This Startup Is Radicalizing the Trucking Industry By Making It Greener
Most people outside the trucking industry probably assume shipping cargo by truck works something like this:
A manufacturer has goods to send across the country. They fill a big-rig with those goods. The big-rig delivers those goods. The end.
The reality is much more complex. What if that manufacturer doesn’t have enough goods to fill that truck? What if that truck can’t find any other goods to fill its space?
Welcome to the world of freight logistics, where keeping operations profitable means filling trucks to capacity and filling trucks to capacity is often a challenge.
Here’s why it’s a problem. Around 90% of all operators have fleets of less than seven trucks. Small operations have less sophisticated systems, which leads to trucks often running with available space that, somewhere, a shipper is eager to fill.
According to estimates, under-filled trucks cost the industry a whopping US$40 billion every year.
Guillermo Garcia, Joaquin Brillembourg, and Miguel Sucre are working to slash those losses. Their company, SmartHop, has developed an AI-powered dispatcher that analyzes and compares thousands of loads in minutes to help carriers plan and book loads that reduce vacant capacities and increase revenue. It’s like a “a futuristic version of Kayak or Expedia for truckers,” Guillermo says.
The idea for SmartHop came from Guillermo’s own struggles searching and booking loads for his nationwide over-the-road trucking operations company. “I understood the struggle independent small carriers go through to make a living. They don’t have the right set of tools to succeed; it’s all done too manually,” says Guillermo.
Besides lost revenues, the other consequence of poorly planned freight capacity is environmental. “Truckers will search manually throughout thousands of brokers, sites, and apps, so it is practically impossible for them to make good decisions,” Guillermo explains. “At the end, their struggle transforms into [wasted space] causing huge environmental damage.”
That angle helped SmartHop land a spot in the inaugural cohort of 100+ Accelerator — a sustainability accelerator by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline BETA. 100+ is helping startups accelerate a path to a commercial deal with AB InBev, while providing the international beverage company with leading-edge solutions to help meet its 2025 sustainability goals.
For AB InBev, SmartHop represents an opportunity to shed its company-owned fleet of trucks. Manufacturers don’t always have full loads for their own trucks, leading to wasted space, wasted revenues, and wasted carbon-producing mileage.
By helping AB InBev outsource its loads to independent truckers and small-scale fleet operators looking for freight, SmartHop reduces “the empty miles AB InBev loads run today because of not being able to haul for others,” Guillermo says.
“Incredible” is how he describes the 100+ Accelerator experience. He says the mentorship has been amazing and the opportunity to engage in a pilot with AB InBev has already helped SmartHop attract attention from other large enterprises.
The other perk: sharing insights, goals, and ideas with other sustainability-focused startups.
“Everyone [has] the big dream of impacting the world in a way that the environment and everyone that lives in it is better off — because of our solutions.”