Freight matching startup targets same day delivery

Aaron Peck and his team had specific criteria in mind as they debated new names for their local freight matching service.

“We wanted something that had strength in it, where there is nothing more powerful for you to put your freight,” said Peck, formerly of Skurt, a rental car delivery app that sold to Fair, an auto financing company, in 2018.

The winning choice – Mothership – refers to a “massive vehicle that dispatches smaller vehicles out of it,” Peck said. “It’s polarizing in a way. Love it or hate it, but you will not forget it.”

Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Mothership (formerly known as Bolt) uses historical driver data and machine learning to “intelligently dispatch” trucks carrying first- and last-mile, business-to-business palletized freight.

More specifically, the company’s technology automatically connects shippers to the nearest drivers. It also “freight pools” loads, adding new shipments that match the driver’s route, so drivers are continuously picking up and dropping off loads.

These solutions meet the challenges of an “Amazoned” world, said Peck, the company’s co-founder and CEO, where next day delivery pressures “are forcing everyone to try and keep up, but they lack the means to get stuff there quickly.”

By maximizing capacity and getting as much out of each driver mile as possible, Mothership speeds up the delivery process, transforming “what typically is a next day service at best into a service that is overwhelmingly same day and at no extra charge.”

The process is entirely paperless, and drivers, whom Peck said earn an average of $80 per hour, get paid on the same day they deliver the load.

A venture-backed startup, Mothership has completed an investor round, but Peck declined to disclose the amount or the participating investors. The company’s productivity gains, he said, help drive the scalable business model.

“Our technology generates efficiencies upwards of 40 percent,” he explained, enough to give Mothership its margin – and more.

“If you’re a marketplace like us, you have to ask: ‘Do we have to be greedy and take an insane margin?’” Peck asked. “No, you don’t. You say: At scale we’ll be a company worth $100 billion, and what you do with the leftover efficiency is you pass on savings to the customer and pay more to the driver.”

Mothership is hardly the only venture moving into the fast-growing final-mile freight market. The space is attracting a slew of startups, along with established brokers and less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload carriers.

Peck is unconcerned about the competition. He said brokers often get customers into full truckload or LTL contracts, with local deliveries as an afterthought.

“We believe [those contracts] are a thing of the past,” he said. “We are always going to be so much better than anybody else. That is our contract.”

The company has grown 500 percent year-over-year. Its primary customer base consists of legacy businesses that use Mothership to move tile, flooring, furniture, plastics, metals and more. Startups like Bird also use the service.

In addition to its core market in greater Los Angeles, the startup also serves San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego and is operating in beta mode in New York and New Jersey.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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