Tech Into Nashville: Chris Cochran – FreightWise

FreightWise

Every day, logistics companies balance tight delivery deadlines against a myriad of problems that can delay freight. Ensuring that products get to their destinations on time is possible thanks to a dedicated team, an unwavering attention to managing shipments, and a plan that covers the needs of the entire supply chain. 

FreightWise

FreightWise is not a logistics company. They are an enterprise application company that addresses the need for logistics technology which, in turn, leads to a reduction in transportation costs by as much as 30 percent. Per the company’s website, “FreightWise was founded to fill a gap in the supply chain logistics space by providing a [Software as a Service (SaaS)] platform that solves challenges in clients’ visibility, optimization, manual processes, and cost. By leveraging technology, innovation, agile development, and industry expertise, our company tightly integrates with our clients’ existing infrastructure to reduce time, money, and resources spent on shipping.”

Focused specifically on parcel (i.e., full truckload), less than truckload (i.e., partial truckload), and spot market (i.e., multiple price quotes for delivery of freight at that particular moment) freight modes, FreightWise was founded by CEO Chris Cochran. FreightWise is actually Chris’s second startup venture in freight technology, with the first being Tracback Solutions. 

CEO Chris Cochran

“It was a system that was mainly around parcel analytics and business intelligence…” Chris explains. Describing Tracback Solutions as a “good but small” business, Chris exited the startup in 2013, after it was purchased by a third-party logistics company that was buying up various parcel technologies. In 2015, Chris formed FreightWise as a way to serve the freight industry with a larger idea that could solve more problems. 

Since it was his second go-round launching a startup, Chris had the experience and skills to make his new venture better than the last one. Chris reflected on his past efforts, and he asked himself questions such as “What are the specific tech problems that I’m looking to solve?” and “How am I going to create a better competitive atmosphere?” Following this period of introspection, Chris drafted his business plan, put together his board of directors and founding members, and self-funded the business. A year later, he had built out the technology platform and launched the business with its first client. 

Now, a little over four years later, FreightWise has 100 employees. In addition, it earned the number two spot on Inc. Magazine’s annual ranking of the 5,000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America in 2019. The year after and following tough competition, FreightWise earned the number four spot on Inc. Magazine’s annual ranking of the 5,000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America in 2020 for Logistics & Transportation companies, coming in as the 142nd ranked company overall. 

“Our platform is for shippers who have a significant supply chain. It’s a technology that is a transportation management system,” Chris explains. In the industry, there are a lot of SaaS companies that provide transportation management systems (TMS) to the logistics industry, including many well-established businesses that have trusted brands. But worries about entering a crowded field didn’t affect his decision to launch FreightWise. 

“We felt like there was a hole in the market because the TMS that were in the market space—and had quite a few customers—really ignored some key principles that were large trends in the supply chain,” Chris recalls. He says that many other TMS companies are still very slow to adopt technologies that could improve how logistics are handled for companies. These other companies also don’t do much to integrate with other systems. Worse still, these same TMS companies also suffer from having top-heavy administration that eats into business costs. For a lot of customers, the outdated infrastructure and bloated management pretty much guarantee lackluster service. “We know that everybody’s used to the Amazon best-in-class customer experience of getting alerts and notifications, and having full visibility, quick service, and things like that.”

In response to this state of affairs, FreightWise was built to provide the Amazon-style experience. It was brought to the marketplace in a way that gave customers flexibility. When purchasing, they could decide if they just want the technology to be used internally to the company or as a managed service that lets FreightWise handle some of the logistics burden for client companies. Such flexibility means that FreightWise can serve both smaller and larger customers—without having to stay in one lane. 

As a SaaS serving logistics technology needs, Chris says that it’s not easy to get customers. Typically, logistics customers rely on a complex network of systems sharing information to make sure that delivery of millions of dollars worth of goods are delivered without hiccups. Because of this, companies in the logistics technology space have to pass a stringent vetting process.

Chris says, “You better have a great plan, unless you want to run out of funding real quick. I mean, you need to have a plan that really hits the market correctly.”

Businesses in the industry of freight need SaaS providers like FreightWise since their technology infrastructure is limited. Historically, freight companies have to spend the lion’s share of their money on assets like the trucks, trailers, and drivers that make the deliveries. 

“They have to do a lot of improvements to be able to capture that extra revenue…” Chris explains. “It’s fair to say that the capital-intensive nature of equipment buying and leasing takes away from innovation on the technology side.” Since technology is what his company brings to the table, Chris makes sure that FreightWise stands out from the competition by investing in the technologies that make the company’s software easier to use and more cost efficient than others.  

Defining the prosperity of FreightWise, Chris says that a strong relationship with employees has helped FreightWise grow since its genesis. Employee loyalty is created by FreightWise through intentional adherence to the company’s core values of transparency, intelligence, innovation, and fun for those at all levels of the company. 

For the last value, Chris highlights that the company is light-hearted, and not stuffy. “We are the people who like to go out and have a drink at a bar,” he says. “We’re the people who like to go out and do an event.”

Chris notes that loyal employees have fostered a climate within FreightWise’s team of going the extra mile for the customer. By giving its employees the freedom and tools to help the customers, FreightWise is able to attract clients away from larger competitors. 

He says. “We’ve always prepared employees for large, visible, wide-sweeping goals. And we have such a great employee base and such a great culture—a culture that’s really optimized for performance. We’ve achieved every goal that we’ve set out to achieve a lot of times, even by double digit percentages above it.”


For further information about FreightWise, be sure to visit their website and social media.


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