Ryder System Inc. (NYSE:R) is using its new venture capital fund for startups in the supply chain and transportation technology space to help it understand and quickly adapt to disruptive influences.
By working with Silicon Valley incubators and accelerators such as Plug and Play Tech Center and Autotech Ventures, Ryder is getting a head start on technologies that enable e-commerce, electric and autonomous vehicles, truck sharing and data analytics, Karen Jones, Ryder’s chief marketing officer, said in virtual chat during FreightWaves’ FreightTech Venture Summit on Wednesday. RyderVentures is targeting $50 million in investments over the next five years.
“Part of the reason startup companies are really attractive to Ryder is that we have over 50,000 customers. We play in fleet management, dedicated and supply chain businesses. So we had real-world laboratory abilities to match their technology. They’re really great at technology. We’re really great at operations and having customers, so bringing those things together is really a great recipe,” Jones said.
“A lot of startups have great ideas but they have no way to prove those things out, vet them and put them into real-world applications.
“We hope to make some bets on strong companies, but equally important is understanding what’s out there and could potentially enhance our customers’ experience and what we need to be doing to really stay relevant,” she said.
Tech startups “have access to global technologies that are being developed. Ryder is a North American company. We don’t have broad reach into the rest of the world. Working with them gave us tentacles into more global technology solutions.”
Ryder has also built some of some of its own startup technology, launching in May COOP by Ryder — a truck-sharing platform that connects fleet managers with idle vehicles to businesses that are looking to rent vehicles.
It partnered with several technology startups to develop RyderShare, a real-time visibility and collaboration platform for supply chain, and has worked with other new players leading the charge in electric and autonomous vehicles, charging infrastructure and smart warehousing.
Ryder will have handled 2 million shipments through that platform by the end of the year, greatly helping with revenue generation, Jones said.