OnTruck set out to reinvent Europe’s trucking industry, a €600 billion market. Founded in 2016, the Madrid and Barcelona-based startup is building the leading tech platform and carrier network for B2B, on-demand trucking. OnTruck makes trucking simple and transparent, giving shippers and carriers back control. Since its start, the Spanish startup is growing like crazy – with now already over 140 employees and with about €36 million in venture capital. Time to catch up with the OnTruck founder and CEO Iñigo Juantegui to learn more about the companies history and future plans.
Please start by telling us about what motivated you to start OnTruck – and what are the main problems of the road freighting industry you want to solve?
OnTruck was created as a response to the inefficiency found in the road transportation sector. I had a colleague working in the industry and we were discussing how the mode of freight transport was an area where companies and transporters suffered significantly from inefficiencies. For example, there are many instances where drivers are circulating on the road with empty vehicles in 40% of displacements or perhaps are building up empty miles from taking inconvenient routes. We began to consider how technology could offer an innovative solution to these inefficiencies and so we started speaking with various professionals in the sector to understand their needs. From this we came up with a digital platform that would match professional companies with professional hauliers and OnTruck was born.
What is unique about OnTruck’s technology and your solution to the challenges stated before?
OnTruck’s algorithm creates efficient routes by linking shipment orders together and can reduce ‘empty’ kilometres by up to 20-25%. OnTruck provides hauliers a free and simple application enabling them to optimise the capacity of their vehicles or fleet and reduce the number of empty journeys giving shippers a quick and transparent price, saving them time that would have been wasted searching for and calling different carriers. Overall this creates major efficiency gains through reduced manual work, human error, deadhead miles, idle time and improvements to driving time through GPS-assisted routing. These benefits impact both the carrier and the shipper as well as alleviating pressure on infrastructure and reduces environmental impact, benefiting the whole community.
OnTruck has most recently opened up operations in the UK, how has the experience been launching into this market compared with the Iberian market? How do you prepare to enter into new European markets?
OnTruck has a team dedicated to launching new markets and implementing our playbook to ramp-up business operations as quickly as possible. We have also invested in our tech platform to be able to scale and internationalise quickly. Launching operations in the UK, our first international market outside of Spain, was a challenge – we had to build a top-notch team, establish credibility among local shippers and carriers, and learn the local market dynamics. However, we quickly learned that the problems we were solving in Spain were broadly applicable in the UK market as well, so we were able to overcome the most critical barrier: product/market fit.
What kind of impact does OnTruck have for the smaller hauliers and truck drivers working in the industry?
OnTruck helps owner operators and small to medium-sized fleets grow as a business by providing a platform for them to earn more money, optimise their vehicle capacity and get paid faster enabling them to have the capabilities of a big fleet. In the UK market alone 90% of our drivers are individual owner operators and small fleet operators, so businesses with less than 20 vehicles. Whereas the freighting industry has previously been marked by successive layers of sub contracting and extra costs, our technology provides a platform for small businesses to access more service transparency and access to better prices. With the free OnTruck App, drivers receive job notifications when new loads are available, and they can accept them or reject them as they see fit.
You already were able to raise about €35 million in venture capital. For our audience of young/aspiring entrepreneurs: Can you share some advice regarding how to raise venture capital and which mistakes to avoid?
The search for funding remains an ongoing challenge even for well established companies, but for those starting the journey, firstly I would tell them that if they have a good idea, a finished product and a good team then 80% of the work is already done.
The next step would be to establish realistic short term goals and to always remain focused on client feedback in order to maintain quality controls and therefore increase the service or product offering. The latter is one of the most important aspects. If budding entrepreneurs can remain focused on these aspects and prove they are capable of self-managing, they are more likely to get the attention and respect from those in venture capital.
How do you measure success in your business? And what kind of numbers and KPIs do you look at daily?
Our north star metric that guides our product and business decisions today is the number of shipments placed and fulfilled on our platform. Growth in shipments indicate our ability to deliver value to our clients, as well as our ability to acquire and engage carriers to fulfill those shipments. In a marketplace like ours, the most fundamental tenet is to be able to obtain sufficient liquidity in order to achieve network effects, which will allow us to sustain a long-term competitive advantage. All our focus is on healthy growth of shipments in the marketplace.
Where do you see OnTruck in about 3-4 years from now in terms of size/market coverage and impact?
We want to become the default platform for road transportation, bringing efficiency to all players in the ecosystem. We are well on our way to becoming the leading regional road freight transport platform in Europe, but we are already looking beyond that.