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It's been around a year and half now since the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into effect. Passed in 2012 by the U.S. Congress, it forces all trucks to be outfitted with devices that track, manage, and share records of drivers’ on-duty hours. While the act was controversial and experienced a lot of backlash, particularly from truckers, at least one company has directly benefited from it.
On Tuesday, KeepTruckin, a provider of fleet management solutions and Electronic Logging Devices, announced a $149 million Series D round of funding led by Greenoaks Capital, with participation from existing investors IVP, GV, Index Ventures and Scale Venture Partners.
This latest round of funding brings the company’s total raised to $228 million, and it also brings the company's valuation to $1.25 billion, making KeepTruckin the latest unicorn.
Founded in 2013, KeepTruckin provides fleets with features to help them manage and connect their trucks. That includes compliance, fuel tax reporting and GPS tracking. In addition, the company also designs and develops its own ELDs, and provides an Electronic Logbook App which connects to the ELD via Bluetooth and automatically records driving time. Drivers can use the App to view and edit their logs, create vehicle inspections and send messages.
With the success of its ELDs, KeepTruckin says it will use the funds it just raised to build out its product line, which has grown to also include smart dashcams.
"We’ve seen significant growth and adoption on the back of the mandate. Obviously, ELDs are the foundation and we started this company with the mission of improving safety and efficiency for the trucking industry. ELDs and that mandate brought connectivity and improved safety through a more rigorous enforcement of the hours of service rules, but we see an opportunity to use that as platform to build upon," Shoaib Makani, Co-founder and CEO of KeepTruckin, told me.
One of the key areas of focus for KeepTruckin in 2019, he said, is going to be around safety, and specifically video safety. Since launching the products, the company has shipped tens of thousands of units and now it plans to double down in that area.
"We’re introducing our driver-facing dashcam option very shortly, investing in AI and machine vision capabilities to help not just understand what took place but prevent critical events and accidents through the alerting of drivers and more effective coaching. So that’s going to be another key area of focus for us. ELDs provide the platform and we’re adding additional safety functionality on top," Makani explained.
The plan is to also do more around efficiency going forward, helping its fleet customers better manage their assets. That will include a trailer tracking device, as well as cargo sensors, door sensors and temperature sensors to help fleets better manage their entire operation. In addition, the company will also be introducing products to help customers grow their business with new marketplace products.
"When we reach out to fleet management customers, their biggest request is ‘Can you help me find good work? Can you help me find loads?’ So, we’re building the marketplace that enables that and we’re bringing to market what we call the Smart Loadboard, which allows our carriers to access great fright opportunities. The other product is called Facility Insights, which will allow our carriers to actually understand and know what to expect at a shipper facility before they arrive. That’s some of the data have for our entire community, for the entire population of trucks with KeepTruckin ELDs," Makani said.
"We know where trucks stop and how long they stop for and that information is incredibly valuable for carriers so that they can know if this is a place that has high dwell time. Should I expect to be there for a significant period of time? How does that impact my plan? This information is really important and we’re excited to be able to empower our carriers with that data."
Part of building out those products will mean building out the team; KeepTruckin plans to double its 1,000 person team in the next 12 to 18 months, specifically in hardware and software engineering, as well as customer support. It will also mean building out its machine learning capabilities, which are already being used to increase video safety, allowing KeepTruckin to understand what takes place and actually deliver real time alerts to drivers so they can improve their performance and avoid collisions and then, after the fact, help them with coaching.
"Imagine you’re a fleet manager with 100 trucks; you can’t review every single critical event flag. Through a machine process, we’re able to analyze those videos and flag the ones that are coachable, and that is having direct impact on road safety. Customers have seen 50 percent reduction in critical events after deploying our smart dashcam, and it’s because that video and the context from it then informs improvement that actually drives the coaching conversation and helps drives get better. That’s really important," Makani said.
Another machine learning application involves vehicle maintenance, where the company can actually predict when a vehicle is going to have a maintenance incident and inform fleet managers that they should take preventive measures so they can reduce and minimize downtime.
"I have a view that, if you can model the past, you can predict and actually influence the future. We’re collecting all this data around how a vehicle operates, where it operates, how that driver drives, and on the back of that we’re able to predict what happens next with improving accuracy."
Now that KeepTruckin is a $1 billion company, how will that affect it going forward? According to Makani, it won't. He also wouldn't tell me if KeepTruckin is now looking at a potential IPO, saying that there are other priorities that the company has to worry about right now.
"This additional capital lets us continue to invest in our team and the products and services that our customers want. That’s really what is most important," he said.
"What we’re focused on right now is building the business and growing the company. Between our focus on safety and efficiency and building our fleet management platform, helping our fleets grow their business, and then investing in own team, it should keep us busy for quite some time."
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