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Before AI ultimately kills the trucking industry, it might be able to help it
A startup hopes to use artificial intelligence to create the digital back-end for the United States’ logistics backbone: the trucking industry.
Florida-based SmartHop, which helps small trucking companies operate more efficiently, has raised $4.5 million in seed investment.
The company is developing a platform for end-to-end back-office support and load booking, connecting truckers with what it claims will become the largest country-wide network of reliable carriers offering above-market rates per mile (RPM).
Akin to popular ride-hailing apps, job suggestions and pricing will be based on location, date, hours of service, and preferred trip type. This will be handled by a machine learning-based system that matches load types and carrier schedules. Following a trip, the platform will provide “detailed” performance reports, and suggest improvements.
SmartHop’s platform is designed for 53-foot semi-trailer and refrigerated trailer operators, and makes money through a three percent commission, rather than an upfront fee.
The company plans to target smaller trucking firms; more than 90 percent of the industry’s business is thought to be handled by outfits with six or fewer vehicles. SmartHop claims that regulations designed for trucking giants, and insurance company rules, disadvantage the smaller players – impacting buying power, and increasing paperwork.
“We created SmartHop to service a majority of the freight industry that has lacked the tools to grow their businesses efficiently,” Guillermo Garcia, SmartHop CEO and co-founder, said.
Garcia previously worked for Nestle Venezuela’s supply chain business, and founded a logistics company called ALCARIN.
“We’re excited to work with our investors and industry veterans to streamline success for small carriers and owner-operators so they can take control of their business and feel the freedom of being an independent trucker again,” he added.
The investment round was led by Equal Ventures, with other backers including Greycroft and Las Olas VC.
“Guillermo has assembled the technology and team to reshape the trucking industry and empower thousands of truckers to operate with a new sophistication,” Will Szczerbiak, principal at Greycroft, said.