I landed from my LAX to Tel Aviv flight (15 hours in case you’re wondering), Instagrammed and tweeted about waiting to get off the plane, and before I got to the door my phone was ringing. It was Jon Medved from OurCrowd letting me know that they’d just hired two female Partners, Evelyn Rubin as Business Development Partner and Danna Mann as Business Strategies Partner. If this is what I get for giving companies hell for having no women in senior positions – I just might become completely incorrigible.
What does this have to do with FreightOS? OurCrowd is an investor, of course.
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Zvi Schreiber is the CEO of FreightOS and a repeat, successful entrepreneur. Three out of the last four companies he’s founded were acquired. Tradeum was his largest success with a “home run” exit of $500 Million in shares back in 2000. It’s not a billion dollars, but it still doesn’t suck.
Now he’s cast his sight on disrupting the freight/cargo industry, one that generally avoids technology and has been shockingly Internet-resistant – until now. FreightOS launched a freight pricing automation platform back in March. It is working with several freight forwarders including a “multi-billion giant.”
I interviewed Zvi to find out more:
How would you explain FreightOS to someone who knows nothing about the shipping industry? What it does, why it’s different, and why is it better?
“It’s simply the equivalent of Expedia/Orbitz/Kayak for the shipment of goods rather than people. We help the sellers to automate their quotes online and we help the buyers to compare prices and quality and find the best deal.”
Why did you start FreightOS? Do you have a background in logistics?
“Most of my background is in software and Internet, including in B2B. I have no background at all within the logistics industry, but I did CEO a clean-tech electronics company named Lightech (acquired by GE Lighting) which was a customer for logistics. It was odd and frustrating that it could take a day or two to get a quote for door-to-door freight from our suppliers in China to customers in the US or Europe. That made me realize that freight has fallen behind other industries in going online creating a huge opportunity.”
How hard has it been breaking into this industry?
“The freight industry is incredibly fragmented. There are dozens of freight forwarders each doing over $1bn/year, and tens of thousands in total. There are hundreds of carriers owning the ships and aircraft. There has been an excited reception to FreightOS automating quotations and sales activities, which previously took hours of human interaction. But there is also clearly a certain conservatism in the industry and it sometimes takes some time and training to get people to adapt to working online.”
How is the business going? Any huge clients? How close are you to break even?
“Business has gotten off to a great start. Freight forwarders are excited by the possibility of automating sales on the web. We have several customers including one of the top 10 (can’t say the name).
“We’re on track to break even within the first year of sales.”
Who would use FreightOS? A company like Otto Versand looking to ship its items from China to the US? Or Zim who are actual shippers?
“The buyers are importers and exporters around the world.
“The sellers would usually be freight forwarders (who are like the travel agents) but sometimes it could be the carriers like Zim or Mearsk or the airlines.”
How much have you gotten in funding? From who?
“FreightOS raised $1.5m from OurCrowd as well as myself with family and friends.”
Is there anything that makes the shipping industry sexy?
“It’s a trillion dollars a year. Some people find that sexy!
“Mind you without freight we’d all be naked so that might be kind of sexy too.”
Image credit: Getty Images