EDGE Making FreightWaves: Chattanooga company drives toward billion-dollar goal

EDGE Making FreightWaves: Chattanooga company drives toward billion-dollar goal

November 1st, 2018 by Mike Pare in EDGE

At a bank of computer terminals, Freightwaves CEO Craig Fuller talks about data and trucking logistics that the Chattanooga based company sells to its clients.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Making FreightWaves

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FreightWaves Chief Executive Officer Craig Fuller says a friend of his was looking for specific information about the freight market, but he couldn't find much on what was happening.

"That inspired this business," says Fuller about the 2-year-old startup company that focuses on freight market data analytics and which he and its backers hope will grow into a billion-dollar-a-year company within five years.

Fuller, 39, says the freight market is a big one — an estimated 30 percent larger than the fossil fuel industry. But, he says, there wasn't anyone offering data services of the kind that his company provides.


Born: Chattanooga

Age: 39

Education: Baylor University

Work: CEO of FreightWaves

Personal: Married, two children

Quote: “Our goal is to understand economic cycles every single day.”

"That's what we do," Fuller says about the company that also provides news and commentary, innovation engagement and risk management tools to the transportation and logistics industry.

Fuller says Chattanooga is the right place to house his company because of both the city's trucking and logistics history and future.

"It's a natural place to recruit," he says.

The business has about 50 employees but is rapidly growing with plans to add about 260 more people within the next couple of years.

"We had two people who [recently] moved from Chicago. We're recruiting a lot of people from out of state," he says.

Chattanooga is home to two national trucking giants — U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport — and several venture funds and businesses which specialize in warehousing and logistics, including Kenco Logistics, Coyote, Steam Logistics, Reliance Partners, Workhound, Locatible and the Dynamo Fund.

Fuller, the son of U.S. Xpress co-founder Max Fuller, says that freight companies need better data and news along with insights related to that information. The insights help brokers price freight more accurately, allow carriers to improve routing decisions and benchmarking and permit shippers to project capacity availability, according to FreightWaves.

"It's a unique offering," Fuller says, adding that the data side of the business "is growing fast. That's what the investors are focused on."

This summer, FreightWaves announced it had raised another $13 million in new capital as it plans to double its workforce to about 100 employees by year's end. FreightWaves has raised about $18.4 million over its first two years, placing it among Chattanooga's top startups.

"Like our first two rounds of funding, this round was oversubscribed with high demand coming from both incumbents and new participants," says Fuller. "We chose the funds carefully and placed a lot of emphasis on their understanding of both freight and the financials markets."

The San Francisco-based venture firm 8VC participated in FreightWaves' seed funding and has supported the company's mission of creating a market analytics platform and freight futures market for surface freight transportation.

"We look forward to working with Craig and his team on building a billion-dollar company that will bring transparency and risk management solutions to the global freight industry," says Jake Medwell, a partner in 8VC, whose early stage firm led the latest investment round.

Fuller says revenues are expected to jump from 700 to 800 percent year over year in 2018.

He believes FreightWaves has no direct competition as its services trucking companies, freight brokers and other businesses. His company provides more near-time and real-time information and typically offers year-long subscriptions.

"That hadn't been done in the past," Fuller says. "The industry is changing. People are looking for answers. We're helping tell the story about the market."

Fuller says the company is bringing in Ph.D-level economists and scientists to Chattanooga as it expands efforts to interpret data and forecast where the market is heading.

"Our goal is to understand economic cycles every single day," the company CEO says.

While currently headquartered at 1500 Chestnut St. on Chattanooga's Southside, plans are to move into new office space at 412 Market St. downtown.

"We're out of space," Fuller says about the company. "In the freight business, people want to be part of something new and distinct."

FreightWaves was the winner of venture capital firm Revolution's Rise of the Rest pitch competition held in Chattanooga this spring. The competition spearheaded by AOL founder Steve Case gave FreightWaves a $100,000 investment.

J.D Vance, the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund's managing partner, says FreightWaves is building on Chattanooga's legacy as a center of logistics innovation.

"It is yet another great example of a company outside of Silicon Valley successfully leveraging local industry expertise," he says.