Finding capacity

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by Emily Atkins

Mathieu van Gent believes he is building a better mousetrap. In the freight brokerage space, where many have stepped up to offer websites and services to connect loads and trucks, van Gent earlier this year launched Truxweb, a platform aimed at small and medium businesses.

The Quebec-based company aims to assist shippers that move more than 50 full truckloads a year to find carriers when they need them, and at the best price. Since the launch in March 2022, van Gent says uptake has been incredible, and revenues are surpassing $100,000 a month. And that’s through a non-subscription model.

van Gent is careful to differentiate what Truxweb is doing from big players like Convoy or Loadsmart. He says it’s the automation. “We only require maybe one account manager for every 200 or 300 clients to be able to support any exceptions to the 95 percent that goes right.”

With background in a family freight business, van Gent had plenty of exposure to the challenges shippers face in finding carriers, as well as the costs of using a freight broker. He was working on a Master’s degree at Concordia University and came across a course on building new ventures. He decided to create a business that would cut the middleman out of the shipper-carrier relationship, and. He pitched the idea in 2020, and in 2021, collaborating with a team of software developers, he built the platform. With funding aboard, Truxweb was born and ready to launch this year.

How it works

A shipper looking for capacity goes on the platform and inputs the parameters of the load. Then the shipper can select one or multiple carriers, and sends a confirmation request for the availability. The carrier has an hour to confirm. The shipper then choses which carrier they want, depending on factors such as if the carrier accepted it exactly as it was sent, if they modified the date or the price, or if they rejected it, van Gent explained.

So far Truxweb has about 100 shippers and 300 carriers on board, covering more than 3,000 lanes. van Gent said he’s had shippers leave their broker to join, because they not only get the load for less, but the process is far quicker. What used to take two hours, “including all the documentation and the wrap up can actually be done now in 12 minutes,” he said.

Where a traditional broker charges 15 to 20 percent, Truxweb costs in the four to nine percent range, van Gent said. And, there’s no subscription cost.

“Shippers and carriers, without any investment of even a penny can go onto the platform, start to use it immediately,” he added.

Truxweb offers other bells and whistles, like integration with Marsh for cargo insurance, real-time document sharing, automatically populated bills of lading, and a direct messaging app so carriers and shippers don’t have to make calls to clarify questions.

“People are very resistant to change. We had to adapt our process to what carriers and shippers value,” van Gent said. “Both are email heavy. They don’t necessarily like to pick up like the phone and they want to pay in 30 days. Perfect. We’re doing that, and we’re making everything automated so we can make this entire process quicker. So everybody wins.”

Happy customers

Customers seem impressed. Carrier AI Express has worked with van Gent’s company for more than a year. Logistics director Nicholas Duncan said communications between his team and shippers is easy through the platform, and “the fact that Truxweb has qualified it its client group and guarantees to pay us on Net 30 terms is a positive. It eliminates one of our major stressors with new clients.”

On the shipper side, Quebec-based wood products manufacturer Barette said Truxweb has made it possible to find capacity with reliable carriers, allowing it to meet obligations in the US.

“Our sales volumes fluctuate seasonally and at the height of our busiest period, when carrier capacity was hard to find, Truxweb’s solution was very helpful,” said Michel Fortin, the company’s transportation manager.

Refinements

van Gent is working on attracting new shippers to the platform, and says adding to its functionality is helping in the process. “We’re building an artificial intelligence pricing calculator to help carriers become more competitive and more aware when they provide prices on the market,” he said. “We can use about eight different components, including four which are derived directly from our platform – data analytics – in order to give that kind of feedback.”

As the company grows it’s looking for capital, but van Gent says they are not aiming to be acquired. “We don’t want to be snapped up; the goal is for us to create value. And when we create value, who knows what can happen? Right now, we want to help shippers, and we see that it’s helping. So that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”