Fleet, a Disrupt 2014 San Francisco Battlefield finalist, is creating a way to find and rate freight forwarders — like a Yelp for international cargo shipping — in order to make logistics easier for small- to medium-sized companies.
Finding the most cost-efficient shipping solution can be quite the onerous task. After all, the world‘s cargo carrying fleet in 2011 consisted of 55,138 ships, as of 2011. Many of these companies charge outrageous fees on top of the pricing that third-party services provide. The combination of navigating the massive industry, and less-than-accurate pricing makes it difficult for small businesses, who already face budget constraints, to find the best bang for their buck.
Max Lock, founder of Fleet, discovered just how difficult finding a cost-efficient shipping solution could be when sourcing packaging for Schoolboy Ice Cream, a company he founded when he was in high school. After he began importing tens of thousands of cups from Chinese manufacturers for other businesses, he quickly discovered how much international shipping could eat into a small business’s bottom line.
In order to help Main Street businesses daunted by the cost of cargo shipping, Fleet is changing the way SMBs can approach the logistics market. It offers both a rating and review platform, and a booking and payment platform.
With more than 6,000 freight forwarders listed on its review platform, Fleet allows companies who need to ship products to sort through shipping companies by price, rating, shipment lanes, and location.
Its booking and payment platform isn’t available just yet, but when it goes live by the end of the year, it will offer services similar to that of travel companies Expedia and Kayak. Businesses will just enter the origin and destination of their products, and the service will match them with several freight forwarders. Then, Fleet will allow them to book, pay for, and track their shipments.
“Currently there is about a 60 percent churn rate among small- to medium-sized businesses in the freight forwarding space,” Lock told TechCrunch. “If a shipper has a bad experience with a forwarder, the only place they can go to find a new one is through Google.”
What’s interesting is that Locke believes Fleet will not only help small businesses, but shipping companies as well, as it can help them reach new clients and improve their brand reputation.