Dynamo accelerator, venture fund brings Lamp Post Group back to its trucking industry roots
Locatible is a platform that allows logistics and operations leaders to pinpoint the location of their assets within 5 centimeters, allowing them to gain valuable real-time insights around workflow, asset optimization, workforce efficiency, and more
Currently booking $two million a year from a single healthcare client.
Based in Dublin, Ireland
Founders: Rónán Ó’Cóigligh, Peter Kortvel
Shipamax provides an end-to-end digital brokerage for bulk freight ships carrying agriculture commodities, metals, gasoline products and other carbons. Leveraging real-time data around pricing, asset utilization, and more, shippers can seamlessly book a ship to suit their needs
Currently in the process of brokering first load of bulk freight.
Based in London
Founders: Jenna Brown, Fabian Blaicher
Sirenum is the world’s first fully automated staff management solution, first conceived as a result of the needs posed by the 2012 Olympics in London. Sirenum leverages cloud and mobile technology in order to transform the way organizations connect with their staff, increase the engagement of part-time, temporary and mobile workers, and improve health and safety compliance in highly regulated industries
Currently has 10,000-plus subscribers on the platform.
Based in London
Founders: Ben Rubin, Josh Pines
SKUPOS is a two-sided network marketplace for the retail industry, providing store owners and distributors with a clear view into inventory, ordering, delivery, and critical timed opportunities. Inventory is automated with POS integrations and orders are automatically placed when minimums are met. Distributors have access to all in-network inventory levels, providing a one-push campaign for increased sales and quicker inventory turns.
Currently running a pilot of 200-plus stores in the Bay Area.
Based in San Francisco
Founders: Jake Bolling, Linh Nguyen, Mike Glassman
Skydrop is a platform that connects local, independent delivery agents with small businesses that need last mile pickup or delivery services in Latin America
Fulfills 1,100-plus deliveries/wk in Monterrey, Mexico. Expansion to Mexico City, pending.
Based in Monterrey, Mexico
Founders: Armando Solbes Argüello, Arnoldo Rodriguez, Tavo Zambrano
Slope.io From fulfillment to automation, Slope.io provides specialized, software-driven logistics services for companies operating in the clinical research space.
Currently profitable and provides CROs savings of $50,000 per trial (Phase 1/2 drugs have 10+ trials).
Based in Mobile, Alabama and Chattanooga
Founders: Rust Felix, Michael Felix
Stord is reinventing the warehousing industry with an on-demand service for flexible and affordable warehousing. Stord connects businesses in need of warehousing and storage solutions to excess warehousing capacity to help save time, money, and hassle.
Based in Atlanta
Founders: Sean Henry, Jacob Boudreau
SynapseMX is a real-time, mobile-first platform that allows teams to plan, track, and accomplish aircraft maintenance from anywhere to limit the amount of time aircraft are out of service.
Based in Atlanta
Founders: Shane Ballman
Wise Systems is an enterprise software solution that simplifies last-mile delivery. Through real-time updates to drivers, fleet managers and customers, Wise Systems increases efficiency, transparency and reliability and decreases costs.
Clients experiencing a 80 percent reduction in late deliveries.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founders: Chazz Sims, Jemel Derbali, Ali Kamil, Layla, Shaikley
WorkHound is a software platform built to help carriers keep drivers and improve the truck driver experience. Truck drivers use their smartphones to share feedback and ideas with the carrier, which WorkHound aggregates and turns into actionable insights to help manage and retain drivers.
Based in Des Moines, IA
Founders: Max Farrell, Andrew Kirpalani
Source: Dynamo Accelerator
The Lamp Post Group's founders went back to their roots when they launched the Dynamo Accelerator, a three-month program that helps tech startup companies in the logistics, transportation and supply chain business, and the program's sibling, an $18 million Dynamo venture capital fund.
The trucking logistics business made millionaires of Ted Alling, Barry Large and Allan Davis.
They were in their mid-30s in 2014 when they sold their Chattanooga-based trucking logistics startup, Access America Transport, to Coyote Logistics, which was sold a year later to United Parcel Service for $1.8 billion.
Flush with the money, the trio focused on the Lamp Post Group, a business incubator headquartered in the second floor of the historic Loveman's department store building in downtown Chattanooga. It offered business startups working space, back-office support and early-stage funding in exchange for a 20 percent ownership stake.
Lamp Post is based on the model that launched Access America, which for years was housed in a back room of Key-James Brick, a business owned by Large's father, James H. Large. Complimentary office space, consistent mentorship and access to cash helped launch the third-party logistics company that doubled its sales nearly every year for 12 years.
Initially, Lamp Post Group helped guide a number of what might be called "sexy" startups, such as Chattanooga Whiskey distillery and advertising firm Fancy Rhino. Recently, Lamp Post backed the nonprofit group WayPaver Labs, which describes itself as "a serious effort to establish a settlement on the moon within the next two decades."
But Lamp Post Group came back down to earth with Dynamo.
The Dynamo Accelerator chose 10 teams in the logistics, transportation and supply chain business from a pool of 120 applicants to take part in the three-month program. More than half of the teams in the program are already profitable. Some are already established and now trying to overcome scale and funding issues.
"They want to invest in more unsexy businesses, the venture capitalists do," Alling said in early October after Dynamo Demo Day, when representatives from the startup companies took turns onstage at the Tivoli Theatre to make sales pitches to potential investors.
Transportation and logistics are "less sexy" subjects for innovation and technology, Lamp Post Group's founders say, so many other accelerator programs cast aside companies trying to break in.
But those who work with tech startups insist that the logistics of booking, tracking and delivering orders is the backbone of their businesses.
"I think we underestimate the actual value of logistics," says Gary Vaynerchuk, an author, internet personality and head of VaynerMedia. "A lot of the marketing guys get a lot of flair and hype, but I think it's time that the business world really recognizes the backbone of the future economy is logistics."
Dynamo leaders believe their program is the only logistics- and transportation-focused accelerator in the country. Most of the funding came from Chattanooga-based individuals and investment entities, several of which committed $1 million or more. The new venture capital fund raised 50 percent more than its original target and is one of the biggest capital raises ever for a VC fund in Chattanooga.
'Great vibe' in Chattanooga
Dynamo participant Locatible plans to more from Dublin, Ireland, and open its North American headquarters in Chattanooga.
"There's a great vibe here," CEO Ronan O'Cóigligh said of Chattanooga.
O'Cóigligh said his startup company uses a magnetometer, a device that senses the earth's magnetic field and is used in smartphones, to track the location of items inside warehouses within 5 centimeters in real time.
Locatible can save companies millions of dollars over time, O'Cóigligh said, since lost items in a huge warehouse can delay trucks from leaving and cause other problems.
Locatible already is used in about 16 million square feet of warehouses, including those used by Yeti coolers, Labatt beer and Whirlpool appliances, he said, and another 23 million square feet are in the works.
O'Cóigligh, who studied to be a marine biologist, got the idea to use magnetometers to track a warehouse's inventory one night while watching a nature show about whales being able to travel for thousands of miles and then return to their precise starting point using the earth's magnetic field.
'Trucking just the start'
WorkHound CEO Max Farrell is relocating a portion of his business from Des Moines, Iowa, to Chattanooga, thanks to the Dynamo.
WorkHound lets long-haul truckers vent their on-the-job frustrations anonymously via smartphone. WorkHound's software compiles and analyzes complaints, so companies can do a better job of retaining truckers — a big money-saver in an industry that Farrell said sees 95 percent of drivers quit their job annually to work for another company. With some two million drivers on the road, employee turnover costs the trucking industry $15.5 billion, annually, he said.
"Trucking is just the start," said Farrell, who sees a market for his "employee engagement software" in other professions, such as nursing.
Capitalizing on convenience
Skupos, a San Francisco-based startup that began nine months ago to serve the convenience store industry, also is opening an office in Chattanooga. Jake Bolling, co-founder and CEO of Skupos, said the business has contracts to serve more than 200 stores in the San Francisco Bay area, and the company expects to expand to more than 1,000 convenience stores in the next few months.
"The Lamp Post guys are obviously great, not just in the way they know the industry, but in how they have drawn the community in and brought great mentors and programs together to help connect these startup businesses with customers and investors," Bolling said. "Chattanooga is really the crossroads for a lot of the logistics industry."
Santosh Sankar, the director of the 12-week Dynamo project, said the accelerator program was born last year "with the audacious goal of supporting exceptional founders focused on transforming an industry worth over $4 trillion."
"We're working to put Chattanooga on the map as the capital of logistics, supply chain and transportation technology," Sankar said. Dynamo is partnered with GE Ventures, Kenco and Ryder.
Today, two of the largest trucking companies in America, U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport, are based in Chattanooga. Alling said Dynamo will draw on the depth of transportation and logistics professionals and veterans produced by the rich history of transportation in Chattanooga and marry it to the city's more recent start-up culture and spirit of innovation.
"[Dynamo participants] just can't find this type of entrepreneurship, or these types of dollars, on the West Coast or in New York or in London," he said.