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The Logistics of Logistics Podcast

Oct 23, 2019

Automating Cross-Border Transportation with Matt Silver

Matt Silver and Joe Lynch discuss automating cross-border transportation between the USA and Mexico.

[00:50] Introduce yourself and your company.

  • I’m Matt Silver, Founder and CEO of Forager. We’re based in Chicago, and our primary focus is on building technology to automate cross-border transportation.
  • I grew up in a logistics family and have been around it my entire life.
  • I learned more about the industry by working at Coyote when I was 19, a company which was founded by my parents.
  • We moved our first load at Forager in December 2018.

[03:13] Let’s talk a little bit about the biggest problems you saw in cross-border before we get into the solutions.

  • It all comes down to service and pricing at the end of the day.
  • Service is anything from “where’s my load? What’s going on with it?” to “I don’t understand what’s going on with these emails because they’re in Spanish” to “I don’t understand the customs process.”
  • I hear a lot of complaints about the spending. Bringing transparency to pricing is important to people in this industry.

[05:24] You say that even though some companies don’t spend the majority of their time on cross-border, they spend a big chunk of their time working on it.

  • If they’re grabbing the freight in Laredo after a pickup in Mexico, then sure, that was really easy for them.
  • Still, if they’re only controlling the US portion, they still have the problems of not knowing when it will cross into the country.
  • They run into capacity problems. There’s seven times more freight going from south to north than north to south.
  • Drivers don’t like waiting, and if they get stuck somewhere instead of going home, you’re putting them in a really bad spot.

[11:06] Are we going to talk about Canada also?

  • When you talk about cross-border, Mexico and Canada kind of get lumped together.
  • The reality of it is that Canada is almost like an extension of the US. There are a few differences, but it’s easy to pick up a load in Toronto and deliver it the next day in Chicago.
  • Mexico is definitely more challenging.

[13:00] Tell us about your hypothesis when starting your business.

  • The whole reason we started was to service cross-border freight. That’s what excites me.
  • There are so many freight brokers who specialize in domestic shipments. We wanted to specialize in cross-border and be different.

[18:36] Tell us how you guys go about automating cross-border transportation.

  • We’ve built a command center that allows someone to understand where their freight is at all times on either side of the border.
  • People are very important in our business. To me, automation means not having to spend an hour figuring out how to price a load.
  • About 70% of our freight can move through our system without human interaction.
  • Sometimes, people really want to talk to a human and we provide that.
  • The average transportation management system wasn’t built to manage cross-border freight.

[23:14] Transportation management systems keep getting better, but a whole bunch of stuff ends up in notes. Things in notes can never be part of the AI learning.

  • We have a notes field for now, but our plan is to eliminate it within the next year.
  • The most important thing in this entire industry is data. The more data you can generate, the more you can make your customers’ lives easier.
  • There are some companies trying to integrate emails into the data as well, which is very interesting.

[28:01] I like that you’re a freight guy first and a technology guy second. So often, I run into people who are just one or the other. You’ve grown up with both.

  • That definitely weighed into why we were able to raise capital.
  • What’s most important is bringing in the right talent. Our team brings unique perspectives.
  • Just building a TMS is not interesting to me. Developing game-changing technology is what I want to do.

[32:01] Tell us about what you guys are up to at Forager.

  • We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to move freight in and out of Mexico and Canada.
  • In the next few weeks, we’re launching a portal for customers to log in, plug in an origin and destination, and get a rate back instantly.
  • If customers want to talk to us, we’re happy to do that, but as more people from my generation are getting into this industry, they don’t want to have to talk to someone else all the time. They would rather log in and get a rate instantly.
  • We are the experts in the technology, but we’re making it useful for everybody.

[34:44] Any final thoughts?

  • It’s been awesome talking to you. It’s really refreshing when I don’t have to explain logistics to who I’m talking with.

Learn More About Automating Cross-Border Transportation:

Matt Silver on LinkedIn Profile

The Logistics of Logistics Podcast