11. Convoy

Keep on trucking

Founders: Dan Lewis (CEO), Grant Goodale
Launched: 2015
Headquarters: Seattle
$265 million
Valuation: $1.1 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, machine learning
Transportation, logistics

George Kavallines | CNBC

Truck drivers collectively cover more than 93 billion highway miles each year in the U.S., but up to 40% of those trips are made with empty trailers. This disconnect between shippers and truckers is what Convoy is solving. The Seattle-based company has developed an on-demand technology platform that allows trucking companies and shippers to connect via an app instead of relying on a broker, which utilizes email or phone calls.

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By using data-driven software to better match up shippers and truckers, founders Dan Lewis and Grant Goodale — both former Amazon executives — are proving they can save time, money and CO2 output.

They're going after a huge but fragmented market. According to the American Trucking Association, the U.S. trucking industry is worth $700 billion annually and is forecast to grow 3.4% in freight volume through 2023. But small firms — those with just three or four trucks — make up most of the market. Convoy is helping these truckers operate more efficiently and is giving its customers (GE Appliances, Home Depot, Anheuser-Busch and Unilever, among them) better tracking and pricing data. The company makes money by taking a percentage of each transaction on its platform.

So far, investors like what they see. In September, Convoy raised a whopping $185 million from CapitalG, the venture arm of Google parent company, Alphabet, bringing its total funding to $265 million. Other all-star backers include Bono, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff and Expedia chairman Barry Diller. The company hasn't said much about an IPO but did hire a CFO last year.

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