Though the freight industry in the U.S. is one of the single largest sectors in terms of revenue, it also is deeply fragmented. The dominant players in the market can afford to invest millions of dollars in revamping their organizational and functional structures, but the smaller firms are left out to dry. FleetPal, a startup from New Jersey, is looking to help smaller businesses with a comprehensive directory for truck maintenance solutions.
FleetPal is a mobile application that helps truck drivers handle their unexpected breakdowns and routine maintenance.
“The idea of FleetPal is to bring everyone together on a single platform – the truck repair vendors, truck parts vendors, fleet owners, and the drivers themselves,” says Milko Valnev, co-founder of FleetPal. “We want to ease the process of doing business. On FleetPal, drivers and fleets can find good deals for their trucks with discounts on parts, tires, and food at truck stops. Vendors can reach out to fleets and create more visibility for their services.”
A major chunk of the trucking fleet companies in the U.S. own 20 or fewer trucks, notes Valnev. Having been in the industry for a long time and having donned different roles – of a driver, fleet manager and even owning a repair shop – he understood the distressing situations faced by smaller players without a proper channel for exchanging information.
“The initial plan was to develop an application that can register all the data needed and create a directory for truck maintenance,” adds Valnev. “We would have the customer’s name, truck number, model make, and the driver’s details which we can show the vendor to facilitate faster appointments.”
To differentiate themselves from competition, FleetPal is racing against time in building a solid community of fleet owners, drivers, and vendors on their platform. The startup is in talks with Truck Fault Codes, which when integrated into FleetPal’s application would bolster their standing in the market’s truck directory space.
“They have an exhaustive database of fault codes for every truck engine manufacturer out there. Once we integrate that information, we will provide our users details on what the fault codes mean and how to fix it,” adds Valnev. “They can enter their engine’s fault code, and we can match them to a nearby repair shop that can handle the issue.”
FleetPal has recently introduced its flagship feature named the Digital Billboard, which allows vendors to send push notifications to fleets that are near their vicinity. This could greatly help the vendors to canvas their services without actually investing on physical billboards.
“We also allow fleet owners to add their companies on the app and list all the equipment they have as well,” explains Valnev. “They can assign drivers to the trucks and using our platform, can track them and send mass notifications for free.”
Even with all these features, FleetPal has found it hard to achieve traction. “The biggest challenge is convincing people to believe in the idea,” explains Valnev. “It is hard to sell when you are a startup. When you are starting out, you don’t have a lot of users on board and to get these users, you need a good directory. But partnering with companies like Truck Fault Codes could go a long way in getting us a bigger customer base.”
Apart from adding new features over successive iterations, FleetPal is simultaneously simplifying the process of registering and maintaining an account on the platform.
“We are collecting data on the number of searches being done in different categories which could help in creating insights,” says Valnev. “We see a lot of value in that because such information is valuable for vendors.”
The startup is also working on a tool which could help vendors see the traffic around their vicinity in real-time. This coupled with data insights on the type of services that drivers and fleet owners search for, could help enable vendors to adjust their business offerings according to demand.
FleetPal is currently focused on the U.S. and Canadian market and would look to scale up its operations into Europe in the future. The company is completely bootstrapped to date, and Valnev says they are open for investment if opportunities come their way.
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