The “Uberization” of the U.S. trucking industry is underway, as startups are coming up left and right in an attempt to grab a piece of the transport sector’s estimated $700 billion market. Transfix is one such example, and is considered to be a leader in this department.
Transfix is a two-year-old, New York-based company co-founded by CEO Drew McElroy and CTO Jonathan Salama. The business provides technologies and brokerage services for independent over-the-road vehicle operators and small carriers. To date, it’s amassed no less than $14.5 million in funds and has “north of 6,000 drivers on platform,” McElroy told TRUCKS.com.
What’s more, in an August 2015 study regarding the North American mobile-based freight brokerage market, Frost & Sullivan said the “Uber for trucks” model is set to revolutionize freight mobility, and that Transfix is one of four emerging companies that will make this happen. To be clear, the model we are discussing seeks to replace third-party brokers with a mobile app, directly connecting shippers with carriers to help ensure that drivers are not hauling half-empty loads around town.
With that in mind, McElroy doesn’t think “Uber for truckers” is a great description for Transfix, since it “doesn’t tell the whole story.” The company does touch base with the general concept of it all, and its app does pave the way for greater transparency, automation, and efficiency (and, dare we say, affordability?) between the two parties. But McElroy says the main distinction between Transfix and companies like Cargomatic is the type of service they provide, which is primarily focused on medium- and long-haul truckloads. Its specialty, as described by the New York Business Journal, is “full truckload shipping.”
Although there is some overlap in the customer base, Cargomatic is not considered a direct competitor to Transfix, as it specifically focuses on local trucking companies. A closer rival would be Trucker Path, which has garnered a whopping $20 million in funds and mostly targets independent vehicle operators, with a preference for regional, long-haul big rigs. Furthermore, the New York Business Journal says that Transfix seeks to compete with big-name brands like C.H. Robinson and UPS.
The Pros & Cons
The fact that the web-based application is free for drivers and the process of shipment is automated through the app are just some of the pros associated with Transfix’s technology. Other perks include information regarding the lowest cost of diesel on a given trip, truck-friendly parking, quick payment (24-48 hours), and the company’s ability to “pay our drivers a small premium,” says McElroy.
Shippers also get a pretty good deal: Instead of being charged 15-18 percent (a classic broker fee, according to the CEO), Transfix will charge 7 percent for the same shipment.
So far, reviews suggest that the only downside to using the app are minor bugs. However, the company has since released an updated version of the application, which has likely addressed most technology-related issues.