Having delivered everything from modular bathrooms to pallets of water, Freight Drive is looking to revolutionise the way Australians handle freight……
Steele Jolly, Freight Drive’s founder and director, has entrepreneurship in his blood – his grandfather was the first distributor for John Deere in Western Australia.
Decades later, Steele is blazing his own path with what he describes as ‘Uber for freight’.
The platform connects customers to a screened pool of owner-operator carriers, which Steele said reduces one of the biggest problems in the industry – truckies driving without a load.
“Road freight industry productivity levels are too low, forcing unaware customers to pay for trucks to travel distances empty, and carriers hide that cost in their freight price,” he said.
“The industry is overpopulated and highly competitive, and unfortunately the national economy doesn’t produce enough freight to fill all the trucks on the road.
“Freight Drive solves this problem by building a mobile app that offers work to 70 per cent of national road freight carriers, owner-drivers.”
Steele said this was just one of many reasons the $41.5 billion a year road freight forwarding industry is in desperate need of a shake-up.
“Customers blindly trust their carrier to meet their expectations because their options are limited,” he said.
“Carriers endeavour to meet their customer’s expectations, however, competitive pressures can force them to operate on low profit margins, and so carriers push to achieve quantitative measures over quality service.
“Our system notifies customers when a vehicle has been allocated, pre-collection and in-transit real-time tracking on the map, as well as instant electronic proof of delivery complete with a digital signature.”
While establishing credibility is often a startup’s biggest struggle, Steele said the way Freight Drive works has made that one of the easiest parts of the platform’s development.
“I guess customers feel secure when they can see their high-valued item travelling along the map in real-time,” he said.
“This transparency helps customers be more trusting of the process and also helps customers to adapt to potential changing conditions with time in hand.”
This isn’t the only shakeup Steele is focused on though, he said the platform is designed to encourage safer driving practices.
“We have a rating system where customers review our carriers based on punctuality, presentation and professionalism – not how quickly they did the job,” he said.
“We take a firm stance against customers encouraging that behaviour, as do the Police and the Heavy Vehicle Regulator.”
As he juggles two part-time staff with an MBA and two young kids, Steele said for now, the aim is just to keep growing.
“We’re not just focusing on capital cities, we’re also targeting regional industrial centres like Bunbury, Wagga Wagga and Toowoomba,” he said.
“We’ve recently begun a three-month MVP trial period, to seek validation from the market and proof of concept.
“From there, we start planning for more advanced versions and further augmenting our offering.”
For more on Freight Drive, visit their website.