Funding boosts KeepTruckin beyond ELDs

 Keep Truckin started with a smartphone-based ELD solution, but it is evolving into a complete fleet management provider.

Keep Truckin started with a smartphone-based ELD solution, but it is evolving into a complete fleet management provider.

With latest round of funding, KeepTruckin aims to establish itself as next generation of fleet management

The ELD mandate is set to take effect December 18, 2017, and investors are betting on San Francisco-based startup KeepTruckin to lead the way in electronic logging and the digitization of fleet management. The telematics company recently announced it has raised $18 million in its latest round of funding, pushing its total funding to $28 million.

Founded in 2013, KeepTruckin first set out to make it easier for drivers to legally log their hours. The startup has since expanded from its free, smartphone-based electronic logbook application to creating a hardware telematics platform. Shoaib Makani, KeepTruckin chief executive and co-founder, says while electronic logs were the company’s entry point, it is quickly becoming a comprehensive fleet management and electronic logging platform for the trucking industry.

“The ELD mandate is what’s forcing the adoption of ELDs, and the ELDs then give us access to data,” says Makani. “Obviously there’s utility to be delivered just to the fleets themselves - we let them track their vehicles, their drivers’ performance, all that stuff - but then the extension of that is the utilization improvements and the efficiency gains in the industry that are made possible.”

Through collecting and monitoring data such as vehicle diagnostics and utilization, driver performance monitoring, IFTA reporting, and geofencing, KeepTruckin is working to connect vehicles, drivers and fleet managers by bringing them online.

“We started with electronic logging, and we sort of established ourselves as a leader in smartphone-based electronic logs. But we’re extending into other functionality now that leverages that device that connects with the engine to collect data and make that data usable to the fleet manager,” says Makani. “The change of connectivity, the bringing of these guys online, allows for this more efficient transaction to take place.”

Collecting this data and making it available allows KeepTruckin users to continuously track vehicles, see how they’re operating and whether they’re loaded or unloaded, and view a driver’s location and availability. It leads to a more efficient freight marketplace.

“The ELD connects to the vehicle, so you get all of the vehicle data, and now it’s coming online, rather than disappearing into the ether, it’s not on a piece of paper somewhere, it’s continuously being tracked,” says Makani. “So you connected the vehicle, the driver and the guy in the office. And when that happens, it’s going to allow for significant gains. You’re going to have the ability to transact that freight, being able to send loads to those carriers in a really intelligent manner versus blindly calling like most brokers do, so there’s a lot of gains to be had once these guys are connected.”

Which also happens to be KeepTruckin’s mission statement: Connect America’s Truckers.  

“It starts with utilization,” says Makani. “So today there’s lots of trucks that drive empty. And in an ideal world, you’d always know where each vehicle was and whether it was loaded or not, and if that driver had time to drive. If you have all those [data points], continuously, for every single truck on the road, then you can improve the utilization.”

More than 100,000 drivers working for 20,000 unique motor carriers use KeepTruckin’s free logbook app every day to log their hours, says Makani. Through the app, which is similar to a paper log on a phone, drivers are able to edit logs, receive violations alerts, and electronically transmit their logs. For those who want to upgrade to the ELD hardware, KeepTruckin leases the device for a monthly subscription fee for the life of the subscription and will replace it should it go bad.

Makani says this subscription model for smartphone-based solutions is the future of the market, and combined with KeepTruckin’s focus on customer service, is the reason drivers are more likely to choose its services over others in the industry. And according to Makani, there is still plenty of room for growth in an increasingly crowded market.

“The reality is there’s 2 million vehicles that don’t have an ELD today that are going to have to have one by the end of the year,” he says. “We’re going to try to catch as much of that as possible.”

KeepTruckin’s latest round of fundraising will help do just that. Makani says the company will use the funds to invest in engineering (the company designs and manufactures its own telematics hardware device), operations, customer support, and sales.

“We set out to build an electronic logging device that was modern, capable, extensible, and would let us do a whole lot more for the fleet managers beyond just compliance. But at the core was compliance and the upcoming mandate,” says Makani. “We are essentially establishing ourselves as the next generation, fleet management, electronic logging platform for the trucking industry.”