When Trucker Path, a San Jose startup, launched a very popular app at truck stops that helped drivers find the resources and information they need — including showers, parking, fuel prices — it caught on quickly.
"This app changed my life," wrote Jeremiah Dean in a Google Play store review. "It’s truly a beautiful thing." Dozens of truck drivers have written on the Trucker Path Facebook page to say that they love the app, and consider it a must-have on the job.
But truck-stop maps and weigh-station closing times were just the beginning for Trucker Path. Today, the company is launching a public beta of Truckloads, a shipping marketplace that will rely on its network of 300,000 accounts to match independent truckers with loads that need to get from point A to point B.
Trucker Path, which is focused on independent big rig drivers who work for themselves or smaller companies, will make this network available to shipping brokers throughout the commercial freight industry. In addition, the company has raised a $20 million funding round led by Chicago’s Wicklow Capital and China’s Renren.
"When I started the company, I realized that it’s kind of hard to start building a marketplace right away,
because there was a strong chicken and egg problem," Trucker Path founder Ivan Tsybaev told BuzzFeed News. So in order to build up a user base, he came up with the idea to crowdsource parking information, which can be a real headache for sleepy truckers.
As the app grew in popularity — it has nearly 30,000 likes on Facebook and sees 20 percent growth month-over-month — Tsybaev slowly started rolling out the freight marketplace on an invitation-only basis.
Freight shipping as an industry is plagued with inefficiencies and middlemen, according to Tsybaev. The idea behind Truckloads is to connect individual and small-time drivers with people who need goods shipped, and reduce the number of firms skimming commissions along the way. (Other than his, that is.)
The Truckloads interface is a bit less intuitive than an app like Uber, because freight shipping is inherently a little bit more complicated, said Tsybaev. Truckers typically need to sit through a tutorial video at the very least before they get started. So far, pre-public launch, Truckloads has hauled 30,000 shipments Tsybaev says.
For more of the Buzzfeed story: www.buzzfeed.com