April 8, 2019

Undercover boss

Undercover boss

Freight-matching software exec climbs behind the wheel to test his own company's app.

By DC Velocity Staff

Whether it's surveys, customer reviews, or focus groups, most companies rely on customer feedback to get the lowdown on their products and services. But one software exec opted for an entirely different approach to evaluating his company's offering.

The executive is Mike Williams, CEO and director of Austin, Texas-based freight-matching service uShip. Founded in 2004, the company operates as an online shipping marketplace that connects consumers with big unwieldy items to move—think cars or couches—with providers who have extra truck space.

Williams wanted to see for himself how the platform worked in the real world. So he and his chief technology officer recently rented a 15-foot box truck and set out on a three-day road trip to test their own technology as they made deliveries around the South Central region.

The pair left Austin at 7 a.m. on a Monday and picked up a set of bookshelves from a client in Houston, then loaded a dresser with a mirror in Dallas. After stops in Kansas City; Columbia, Mo.; Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.; and Kansas City (again), the two made a final dropoff in Dallas before returning full-circle to Austin.

"There's no substitute for seeing it through the windshield," Williams said about the product test, which sparked plenty of ideas for upgrades and improvements. "One example—congestion around metro areas is frustrating because it can knock you off the schedule you expected. The next executive we hire, we will be certain to have them do the same exercise."

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