Logistics is not hot. Nobody is telling their assistant, “Bring me the hottest trucking deals out there, I have a hundred grand burning a hole through my pocket and I want it buying a semi trailer working the Moose Jaw millet run.”
But there is money to be made in transport. Hell, between Lyft, Uber, and Tesla, you’ve got about $130 billion in market cap, and that’s just on the B2C end of things.
Few have spoken loudly about the B2B opportunities in transport.
Allow me to change that.
Picture the scene. A truck driver casually plays Candy Crush on his phone while sitting in the cab of his parked 18-wheeler. It just ticked past 10pm. His delivery is officially late, but he’s not going anywhere. It took 14 hours to drive to this Wal-Mart warehouse gate, the same gate he’s been staring at for two hours now, struggling to stay awake, as trucks in front of him in the queue unload their goods.
When he gets to the end of this long line, the Wal-Mart receiver will tell him he’s been marked late and the company billing system will fine the trucking company for missing its delivery window. That’s going to cost hundreds of dollars… like it always does.
The driver’s boss could fight that decision and argue the lineup wasn’t his driver’s fault, but there’s not really any way to prove that easily and, frankly, nobody wants to fight his biggest client on a few hundred bucks unless he has some way of actually demonstrating he’s absolutely in the right.
This situation happens more often than not. Late fees are built in to trucking costs because they happen so frequently. A driver can spend their entire day sitting at the docks, waiting to be let in for a pickup, and can find themselves stuck in someone else’s drop-off lineup without a means to unload on the other side, all of which amounts to wasted money.
This only happens because trucking companies have, for decades, done business like grandpa did in 1973. Carbon paper. Pencils. Radio. The newest teach is something the kids call ‘Spreadsheets.’
“Oh, your logbook says you were at my warehouse on time?” a foreman might laugh. “Mine says you weren’t. Mine wins. Get your side tables unloaded and get out of here.”
This may seem insane to you, given we are in an increasingly connected world, where Bluetooth and wifi and GPS are things. But being late when you’re not is just one problem the logistics world has to deal with; theft is another killer.
This might happen sometimes when a driver takes a quick detour and mysteriously arrives with less flatscreens than they left the warehouse with, or when a delivery is made honestly but the receiver ‘miscounts.’ This is such a problem that, in fact, some trucking companies send tail cars behind their drivers to make sure they end up where they should.
Traffic is another problem, as are drivers taking less-than-ideal routes, or missing a drop off entirely by accident. Perishable goods can go awry when temperatures run too high or too low. When things go wrong, the driver radios his dispatcher to let them know… Sometimes. Other times they forget, or hope the boss won’t notice they made a mistake, or they do every single thing right but find themselves accused of actions outside their control and with no evidence to prove their innocence.
Let’s be honest, trucking sucks, and most of the suckdom comes from an old system that has barely made use of technology since phones came in ‘flip’ or ‘non-flip’ versions.
The answer to all of this is a system that monitors everything, and does so in a secure manner, while offering up a tracking dashboard that gives the dispatcher buckets more control and data than they’ve ever had before. (This is the part where I mention a public company you might enjoy investing in)
Litelink Technologies (LLT.C), has taken a run at providing the sort of holistic logistics tracking system that fixes all of these issues and more, but also serves as a B2B cargo booking platform that you could call the Uber of Cargo and not be justifiably accused of being ridiculously pumpy when doing so.
Having seen this tech in action, I’ve got to tell you it’s everything advertised. This is not an alpha build, nor a beta install. This is ready for prime time, and being used by some really big clients right now. In fact, I spent half an hour with this tech and feel like I could not just use it, but administer it.
THAT’S THE POINT.
Look, truckers come in all shapes and sizes, but enough of them have trouble following basic instruction that any software designed for their use has to be REAL EASY. And 1ShiftLogistics, LiteLinks’ first software product release, is that.
THE UBER OF TRUCKING? COME ON NOW.
I know what you’re thinking and I’d think the
same thing. Calling something the Uber of anything, or the Amazon of anything, or the Apple Store of anything, is trite and pointless. But in this instance, I’m doubling down on it because it actually applies.
Large trucking companies have their own software systems they’ve built to handle their s
pecific needs for tracking deliveries and drivers and figuring out the best routes and when trucks are going to need maintenance. But all of these existing solutions deal with one problem, and don’t exactly talk to each other. They certainly don’t incorporate AI.
LiteLink’s 1Shift Logistics does exactly that.
This includes how a company actually finds it customers.
When a shipping client needs 40 trucks going across America, the larger transport companies with lots of depots and drivers and trucks everywhere will bid for the contract, and the little guys don’t.
But imagine, if you will, another system, where anyone with a truck can login, register their vehicle and details into one large market comprising of all companies, and then compete to be one truck among the 40 needed.
This usually couldn’t happen, because no customer wants to deal with a dozen different trucking companies and whatever shitty system they’re using.
But imagine a system where a four-truck company can take part of that 40-truck need, and a 12-truck company gets theirs, and they all bid their best price to get that job, and the shipper can take all those bids on because he or she has one single dashboard that follows ALL OF THEM, regardless of the trucking company they represent.
Imagine a system where good drivers receive ongoing credit for being good partners, where they can get a Yelp-like rating, where they can establish one-off jobs and ongoing work at the same time, where they can reduce their rate during slow times and increase it during the peak season…
AND where they can demonstrate through the sensors on their vehicle and the data they collect EXACTLY THE TIME THEY JOINED THE QUEUE, thereby avoiding late fees forever.
Now imagine if you could scale the company to take on thousands of new drivers in weeks, not months. Now imagine if some of the biggest logistics companies and their customers were so impressed with what you’ve built that they want to take it and try it out NOW.
Finally, imagine if a guy like me could be trained up on it in ten minutes, to the point where I feel like I could administer the system.
Would that all be something that could be rightly referred to as the Uber of Trucking?
HERE’S THE THING:
When you look at LiteLink, if you dig in deep enough, you’re going to find a quarterly loss last quarter. It wasn’t tiny – some $4.3 million, but the stockl has stood up decently regardless of that loss, and while every other sector has been getting crushed.
Worth noting: Since those financials were released, LiteLink has launched its 1Shift product proper. It’s now bringing in clients.
New companies are signing on left and right.
The 1Shift Logistics platform has reached maturity and LiteLink has shifted its efforts to sales and marketing across North America. LiteLink has added an additional sales office in Montreal to increase its sales presence in Eastern Canada. In addition to physical sales offices, 1Shift is engaging in digital product marketing to maximize lead generation and sales with a focus on increasing efforts in Q3. The initial focus is to provide 1Shift Logistics to carriers, brokers and shippers across North America this year, followed by expansions into South America in early 2020.
That loss was an R&D and marketing loss, leading into the actual sales cycle, which the company is now in.
In other words, I’d expect revenue numbers in the next results.
Litelink Technologies Inc. has signed its first U.S. 1Shift Logistics customer, Bay Water Transportation, a fully licensed and insured international logistics service provider headquartered in Houston, Tex.
Still in September:
Litelink Technologies Inc. has signed a customer trial and a definitive user agreement with one of Canada’s largest nurseries, Brookdale Treeland Nurseries Ltd., to provide Brookdale with the enterprise version of the 1Shift Logistics platform. This agreement marks a milestone and a major step forward toward 1Shift operating in the tree and nursery industry across North America. Over 3,000 nurseries operate in Canada alone.
Litelink Technologies Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Segra International to establish a strategic go-to-market alliance to pilot 1Shift Logistics software for cannabis tracking.
And one week after that, a new product!
Litelink Technologies Inc. has launched PerfectRoute, a delivery route planning and fleet optimization solution for all types of vehicles designed for last-mile delivery, powered by the 1Shift Logistics platform [..] Route optimization will be provided to enterprise customers via Litelink’s flagship 1Shift platform, but also as a stand-alone offering in a simple monthly subscription format under the second brand PerfectRoute, guaranteeing the best route for any delivery to achieve the lowest delivery costs.
There’s another element in the LiteLink story; a blockchain focused subsidiary called uBuck that I’m not even going to go into detail with here because it’ll just confuse the story. Suffice to say, they have blockchain/AI tech that is being utilized within 1Shift to track info on the blockchain, and a lot more besides.
But you don’t need that encouragement to get you excited about LiteLink because, let’s face it, 1Shift is enough.
For me, it’s enough because LiteLink isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. They’re not creating new wizardry that users would need months to learn or massive marketing to sell to. This is genuinely a case of, if you show it to people in the trucking business, I believe they will buy in.
And when they do, LiteLink doesn’t need a massive capital spend on equipment to deliver their product. They can scale QUICK and are doing just that.
There haven been logistics deals before that have got me excited, and ended poorly. Tracker Ventures (TKR.C) was a recent play but relied on having truck owners make hardware upgrades to their vehicles. That proved a bridge too far. And health software deal Reliq Health (RHT.C) came from a deal earlier that was all about telematics in trucking for a hot moment, but ended distracted by other things.
I’m not going to tell you that LiteLink couldn’t end the same way, but I’m seeing something here I didn’t see with the others – real clients, and quickly.
I spend a lot of money on SkipTheDishes food deliveries these days, and I love that business model of making it easier for third parties to connect, and taking a piece of every transaction when that happens. And that’s what’s happening here. Once the software has launched, it’s all margin from that point forward, and we are officially in margin time now.
I don’t hear many pitches where, by the end, my first thought is ‘how can it be that this doesn’t exist yet’, because, realistically, that the trucking industry doesn’t already have this is mind boggling. But it doesn’t.
Dude, they still use FAXES.
Lock up your typewriters!
I’m buying, despite a feeling that we’re still a month away from the point where I can see this going. It’s not that I’m trying to catch the bottom or anything, I just figure there’s a lot of news coming out on this and if one big client gets dropped into a deal, a run on the stock might happen quickly and without warning.
Or it may not. Either way, I’m staking my claim.
Now, I know some of you are going to say, ‘big deal, the moment a big company brings them on as a customer, they’ll just buy them up.
My answer to that would be… Yeah.
Yeah, I know.
— Chris Parry
FULL DISCLOSURE: I bought in on this thing because I dig it a lot, it’s cheap, and I feel like the risk – that someone may copy them, or that they may not get industry pickup quickly – is small. This is a multi-year project that has – this quarter – gone to market for sales. They’re not a client, but may be soon. Either way, I bought in and am defending my purchase. We out here, Ashik.