Uber for the truckies: How one Aussie startup is disrupting the freight industry
- 23 June, 2017 08:49
Labelled as the great ‘Dubbo disruptor’, online platform, Channel 40, is Australia’s first-ever app connecting drivers and freight owners in an Uber-like system. And its impact has already been felt across the heavyweight trucking industry.
Dubbo-based founder, Tom Cavanagh, a diesel fitter by trade and owner of mining services provider, EMS Group, said he established Channel 40 after realising there was a pressing need for a more streamlined booking system for freight owners to book trucks to carry large-scale machinery, supplies and mining resources long-haul.
“I was sick of how hard it was for my own business to organise freight loads,” Cavanagh said. “It requires a lot of logistics, with trucks moving daily large distances from Dubbo to Cairns, from Perth to Sydney and Adelaide to Victoria. And it was always so difficult to try and find the right truck driver, for the specific work you need at the right time, which is often urgent.”
An industry in desperate need for disruption
According to Cavanagh, before the online platform, business owners and truck owners were spending a lot of time just ringing around trying to organise and secure each booking.
“The old way to secure a job was via a billboard-type website that businesses like me would use to post a load request, and then hundreds of truck drivers would call me to try and secure the booking,” he explained. “Business owners like me were usually constantly receiving phone calls a day from truckies desperate for work, and you’d be constantly having the same conversation over and over again to try and lock in a load.
“There were also a lot of issues with the platform. Many users hated it and ultimately refused to use because of the bombardment of phone calls.”
From a truck driver’s point of view, inefficient load booking systems and slow payment turnarounds meant the self-owned truck industry was suffering a major blow.
“It was becoming a real problem in the industry,” Cavanagh said. “And if you’re talking of travelling thousands of kilometres to deliver goods, only to find there is no pickup job for the way back, that’s a lot of money a truck driver has lost on a return journey.”
Fuelling a new automated platform
Over the past year, Cavanagh and his team worked to build an automated truck booking system that works in the similar way as Uber.
With the name derived from the radio channel in Australia truck drivers traditionally use to communicate, the fully automated app enables businesses to post a load delivery request. The app does the rest by notifying drivers, negotiating a price, tracking the load until it’s delivered and helping process the final payment.
Three months after its official launch, the app's uptake has quintupled in size and continues to grow. And as the platform is taking on more users, Cavanagh and his team are investing more to further streamline the app and spread the word via social media platforms like Facebook and engaging video marketing tactics.
“We’ve already got over 5000 users on the app and the more people sign up, the more we want to make the process even quicker and painless as possible,” he said.