Fleet management may not sound like the sexiest industry in the world, but there’s no question that it’s a big one. There are 3 million long-haul truck drivers on U.S. roads today and they all have to report their driving hours to their dispatchers. Today they’re mainly creating those logs with pen, paper and fax machine, but a new Google Ventures-backed startup called KeepTruckin(s goog) is trying to automate the process on the smartphone.
Fleet Management is one of the oldest mobile vertical industries on the books. Qualcomm(s qcom) may be know today for powering the guts of our smartphones, but most people don’t know it started out as fleet tracking company. Many of the fleet technologies out there, however, have focused on corporate problems – managing and tracking thousands of trucks and payloads – not on the truckers themselves, KeepTruckin co-founder and CEO Shoaib Makani said.
“We actually start with the trucker and solve the universal and acute problem of tracking driving logs,” said Makani, who left Khosla Ventures to found KeepTruckin and did stints at AdMob and Google(s goog).
KeepTruckin’s forthcoming Android(s goog) and iPhone(s aapl) apps automatically track time and distance driven, generating log files, which automatically get sent to dispatch. It alerts drivers when they’re over federal-mandated driving limits, and with a driver’s permission sends real-time location data to dispatcher or fleet manager.
The app can be used in “single player” mode by an independent trucker looking to cut down on paper work – it will even generate a fax for dispatchers who still insist on getting paper records of fleet networks – but KeepTruckin is also creating a dashboard for fleet companies that integrates seamlessly with the app, Makani said.
“Because they are required by law to submit their logs to their dispatcher or fleet manager, the product is inherently viral,” Makani said. “The dispatcher gets sent logs from KeepTruckin repeatedly. Instead of just receiving them via email, we give the dispatcher a web dashboard where they can view their drivers’ logs, assign jobs, send messages, track location. It’s a bottoms up approach to fleet management – something no one has attempted.”
KeepTruckin has plans to move beyond drive logs into the more intricate details of fleet and truck management, including managing freight costs, automatic brokering of jobs, and dynamically priced insurance. The company raised $2.3 million in July led by Google Ventures.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Jack Cronkhite