One of the latest entrants into the crowded "Uber for trucking" sector is taking a creative tack to raise funds: selling shares in its own "cryptocurrency," a type of virtual electronic money similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum.
The company, Doft, is a Walnut, Calif.-based tech startup that says its mobile app can reduce deadhead miles, automatically locate backhaul cargo, and help shippers move unplanned urgent freight. The company joins a crowd of recent entries to the freight-matching marketplace that includes Haulme LLC, XYpper Technologies Inc., Transfix, 10-4 Systems Inc., Cargomatic Inc., and UberFreight.
To stand out from the pack, the founders of Doft (an acronym for "Do Freight Transportation") are raising money in a way that past generations could not have imagined. The firm held an "initial coin offering" (ICO) in October, in which it created its own currency—called Doftcoins (DFC)—then sold them to buyers like truck drivers, third-party logistics service providers (3PLs), and freight shippers.
Launching an ICO allows a firm to seek funding from the general public, rather than dealing strictly with venture capitalists. The strategy works best when large crowds line up to buy shares, so Doft sweetened the deal by offering anyone who bought Doftcoins in October a 50-percent premium on their investment as well as a lifetime of 0-percent commissions—worth an average of $100 per load—on all freight booked through the Doft platform.
So the next time you see a tractor-trailer cruising down the highway, remember that the driver behind the wheel may also be a high-flying financial speculator.