What does the technology powering big banks have in common with the trucking business? A lot, if you ask the team behind San Francisco logistics tech startup LoadDocs.
In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, the company’s co-founding trio built a platform, Addepar, to give wealth advisors, family offices, and banks visibility into their portfolios. The technology provided unparalleled transparency, attracting clients including Morgan Stanley. Mark Zuckerberg’s team, too, depended on Addepar to monitor everyday asset performance.
The pivot to logistics stemmed from the recognition that, like finance, trucking has long been rooted in paper-laden and manual entry processes. “In both industries, a lot of valuable information is locked on paper,” says CEO Will Chu. “As a result, countless hours are spent entering that data manually. In finance, it’s fund quarterly reports. In logistics, it’s bills of lading.”
Today, Chu and LoadDocs Co-Founders Darren Chan and Brian Belcher are focused on modernizing and streamlining the logistics workflow, an ambition informed by their experience deploying financial services firms to the online platform developed by Addepar. To merge the unique on-the-road needs of truck drivers with business managers back at the home office, LoadDocs has also developed a mobile application to enable drivers and their fleets to reduce the many phone calls and physical paperwork required to complete a delivery.
“Handling lots of paper costs money, time and resources,” said LoadDocs Co-Founder and COO Belcher. “This tool saves those resources for what fleets do best — moving freight and serving customers.”
Day to day, the LoadDocs app provides drivers with an alternative to pulling over at truck stops to fax in bill of ladings, proof of deliveries, expense reports, and inspection documents. While the current fax-and-wait process can take up to four days to generate the invoice that gets drivers paid, the LoadDocs app enables fleets to achieve same-day invoicing with drivers scanning and sending documents from their smartphone immediately upon delivery.
Streamlining the proof of delivery process enables transparency for all stakeholders of the shipment to gain immediate awareness of its delivery status. Bringing this process online further unlocks opportunities for fleets to digitize documents. In the short term, fleets can begin to analyze their operations using LoadDocs’ text capture algorithms to help inform better, more data-driven decisions. For the long term, opportunities exist to one day eliminate paper altogether.
The idea behind LoadDocs was born in 2015, when Chu, Belcher and Chan visited a family friend’s trucking business in California’s vast, agricultural Central Valley. In the company’s parking lot, a metal shipping container filled with “stacks and stacks of paper,” as Belcher recalled, revealed an opportunity to free up staff time and company resources spent sorting paper records. The jump to logistics was a particularly natural one for Chan, who grew up helping his family’s food service business complete deliveries to Chinese restaurants.
Looking ahead, LoadDocs finds itself at the center of a wave of logistics industry innovation. One key value proposition for the company’s team of veteran Silicon Valley engineers is connecting the dots between emerging technologies. With thousands of drivers now using the LoadDocs mobile app each day, the company’s engineers are now exploring new tools to further optimize the shipment lifecycle.
As industry executives glimpse into the future of tech trends like blockchain and self-driving trucks, the engineers at LoadDocs are in position to hit the throttle in their adopted industry.