One20’s driver-centric approach improving life on the road

LIfe on the road can be difficult for truck drivers. Time away from family, traffic congestion and delays, and expensive, unhealthy food are just a few of the issues drivers face on a daily basis. 

LIfe on the road can be difficult for truck drivers. Time away from family, traffic congestion and delays, and expensive, unhealthy food are just a few of the issues drivers face on a daily basis. 

Focus is on creating products and solutions designed with the driver in mind

With driver wages and benefits now accounting for 31% of operational costs per mile for carriers, according to research from the American Transportation Research Institute, trucking fleets are continuing to increase their focus on improving drivers’ lives, both on the road and off.

Pay increases, benefit packages and more engagement are among the efforts many fleets have undertaken, with a mixed bag of success so far. Unlike many companies that focus their development efforts on helping fleets improve those efforts, there is one company that is focused on developing products and solutions to help the drivers.

One20, founded by software expert Christian Schenk and launched early in 2016, has grown quickly from a platform designed to give drivers a place to vent to a company that is crafting tools to help drivers better manage their lives – from improved navigation on the road, to better health off it.

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Before launching the company “Christian had interviews with about 20 drivers and just asked them what was working in the industry and what wasn’t,” Ryan Barnett, senior vice president of growth and development, explains. “And one driver, Jeff was his name, said, ‘I’m just waiting for somebody to do something for us instead of to us.’”

And so was born One20, a business focused on driver empowerment and community building.

“We always see someone selling to a fleet and the [fleets] are much more concerned about balance sheets,” Barnett notes.

The initial One20 product was TruckThat, a social community for drivers. It launched in early 2015 with just a few followers.

“TruckThat is a place for truckers to [complain] about what sucks in trucking,” Barnett says. “We didn’t realize that it would go to over 100,000 followers in one year.”

Beyond just a place to complain, though, the platform serves to connect truckers, providing a place to exchange information or generally just connect with other driving professionals to help find good places to eat, safe parking, and rate places frequented by truckers.

From that initial success, One20 has quickly grown into an “app-enabled trucker community” designed to improve nearly everything about the truck driving experience.

“It’s really expensive to be on the road,” Barnett points out. “Something that [a fast-food restaurant] will charge $6 for in one of their stores, is $12 at a truck stop.”

The One20 community has now grown to over 250,000 truckers and has allowed the company to collect a lot of data on drivers and their habits. That data has been used to create the initial Top One20 report, released this week.

Top One20, which will be released quarterly, highlights ratings and reviews for points of interest, such as travel centers and restaurants, as well as amenity-level reviews like restroom cleanliness, parking availability and staff friendliness and knowledge.  The reports will also compile driver demographics/profiles and identify daily spending and purchasing habits in areas such as technology and leisure.

The report uses over 300,000 data points compiled from surveys and One20 apps to really discover what life is like on the road.

It’s really expensive to be on the road. Something that [a fast-food restaurant] will charge $6 for in one of their stores, is $12 at a truck stop.
— Ryan Barnett, senior vice president of growth and development

Membership in the One20 community is free and comes with a number of perks. These include a free mobile app, My One20, that provides truck-specific navigation, as well as special deals specifically for truckers.

“Right now there is a deal for Naked Juice where I think it is $1.50 off a $3 bottle of juice,” Barnett notes as an example. “It’s a small deal, but it gives a trucker a healthier alternative” at a better price.

A focus on driver health has led to the creation of another One20 entity – One20 Strong. Originally focused on designing workouts that truckers could do in and around the truck, the company has morphed in nutrition as well, including a One20 branded drink.

To truly understand the life of the trucker, the company has also created its own trucking company, One20 LLC. While it has only 1 truck hauling pipeline loads, the first-hand experiences it provides helps the company better understand the needs and lifestyle of drivers.

“I’ve done ride-alongs just to see what the driver goes through, how they structure their day, how they sleep,” Barnett says. “It’s really hard to start a trucking company, but if we’re going to build anything, it’s going to for our drivers first. For us, it’s a learning opportunity.”

Later this year, to help truckers comply with the upcoming electronic logging device mandate that requires such devices as of Dec. 17, 2017, to monitor driving hours, One20 will offer a $169 ELD option. Unlike many systems, Barnett explains, the F-ELD option features no subscription fees. The solution is available to individual drivers (a fleet version will be available for $5 per driver). It requires an Android or Apple device – either phone or tablet – provided by the driver along with Bluetooth and a data plan. 

For those that need a tablet, One20 also sells one of those. The F-ELD will be available in July.

“It’s hard to believe [One20] is so much more than a software company, but as we build all these touchpoints, we’re [finding opportunities to improve drivers’ lives],” Barnett adds. “We want to become the most visible brand in trucking, which is amazing since a year ago we didn’t have a product.”