Trucker Path is a young company, founded only in 2013. Yet its mobile app, providing truckers with basic directory information such as location of rest stops, parking, diesel fuel stations, weigh stations and more has already attracted over 250,000 users. Its formula for success is a familiar one to data publishers: collect information that is really needed by a specific niche market but not readily available in one place elsewhere.
Another mobile app success story to be sure. And Trucker Path could have rested on its laurels. But just a few days ago, it signaled a much more ambitious vision with the launch of a new product called Trucker Marketplace. It is exactly what the name implies: a marketplace where truckers can find and connect with those who need to ship freight, either regionally or nationally.
It’s a simple concept, and it’s also not a new concept. Many companies have sought an intermediary role in this inefficient marketplace, particularly in the area of backhauls, where trucks often return home empty after delivering a load. And the opportunity is huge: more than 75% of all freight in the U.S. is delivered by truck.
Obviously, Trucker Path has a natural point of leverage in that it can offer this service to its existing base of satisfied directory users. But in another twist I find both significant and smart, Trucker Path is embracing freight brokers, not trying to disintermediate them. Rather than embracing the standard tech playbook of trying to blow up an inefficient industry in order to carve out a position, Trucker Path is simply trying to graft a new layer of efficiency onto an existing market. I would argue they’re trading a bit of potential upside for a radically increased chance of success.
Trucker Path does some other tried and true things such as providing credit, insurance and license data to its marketplace participants, a tested way to increase both value and trust.
Trucker Path is a case study for my long-held view that B2B data publishers in market verticals are well positioned to consider the marketplace model. They’ve got a brand, they’ve got the audience, and they know how to use data (e.g., license and credit information) to create the trusted environment that is essential to driving transaction volume. And despite their noisy collapse after the dot com bust (too much, too soon), I am very optimistic about the future of B2B exchanges. We all now recognize the value of workflow integration: if you’re enabling the flow of work for an entire industry, you’re obviously in a very good place.