Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Riding a wave of innovations, the digital freight services startup ranked No. 3 on the FreightTech 25 list of most disruptive companies.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’

Linda Baker, Staff Writer: FreightWaves

Riding a wave of recent innovations, digital freight network powerhouse Convoy moved up a notch on this year’s FreightTech 25, edging out Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) to occupy the No. 3 slot on FreightWaves’ list of most disruptive companies.

Ziad Ismail, the company’s chief product officer, said 2019 has been an especially fruitful year for Convoy, which netted $400 million in a Series D round announced Nov. 13.

“Over the past year in particular, we’ve really accelerated both the rates and impact of the innovation,” he said. “There have been multiple big breakthroughs we’ve been working on for several years.”

Ismail credited the Seattle-based company’s innovation model, rooted in small teams that  operate autonomously, with enabling Convoy to crack some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

He cited as an example its Automated Reloads product, a feature that corrects what Ismail described as the “terrible problem” of empty miles, in which trucks drive with empty trailers.

Launched in June, Automatic Reloads prepackages a collection of loads that take into consideration criteria such as the carriers’ lane preferences, driver hours of service availability and facility wait times.

The platform reduces empty miles by 45% for many drivers, according to Ismail. “That’s something we worked on for multiple years to get right,” he said.

In February, Convoy solved another problem it had been working on for several years: automatically matching 95% of loads with no human intervention.

Convoy Go, also unveiled in 2019, scaled up a two-year-old pilot project. The program utilizes a Convoy trailer pool and allows owner-operators and small fleets to take advantage of power-only loads, maximizing truckers’ driving time and leading to more loads and higher revenue.

Coming in 2020

Asked about the next round of innovations, Ismail hinted at even bigger breakthroughs to be rolled out in the next three to six months.

Declining to reveal specifics, he said the new products will push further on empty miles and reducing waiting time for drivers.

“The problem space is going to be quite consistent for us: driving down waste in the industry. That is our North Star. That is what we measure all our innovation against.”

Solving the waste conundrum addresses the trucking industry’s huge environmental challenges, Ismail said, while also yielding an attractive business model.

Companies named to the 2020 FreightTech 25 were judged by an external panel of industry experts, with voting conducted and overseen by accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

Each member of the panel ranked their top 25 companies on a 1- to 25-point basis. The companies generating the most points make up the FreightTech 25.

Convoy closes out year of ‘multiple breakthroughs’