Oct 23, 2019
Automating Cross-Border Transportation with Matt Silver
Silver and Joe Lynch discuss
automating cross-border transportation between the USA and
[00:50] Introduce yourself and your
- 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
- 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
- It all comes down to service and pricing at the end of the
- 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
- I hear a lot of complaints about the spending. Bringing
transparency to pricing is important to people in this
[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
- 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
[11:06] Are we going to talk about
- When you talk about cross-border, Mexico and Canada kind of get
- 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
- 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
[18:36] Tell us how you guys go about automating
- We’ve built a command center that allows someone to understand
where their freight is at all times on either side of the
- People are very important in our business. To me, automation
means not having to spend an hour figuring out how to price a
- About 70% of our freight can move through our system without
- Sometimes, people really want to talk to a human and we provide
- 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’
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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