investors on board. This allows the company to be dynamic and hustle towards improving on its application based on trucker feedback.
“We ask our users personal feedback through our app, on what kind of features they would want to have. Based on their comments, we do analytics and develop new features simultaneously,” Dzarasov notes.
Dzarasov believes that the trait of actively looking out for feedback and adapting the product to the truckers’ desire makes the startup successful. Road Hunter does not restrict itself to the feedback of truckers and strives for input from different players in the freight space.
“We go and talk with truck stops to see what they think of our product. We also go to TMS companies to understand what kind of integration they would like to see in the future,” says Dzarasov.
Road Hunter’s eventual goal is to build a very scalable routing API which could revolutionize truck route planning. Truckers spend about $400 on GPS systems, and the startup is planning to provide such features for free and thus reduce unnecessary spending. The startup is also looking to integrate its solution with every major TMS provider in the near future.
“You can see companies that provide solutions for brokers and shippers, but not for actual drivers. The communication is still via fax, text messages, and emails,” explains Dzarasov. “We have the potential to use blockchain in the system, which makes [the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance] interesting for us. Truckers and shippers will have full control of document sharing, fuel spending, route planning, navigation, and communication - which is painful to manage now.”
Road Hunter’s growth has been organic from the beginning. “In a couple of weeks after we launched, we started getting hundreds of downloads - even without any marketing campaign,” notes Dzarasov. “It was all a word-of-mouth promotion. When the product is good, I believe the growth happens on its own.”
Road Hunter is now present in the U.S. and Canada and plans to expand to Mexico soon. In the parting words of Dzarasov, the startup wants to become the number-one app for truckers in the next two and a half years and is looking for investors experienced in the freight industry for scaling up.
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