Carrier platforms took off this year, as technologists took advantage of opportunities to help small to midsize trucking companies accelerate their path to digitization.
Among this group of startups is CloudTrucks, a virtual back-office platform that in December closed a Series A funding round of $20.5 million. Smart Hop, a digital platform helping small trucking companies grow their businesses, closed a $4.5 million seed round earlier this year.
Another new entrant, digital trucking platform LoadStop, offers an array of services, ranging from a carrier-focused TMS to real-time visibility tracking and an autonomous dispatcher, all aimed at enabling smarter planning of shipping and trucking routes.
“We offer a one-stop-shop logistics solution for trucking companies,” said Omer Cheema, LoadStop co-founder and chief operating officer, in an email to FreightWaves.
In a recent phone conversation, Cheema elaborated on the various functionalities his Irvine, California, startup provides.
The LoadStop TMS aims to fill a gap in the market, in which many offerings tend to be shipper-focused and/or too expensive for budget-minded smaller carriers.
Automating manual tasks, freight matching and logistics processes, the TMS provides carriers in real time with hundreds of load boards, brokers, shippers, customers, drivers, trucks, trailers, fuel providers and more.
Other solutions include compliance, maintenance and invoicing. The team’s goal is to automate 100% of these back-office tasks, according to Cheema, but so far has achieved about 80% automation for its clients as smaller trucking companies continue to incrementally adopt new technologies.
Another LoadStop offering: a patent-pending autonomous dispatch operation targeting fleet planning, scheduling and load sourcing. Aggregating data from major load boards, the tool leverages machine learning algorithms to help match fleets on its platform with their best load options.
“You now have the intelligence, in seconds,” Cheema said.
A third solution, providing end-to-end visibility, traces and tracks trucks and shipments, helping fleets manage compliance, maintenance, customers and drivers effectively.
Founded several years ago, LoadStop launched publicly just before the pandemic struck last spring, closing a $1 million pre-seed round six months ago led by Worldwide Capital, with participation from SV Ventures.
The idea for the company, Cheema explained, originated in the experience of one of the team members whose family had a trucking company and suffered from the lack of a carrier-focused TMS.
Interestingly, as more small-carrier-focused platforms emerge, they are catching the eye of larger trucking companies that see value in products that are slowly unifying the highly fragmented trucking sector.
According to Cheema, LoadStop recently integrated two large carriers: Cargo Solutions Express, a California carrier with around 2,000 trucks and trailers. Another partner is Gillson Trucking, with 500 trucks and trailers.
New integrations, seemingly announced weekly, make these carrier platforms available to larger enterprises. SmartHop, for example, recently announced a partnership with digital freight brokerage Loadsmart, giving the latter access to drivers using the SmartHop platform.