The Breakout List of high potential and high growth start-ups for 2019 has been published, and FreightWaves is on the list, finding itself in the company of several renowned companies including Flexport, Clearbit, Bolt, Airtable, Reserve, comma.ai and DeepMind.
To perceive the list’s relevance, it is essential to understand the essence of ‘breakout trajectory,’ and its significance in the start-up ecosystem. A term popularized by Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, breakout trajectory is a growth metric that people can rely on to judiciously choose a specific start-up to work for that they know has a high probability of success.
By curating a list of start-ups that follow breakout trajectories, breakout lists essentially make it easier for people to pick winners in a specific segment. They also serve to reinforce the success of the start-ups, as they get to select the best talent from the candidate pool, helping set in place a thriving atmosphere within the start-up.
This year’s Breakout List has a high density of start-ups that work in the logistics and transportation space, which is in line with the investor interest and the explosive growth of start-ups in the industry in recent years.
Here’s the list of companies in the logistics and transportation space that made the cut in this year’s Breakout List.
FreightWaves is a SaaS company, with its lynchpin solution called SONAR – an analytics tool that brings together millions of freight market data points under a single dashboard, delivering a comprehensive view of the U.S. freight market. That apart, the company doubles up as a news site, which currently ranks as the world’s largest and most read transportation and logistics news portal, having risen to the top less than two years after its inception. The company recently launched Trucking Freight Futures, which helps participants mitigate their exposure to the volatility of U.S. trucking spot prices.
FreightWaves is also one of the founding members of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), which is the world’s largest open standards blockchain platform for the supply chain industry.
Cruise Automation aims to make autonomous driving cars a reality and is developing sensors that can capture comprehensive data across all possible complications that can arise on the road. The start-up simulates real-world scenarios in zero-consequence, off-road environments, thus helping the self-driving algorithms to train and learn how to respond during unexpected road experiences.
Convoy is a digital freight marketplace that is connecting truck carriers with shippers, third-party logistics providers and logistics forwarders, helping reduce deadhead miles and downtimes. Using data analytics, the company also improves truck utilization and provides the shortest possible truck routes which help fleets save on fuel and time. The company recently stated that it had achieved 100 percent automated matching of loads in its top markets across the country, resulting in no human intervention in the process.
Flexport is a freight forwarding company that provides its clients with real-time shipment tracking, analytics and a proactive issue management solution that helps businesses to transport their cargo around the world efficiently. The company helps streamline and automate the largely inefficient process of freight forwarding by digitizing supply chains for seamless global trade. Businesses expedite shipping while having greater visibility and control over their cargo, along with lower transaction rates and cheaper prices.
Samsara is a sensor systems company that combines wireless sensors with remote networking and cloud-based analytics to improve safety, efficiency and quality of operations. Sensors can help trucking companies reduce accidents and increase efficiency, as it can monitor drivers and help the management train the ones who display erratic and reckless driving behavior.
DoorDash is a food delivery startup that connects customers with their favorite restaurants through ‘dashers’ – people who work as independent contractors in the last-mile on-demand delivery ecosystem. The company has a presence in over 1,500 cities across the U.S. and Canada, and has delivered more than 100 million parcels since its founding in 2013.
Waymo is an autonomous driving technology start-up, that is aiming to make transportation safe and affordable for everyone. The company, now part of Alphabet, has been testing its self-driving cars on the road since 2009, and has run several million miles more than its immediate competition in the autonomous driving race. Waymo wants to improve the efficiency of transportation, while offering people new mobility options and ultimately reducing accidents on the road due to human negligence.
Uber Eats is the last-mile food delivery arm of Uber Technologies Inc., which connects consumers with restaurants via independent contractors – all through a smartphone application. The startup provides restaurants with new ways to make money and expand their reach beyond the regular in-store diners, while also providing work for the delivery personnel who can deliver food on any medium, be it a car, bike or a scooter.
Bird is a last-mile electric scooter rental start-up that aims to reduce car usage and traffic congestion in cities, especially during peak hours. The company was one of the quickest ever to cross the $1 billion valuation, and has a presence across 10 countries and over 100 cities. The rental scooter vertical has been very popular in the U.S., biting into the on-demand cab hailing market in large metropolitan cities.
Nauto is a fleet safety management and tracking start-up that improves commercial fleet safety by preventing collisions before they occur. To make this happen, the company leverages artificial intelligence to assess how drivers interact with the vehicle and the road to reduce distracted driving and prevent collisions. Using the data, Nauto is also developing self-driving technology that looks to combine the best human driving practices with autonomy.
Ride OS is a next-generation transport platform that provides services that can be used as building blocks for developing on-demand services, explicitly built for self-driving vehicles. The services include autonomous vehicle routing, estimated time of arrival (ETA) calculations, dispatch, supply positioning, multi-ride trip planning and dashboards. The company’s routing service and ETA engine are now used by several mobility service companies to provide on-demand transportation.
Kitty Hawk is an electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft startup that aims to make air taxis a reality. The company takes a pro-environment stance, and is looking to push its air taxi solution in cities that are congested and desperately need a way to ease the pressure of its roads. The company has also designed a solo VTOL aircraft that can be utilized for personal needs.
Uber Advanced Technologies Group, the autonomous-driving technology arm of Uber Technologies Inc., is looking to improve the future of mobility with self-driving vehicles that could make transport more sustainable and safe. The company’s vision is to make roads more navigable, to push people towards adopting shared transport, and to make transportation more affordable for everyone.
Mapbox is a location data platform for mobile and web applications that provides the building blocks to add location features like maps, search and navigation into any experience a user creates. The company touches more than 300 million people every month through the applications that are built over its API, with companies like Lonely Planet, Snapchat, Weather.com and Lyft powered by Mapbox.
Boom is making supersonic passenger travel into reality by developing an airliner called the Overture that travels at twice the speed of sound. Though the aircraft is much faster than a regular passenger flight, Overture’s carbon footprint would be similar to flying in international business class today – all at a comparable price point. This apart, Overture is designed to accommodate next-generation sustainable alternative fuels.
Featuring executive talent poached from Google and Uber, this Silicon Valley start-up has carved out a niche with autonomous taxis in private settings, retirement communities in particular. Unlike many of its self-driving competitors, Voyage has actual customers, serving residents in The Villages, the largest retirement community in the world. To date, the team has raised around $20 million.
Its stock price may be stumbling, but the ride-sharing giant’s March 29 public offering nevertheless marks a major triumph for Lyft, which beat arch-competitor Uber in the race to go public and helped shift the ride-hailing industry from a private gig economy business into a formidable Wall Street player. Questions remain whether the tech-transport pioneer can leverage the momentum into profitability.
Formerly known as Lime Bike, Lime in February phased out its electric bikes in name and practice, replacing the two-wheelers with scooters in cities (where they are allowed), or halting service altogether. Scooters are getting a mixed reception from regulators, but adoption rates are high and venture firms are bullish. In February Menlo Park venture firm IVP, helped lead a $310 million round of funding valuing Lime at $2.4 billion.
Founded in 2016 by Google, Apple and Baidu veterans, the Palo Alto start-up is creating high-definition (HD) maps to help self-driving cars move around. Goldman Sachs pegs the value of the HD map industry at $9.4 billion by 2025, one reason why Deep Map has attracted high profile investors including Generation Investment Management Nvidia, Bosch and Andreessen Horowitz.
Tech companies have been working for years on autonomous technology for cars. Founded in 2017, Shone aims to bring that artificial intelligence savvy to ocean freighters. Its NVIDIA GPU-powered software is now deployed on several CMA CGM cargo ships in pilot tests to help with perception, navigation and control for ship captains. The start-up has so far raised around $4.2 million.
A controversial leader in bringing new technologies to passenger cars (albeit a bit behind the curve in the self-driving truck market), Tesla announced on April 3 that its new “full self-driving computer” for cars is in production, and on April 19 will demonstrate the technology to investors.The event will include test drives and aims to provide an in-depth look at Tesla’s self-driving vehicle progress, which has faced criticism for being more hype than reality.
The Latin American delivery app hit unicorn status last fall, becoming only the second Colombian start-up to top the $1 billion mark. The three-year-old start-up targets restaurants and groceries but also carries products from retailers, including pharmacies and office supply stores. Its growth plan targets new markets and new products, such as financial services and payment processing.
In December 2018 the secretive Silicon Valley start-up became the first company to win approval in California to provide transportation services in self-driving vehicles. It is also the only autonomous vehicle tech firm led by a woman – Aicha Evans, formerly Intel’s chief strategy officer, took over as CEO on February 26. Zoox’ long-term plan is to operate an autonomous ride-hailing service. To date it has raised more than $750 million in venture funding.
What with millions of drones expected to hit the skies in the coming years, collisions would seem inevitable. This Utah-based “counter drone” startup is developing technology that actively detects and removes drones that pose a threat to human life and infrastructure. Fortem has raised $15 million in a Series A round with participation by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, the aerospace giant’s investment arm.
Fueled by the venture capital arms of Intel, Toyota, JetBlue and the Pentagon, Joby is one of many start-ups competing in the autonomous air taxi space, utilizing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology. Joby Aviation’s S4 aircraft carries four passengers with an intended range of 150 miles on a single charge. The mobility system could be used as an urban transportation service, or a tactical defense operator.
Founded in Estonia in 2014 by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, the autonomous delivery start-up features six-wheeled robots packed with nine cameras and ultrasonic sensors. The robots can carry up to 20 pounds and travel at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. Starship has inked multiple deals in the past year – with DoorDash, the food service giant Compass Group on Intuit’s Mountain View premises, Northern Arizona University and George Mason University’s Fairfax campus.
The app-based grocery delivery service came under fire this year over poor treatment of workers, and subsequently reversed course on a policy of confiscating workers’ tips to achieve a designated hourly pay rate. Speculation is now running high that the $7 billion company will eventually launch its own retail offering – founder Apoorva Mehta was working for Amazon when he came up with the idea, and the Instacart could easily take advantage of data and knowledge gleaned from its partnerships with some of the largest grocery retailers in the country.
Yet another Google spinout, robotics company Nuro made a big splash this year after landing a $940 million investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund in one of the biggest recent self-driving deals. The company’s toaster-like robots have been delivering groceries via a partnership with Kroger in Arizona, with expanded service coming to Texas this spring. The company has also licensed its self-driving technology to autonomous trucking company Ike.
The Boring Company
The Elon Musk startup has come a long way for a company that started as a joke in 2016. The Boring Company has already constructed a 1.14 mile tunnel (cost: $10 million) in Los Angeles County and started developing an all-electric tunnel boring machine. The Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur has invested more than $100 million into his latest venture, which employs more than 80 workers to design and construct underground tunnels that would enable Musk’s “hyperloop” technology – a magnetically levitated vehicle, similar to a train, that operates within a vacuum. Future customers include Chicago-O’Hare Airport’s high-speed transport line.