In the trucking industry, there is a persistent issue of fuel theft and mismanagement which often goes unnoticed. This is usually since the problem, albeit relevant, was something that companies couldn’t easily keep track of. And since it wasn’t eating into their budget, they couldn’t make time to realize a solution to the predicament. But now, a Chicago-based startup named Fueloyal is looking to tackle the problem through smart technology solutions.
George Jurica Magoci, the founder of Fueloyal was running a successful transportation SaaS company before he started working on this idea. During the time he spent in his previous company, he had customers complaining about the problems of fuel being lost to pilfering. “A lot of them had a big issue with fuel theft and company fuel card abuse,” explains Magoci. “Unfortunately, 18-wheel truck drivers would sometimes misuse the company fuel card to buy fuel for someone else’s truck or to get cash back for their pocket money.”
The idea of Fueloyal was born then, which Magoci established soon after he sold off his previous company. Fueloyal is a fuel management company that works with fleet companies on a global level with the purpose of optimizing fuel purchases and preventing fuel theft and fuel card misuse.
“Before Fueloyal, it was hard to spot the problem. Eighteen-wheeler truckers spend over $5,000 a month on fuel and siphoning about $300 on the fuel expenses would be barely noticeable,” says Magoci. “So, we started working on our first product, which was a smart fuel cap that could monitor the fuel being loaded on the truck.”
The Fueloyal team spent 18 months in testing and development of their now-patented smart fuel cap, and when they hit the market last summer, it immediately sold out. Buoyed by the success of the first version, the team started working on successive versions, and at present are in a situation where they are fighting to keep up with the demand - a reasonably good position to be in.
Magoci considers the team’s experience in building fleet management and trucking industry solutions to be their competitive advantage compared to the rest of the startups in the domain now. “Though the market is huge, a lot of startups will fail if they are without the industry experience and knowledge. The freight industry is one of those places which is full of invisible connections and people who are used to doing business in certain ways,” explains Magoci. “Besides having competitive technology and an amazing sales & marketing team, we also believe we have gotten our product right.”
With the fuel management product, Fueloyal has effectively opened up a new vertical in the freight industry. “There is no similar or existing product on the market like ours,” adds Magoci. “The fuel tank was the only untouched spot on the truck, and we made it smart with our fuel cap. We are now adding some more amazing and unique market software possibilities on top of that as well.”
The fuel cap comes with a lot of features - it takes just about five seconds to install, can fit on any truck and can measure the amount of fuel added to the tank. It also comes enabled with a 3G modem combined with a GPS facility and has a utility dashboard and fuel optimization features to boot.
When Fueloyal started out, the TechStars accelerator program in New York gave the company a fresh perspective on business, feels Magoci. “We started out with market validation for the idea, going around and testing the waters - looking to see who was willing to make an order. After getting over 2,000 pre-orders, we realized its potential and the business sustainability. So, we immediately started building the product.”
Successive iterations of the product have made Fueloyal’s smart cap more sophisticated, with its installation time being reduced from 30 seconds to 5 seconds. “But even after making it so simple, people still find it complicated to install,” notes Magoci. “We used to drive to the customer and spend half a day in a mechanic shop, demonstrating and installing it for them. It sometimes is interesting to meet our customers and get direct feedback from them.”
Magoci feels that the biggest hurdle to increasing traction is getting to meet decision makers. “The trucking industry is riddled with problems, and it is not easy to meet with a decision maker, who is usually a fleet manager or a trucking company owner,” says Magoci. “There are a lot of unexpected events happening in the industry, and it isn’t easy to plan. There always is a big struggle in setting up a meeting and successfully getting the decision maker to attend it.”
Nonetheless, Fueloyal is optimistic about its chances in the industry. The startup is looking to launch its 2.0 product in a couple of months and is completely focused on scaling and shortening the sales cycles right now.
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