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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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BusinessFinanceLast MileLast-mile deliveryModern ShipperNewsRecent NewsStartupsTrucking

App-based platform for booking smaller trucks gets $63M VC investment

App-based platform for booking smaller trucks gets $63M VC investment

The investors putting $63 million into Fluid Truck include Bison Capital and the VC arm of Ikea’s owner.

A technology startup with an app-based platform that matches fleets of smaller commercial vehicles with companies that need that capacity has pulled in its largest-ever investment. 

Fluid Truck, which is based in Denver, said it had obtained $63 million in Series A funding. 

“Previous rounds were small, millions of dollars,” said James Eberhard, the company’s founder and CEO. “This is by far the biggest one.”  

Eberhardt would not disclose Fluid Truck’s valuation after the investment. 

The investment round was led by private equity company Bison Capital. Other investors in the Series A round were Ingka Investments, which is part of the parent company of furniture retailer Ikea, Sumitomo Corp. of America and a group of owners of the vehicles that Fluid Truck leases.  

Bison Capital, on its website, describes itself as investing in “leading middle-market businesses.” Its portfolio lists one other company that might be considered FreightTech, Performance Team Freight Systems, which describes itself as a provider of third-party logistics to retailers and their vendors.

Fluid Truck is an app-based platform that connects pools of commercial vehicles like box trucks and delivery vans with businesses that need that capacity. It recently has added nine markets to its offerings and it is now in 25 markets. Eberhard said the company plans to be in 50 markets by the end of the year. 

Eberhard said Fluid Truck is “really focused” on the last mile and mid-mile. “We take the complexities of fleet management access and make it super simple,” he said in an interview with FreightWaves.

One thing that Fluid does not do is connect owners of tractors and vans for 18-wheelers with companies that need that capacity. Eberhard said there are no plans to expand into that area. 

The vehicles that are leased through the Fluid Truck app tend to be large pools stored in business parks or rental centers. The customers for the services are small to midsize businesses, Eberhard added. 

Fluid Truck takes 20% of the value of transactions booked through the app, Eberhard said. It does not own any vehicles.

Eberhard said the owners of the vehicles that are available through the Fluid Truck app might have 10 vehicles but could also have 100. While some providers of the trucking capacity available on the app might put some of that availability onto the app for a short period of time, most of the capacity is coming from suppliers that have vehicles available to be leased 100% of the time, he said. 

He described those companies as “independent vehicle investor groups.” Most of those vehicles are purchased specifically to be leased out through the platform, according to Eberhard.

“We have a ton of cargo vans serving a lot of last-mile customers,” Eberhard said about his company’s customer base. “But we also have 26-foot box trucks serving the last mile and we also have pickup trucks.” 

Fluid Truck also has electric vehicles available in the pool. Krister Mattsson, managing director of Ingka Investments, said that was a factor in the Ikea affiliate taking a stake. “Fluid Truck has an increasingly electrified delivery fleet across the U.S. so this is another step in enabling Ikea Retail to provide last-mile delivery services to our customers, continue to improve on our customer promise, while also reducing our environmental footprint,” he said in the prepared statement announcing the investment. 

The target audience is any business that prefers to not tie up capital in the management of a fleet, or companies that do own a fleet that need in the short term “to scale up with a lot of vehicles for when they need them.”

Some of the time duration that Fluid Truck users might secure capacity for an amount that can  be measured in hours, he added. And while there might be individual private users of the app, the vast majority are businesses. 

The current pool of vehicles available on the Fluid Truck app is more than 5,000, according to Eberhard. 

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

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