Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.
The following is an interview we recently had with Aliya Salakhova, CMO of Doft.
1. What’s the history of Doft? How and where did you begin?
AS: The idea for Doft started in late 2015 when I visited my friends in Chicago, IL who were developing their small trucking business at that time. They told me how difficult it was to find freight for their trucks to keep them loaded every day. After a search for any app that featured instant matching of freight, trucks or loads ended with no results, we saw an opportunity. Along with co-founders Dmitri Fedorchenko and Sergey Zaturanov we built the prototype.
2. Who are the founders and key team members?
More than 10 years of IT expertise and entrepreneurship, founder of several successful startups. Holds an IT Master’s degree in Computer Science – Software Engineering.
Previously worked as a PM at IBM, tech lead at Deutsche Bank, software engineer at Daimler, senior software developer at Exadel Inc.
Over 8 years of entrepreneurship experience which includes participation in different ventures and startups including her own computer training school.
Worked as a Marketing/PR Manager at Colliers International, a Child supervisor/Volunteer at the United Nations in Ivory Coast, Africa, columnist at Premiere fashion & entertainment magazine, singer and songwriter at her own music label.
Sergey Zaturanov is a professional IT Engineer with 10+ years of experience. Founder of IT startups. Worked as Project Manager and Tech Lead at LG Electronics, Tech Lead at Samsung.
Has an expertise in robotics, semiconductors, high tech. Holds Master’s degree in Computer Science.
From a time of 1977 and until about 2005 he was the President and Owner of Virginia Hiway, Inc., t/a VHI Transport, (VHI) a successful transportation brokerage business in Chester, VA. In 2005 he gave his shares of the company to his son and his wife, David, and Tonya Gee, but have stayed engaged in the business, who now has brought in a couple of their children who are starting their career in this exciting industry.
He was also one of four owners of a successful internet website, named Getloaded.com, which was used by shippers, brokers and motor carriers for matching their respective needs for freight or carriers online.
This company had a very large presence in the transportation industry in America. The company was sold in 2008 for $75mm.
Patrick Hull is an American entrepreneur based in Richmond, Virginia. He is known for founding Getloaded.com. He has revolutionized the logistics with the freight matching service for long-haul truck drivers. His innovative approach and integration of technology transformed the trucking sector. Hull has a passion for marketing innovations and has a history of identifying and implementing new approaches that improve existing business processes and generate significant value.
He has a wide range of international business experience and his areas of expertise include marketing, joint venture negotiations, corporate development, and strategic planning. As a business owner and investor, he controls financial interests in more than 30 companies. These companies span a variety of industries, including transportation, technology, entertainment, real estate, restaurants, energy, finance, insurance, and mobile applications.
IT and mobile communications professional. Worked in start-ups and large to medium corporations.
Initiated services and technology offerings, as well as started new teams in various IT and mobile subject-matters. Comfortable in client engagements on the business development and implementation side.
Angel investor in Russia and former USSR countries: mobile and interactive content and information services.
3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?
AS: Doft solves the problem of independent owner operators. There are almost 500k of owner operators in the USA. Becoming an owner operator, independent with own truck and trailer, operating authorities, and insurance, comes with its bonuses, but there are a lot of problems too:
1. Empty miles – deadhead and backhaul. Drivers need to drive empty to a pickup point or return home not loaded. Big rigs hitting the road with empty or nearly-empty cargo areas is a big financial hit for companies operating with fewer than 20 trucks, and according to the American Trucking Association (ATA), that’s roughly 97.2% of carriers.
2. Freight brokers. The need of freight brokers is still there, but they take hidden commissions which are sometimes very high. Independent owner-operators cannot get freight directly from shippers because they don’t have a long list of shipping customers and don’t have time to call them and set up relationships. Eliminating the need for the freight broker is one of the most essential uberization tasks.
3. Small shippers lose money because they cannot find a truck for their freight. Most of the shipments occurred accidentally – we call it “last minute” shipments when a small business (a farm for instance) sells its produce (let’s say pumpkins) to a buyer who wants pumpkins to be delivered by tomorrow. A sale event is always unpredictable but when it happens a shipper (in our case a small business) needs his freight to be delivered as soon as possible with the cheapest possible rate. They don’t have relationships with huge motor carriers because its expensive, so the only possible solution for them is: A) call a freight broker who takes a hidden commission and is slow or B) search for a truck themselves using online load boards which is a very time-consuming process. In any case, its takes either lots of time or money to move their freight from point A to point B in the most efficient way. Here’s where Doft comes into play. Doft solves each of these problems.
4. What is your solution to this problem?
AS: We call it uberization of trucking. Doft has developed a free mobile app for drivers which gives them unlimited access to thousands of loads daily. Doft matches truckers on the road with available freight instantly when the load is posted. It’s an on-demand truck-matching platform which matches direct truck driver and shipper in real-time. With Doft drivers can filter only “good” loads and receive offers with rates which they are ready to accept. Therefore, truckers don’t have to spend lots of time finding loads, now loads will find them instead. This is the simplification of the process and “pain relief” for owner-operators. They don’t have to hire dispatchers anymore, Doft will dispatch loads for them. Independent owner-operators don’t have to deal with ignorant, demanding dispatchers, who can really make an owner operator’s life a living hell. A miserable, vengeful dispatcher can break an owner operator’s small trucking business.
By introducing its own cryptocurrency, Doft wants to eliminate other problems which are related to payment workflow. Doftcoin is a token issued by Doft based on Ethereum network which must become the gold standard of payments in trucking industry. Doftcoin will be utilized in Doft platform allowing truckers to pay for different services including Doft Store – an online shop of trucking appliances. As soon as Doftcoin starts trading on major cryptocurrency exchanges, truckers will more likely accept it for their transportation services and later can either exchange it to other crypto or fiat currency or even spend it on fuel, shower, accommodation or other necessities. Making Doftcoin the major payment method in trucking will help Doft to scale geographically without any need to cooperate with local banks making Doft a more reliable and easy-to-scale platform.
5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?
AS: As innovative technology enters the nearly $800 billion industry, leaders at trucking companies and drivers must take a comprehensive look at how that technology can help drive the industry forward.
It is obvious that freight brokerage market will shrink from nearly $160 billion to much lower number because of uberization of the industry. This creates a new opportunity for so-called “uber of trucking” startups. The freight brokerage market will need to increase efficiencies via technology investments to oppose shrinking margins and growing competition or it will be killed by high tech logistics companies.
Revenue share of Uber-like platforms will grow from $100mm in 2014 to at least $26.5 billion in 2025 (based on Frost & Sullivan report “Uber for Trucks: Executive Analysis of the North American Mobile-based Freight Brokerage Market “) – this is the trend in trucking which is only going faster now. It means that the optimization of logistics is one of the most promising segments in IT nowadays.
6. What’s the future of your industry?
Prediction #1: New decentralized trucking app built on blockchain will appear and change everything we know about logistics and transportation. There are no real implementations of such ideas till now. Doft makes huge steps forward to become the leader of this process.
Prediction #2: Freight Brokers will be substituted by technology matching freight and trucks in real-time. This is a long process maybe even not a matter of 10 years but still, we can see that smart AI algorithm can easily solve problems in seconds which can take hours of human time. For instance, finding the most efficient route for a truck or finding the most suitable backhaul load.
Prediction #3: Self-driving trucks driven by robots. This is already happening and will change the trucking market completely. Purchasing such a “smart-truck” is one thing, but keeping it loaded is another. We can expect that self-driving trucks will have an on-board computer with load-matching capabilities. Such computers will receive loads from all the shippers around and show them to an operator who can accept a suitable job. They will use third-party load aggregators like Doft to collect all possible freight available for pickup in the area. This is the next generation logistics.