ISO, a new business from the founders of Uber Freight, aims to help shippers manage vendor compliance and on-time performance metrics.
Brian Cristol and Charlie Bergevin have come a long way since 2015, when they didn’t know what LTL (less-than-truckload) meant and hung out at a truck stop to learn what the pain points were for drivers and shippers.
From that fact-finding mission, the pair co-founded Uber Freight, the digital brokerage giant housed at parent company Uber (NYSE: UBER).
Five years later, the entrepreneurs are back with another startup that aims to digitize trucking and logistics, this time with a focus on the service issues that plague shippers as they move goods from point A to point B.
Retailers today hold shippers to increasingly strict performance standards, said Cristol, CEO and co-founder of ISO, a business that came out of stealth on Tuesday. Bergevin and John Stauffer, another Uber Freight co-founder, are ISO’s two other founders.
Walmart (NYSE: WMT) might require on-time performance down to the minute, Cristol explained, whereas Costco’s (NASDAQ: COST) protocol could be to the hour and Kroger (NYSE: KR) to the day.
“So it’s very different how they’re being held accountable for the service,” he said.
Further complicating the situation is that while performance metrics are handled by shippers’ customer service staff, transportation employees in another part of the company are working with their carrier and broker networks to move the products to stores.
“As it stands today,” said Cristol, “you have two different teams working on two different data sets.”
Collaborating on performance
ISO (the name refers to isometrics) closes the gap by connecting all parties on a single cloud-based platform and aggregating the data sets around service, bringing real-time visibility to the process.
The collaborative software helps shippers take a proactive approach, helping optimize supply chains while illuminating where things went wrong based on the retailer’s performance metrics.
“We make it very easy for shippers to figure out: ‘Was it actually the trucker’s fault? Was it our own warehouse? Or was it in fact Walmart’s fault?’” Cristol said.
As it stands, he asserted, continued reliance on a manual approach limits shippers’ ability to track down answers to these questions. Generally speaking communication is handled by email or phone and often involves spreadsheets with different data, “creating friction” between the different parties.
By digitizing existing workflows, ISO’s software allows “both sides to collaborate on the same data set, and by doing so they reach a shared source of truth,” Cristol said.
ISO in March raised $3 million in seed funding led by Kindred Ventures and L37 Ventures, an affiliate of Wildcat Venture Partners. The company worked with several large consumer packaged goods customers to build the software, according to Cristol, and will be taking on new customers in the fourth quarter.
A second wave, digitizing freight
No strangers to carving out new business models, Cristol and Bergevin were the first two sales hires at Uber, and their first project was building out Uber Eats in addition to Uber’s final-mile businesses.
There they were exposed to issues that went beyond mobility to touch on complex delivery and supply chain challenges. Uber Freight grew out of that experience, said Cristol, who along with Bergevin left the digital brokerage in early 2019 to work at Turvo, a real-time logistics platform, before founding ISO — in the middle of a pandemic.
COVID-19-related remote working environments have intensified demand for collaborative software tools, Cristol said, while surging e-commerce demand is putting more pressure on shippers to meet retailers’ high performance standards.
Starting this month, for example, Walmart is requiring its suppliers and their carriers to deliver all orders as the retailer required and by their “must-arrive-by” dates 98% of the time or be fined 3% of the cost of the goods.
“For us there couldn’t be a better time for us to bring a solution to market,” Cristol said.
Reflecting on what appears to be a second wave of supply chain tech startups started by Uber Freight alums, Cristol said listening to customers’ needs prompted the ISO team to go beyond brokerage to tackle other workflow problems.
The solutions aren’t quick fixes, he emphasized. “They take time, a lot of good engineering. Fully automating the entire supply chain can’t be done overnight.”