Grant Crawford has been promoted to President at Emerge, the Leto brothers’ third and current freight tech startup. Crawford began his career in logistics in 1991 as a package handler for FedEx Ground when it was just getting started and eventually rose to VP of international operations, overseeing the company’s expansion into Canada.
Andrew and Michael Leto founded Emerge in 2018; in November the startup raised a $20 million seed round led by Greycroft Partners, a bicoastal venture capital firm whose portfolio includes Axios, Huffington Post, Shipt, and Venmo. The Letos have been a fixture in freight technology for 15 years. In 2003, the brothers founded GlobalTranz, a tech-powered freight brokerage, in a one bedroom apartment. In 2012, the Letos launched 10-4 Systems, a visibility solution provider they sold to Trimble in September 2017.
FreightWaves spoke to Grant Crawford by phone.
Crawford was brought on as Chief Commercial Officer in the fall of 2018 as the Letos rounded out their new executive team with people who could offer experience and views from the outside. Crawford said his job initially was to learn the company and gradually take on greater responsibility as the company prepared its go-to-market strategy. Michael Leto, Crawford said, had the patience to build the platform and team for two years before Emerge began seeking customers—that’s something that attracted him to the company.
Emerge launched commercial operations last fall and is already generating seven digit monthly revenue with plans to grow 5x. As president, Crawford sees his role as bringing Emerge to large shippers and companies where the platform can make an impact, growing the company aggressively, and preparing it for another growth equity round. The venture capital market remains robust, Crawford said, with a high level of interest in Emerge and no shortage of firms to talk to. Crawford said that having Will Szczerbiak, Principal at Greycroft, as a board observer at Emerge gave him regular opportunities to discuss strategic ideas with another outlet.
“My core responsibility is interacting with our enterprise customers and ensuring that we’re hitting our KPIs,” Crawford said.
Crawford emphasized that Emerge is much more than a transportation management system, but combines aspects of ‘digital brokerage’ by automating load matching and pricing. Emerge calls this aspect of its platform a ‘private freight marketplace’.
“We are first and foremost a freight marketplace that is providing a platform with a TMS feel,” Crawford explained. “Once you’re in our system, it becomes quickly apparent that the platform, while it has a TMS feel, is much more than that—it’s providing realtime rates for more than 13,000 active carriers, for example.”
Emerge’s basic value proposition is that automating many aspects of freight brokerage drives down the cost, saving shippers money and paying carriers more, which drives adoption of the platform. Greater adoption of the platform generates even more data in the private freight marketplace which can then be leveraged to create insights for customers and refine pricing and transit data even further.
“Our focus is continuing to enhance the pure speed of our platform, in providing as many options in the quickest period as possible when an existing shipper goes in and says, for instance, ‘I need a truckload from L.A. to Chicago.’ Investing in technology that allows us to do that,” Crawford said.