February 27, 2019

Drayage sector is hot corner for tech startups

Drayage sector is hot corner for tech startups

Fast growth, venture funding seen for BookYourCargo.com, Dray Alliance, DrayNow.

By DC Velocity Staff

Logistics technology startups continue to invest in solutions for the drayage sector, with a New Jersey firm reporting double-digit growth today just hours after another company said it had landed millions in venture funding.

West Long Branch, N.J.-based BookYourCargo.com said today it had booked 48 percent revenue growth in 2018 compared to the previous year. The firm did not provide specific figures.

The company, which calls itself a technology-driven freight broker, says it offers a drayage-focused, customer-centric, aggregation of shippers and truckers on a web-based platform. The platform helps truckers manage their return journey and idle hours, while helping shippers accomplish their needs with real-time cargo visibility from origin to the destination, BookYourCargo said.

The announcement comes just days after container transportation platform startup Dray Alliance said it had landed $3.5 million in funding to extend its vision of building an "Uber for drayage" product, and months after startup DrayNow Inc. raised $5 million for a platform that provides real-time freight booking and tracking.

Far larger sums have been flowing to digital freight brokers in the long-haul trucking sector, where newcomers like Transfix, Uber Freight, and Convoy are challenging traditional players like C.H. Robinson and Echo Global Logistics in the race to build data-driven smartphone apps that replace laborious, manual processes.

Despite the deep financing for those firms, driver and capacity shortages are driving enough demand that opportunities still exist in certain corners of the industry for specialized products that address niche operations like drayage.

"Even five years ago, we could see that drayage was becoming a significant pain point," BookYourCargo CEO Nimesh Modi said in a release. "With demurrage and detention fees consistently escalating, drayage is one of the most tedious, expensive and under-served segments of the supply chain. We recognized the role technology and digitization could play in providing solutions."

The BookYourCargo product addresses those challenges by providing a web-based platform with load boards, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled Rate Management System, EDI, and predictive analytics, that combine to support digitized processes for handling administrative aspects, such as billing and scheduling and enhanced planning tools including real-time dashboards, the firm says.

"Everyone recognizes the challenges faced by the short-line drivers; long waits at terminals with environmental consideration mandating that they cut their engines," Modi said. "It can be extremely hot or terribly cold. The waits can sometimes allow them only one turnaround, which makes their jobs non-compensatory based on the need to keep trucks and equipment modernized."

The market's continued support for applying new technology to solve those age-old problems shows that the humble smartphone app may continue to have outsized leverage in moving the enormous shipping containers that form the foundation of global logistics.

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