By Matt Fain
Recently I had the opportunity to be a guest on Chris Jolly’s Coffee With the Freight Coach podcast. I’ve been a fan of Chris for a while, so this was an exciting opportunity for me.
But I didn’t realize Chris would help me isolate the moment when I entered the warehouse space without ever having intended to do so.
As I was telling Chris about my entrepreneurial journey, we were covering the period when I was working the freight side of the industry, in the late 2010s, traveling the country using my own sprinters and box trucks. This was a tough time to be on the road so much because I had a young child at home – as did my business partner Derek Loftus – but it was paying the bills and that’s what entrepreneurs are always looking to do.
So maybe I was in too much of a “say yes” mode when one of my largest clients called to see if I could help procure some warehouse space. This was certainly not the business I was in but you always want to provide the highest value possible to a client.
How hard could this be? Google is your friend, right? I could surely find what the client needed in no time.
That’s what I thought, until I actually tried it. The first thing I realized was that tech-enabled 4PLs dominated the search. I had to scroll several pages before I actually found a provider. But the information turned up by the search didn’t provide nearly enough information to tell me if it was a match for my client.
So I sent e-mails. I got on the phone. I worked through the maze of people to find the right ones to talk to – not that it was easy – and a full three weeks later I finally found a warehouse for my client.
Why would I want to do this again?
And yet I came away from the experience stuck with this nagging thought: There has to be a better way. After all, if you’re looking for a house to buy, you don’t go to Google. You go to real estate sites designed specifically to help you search for homes, and to do so by specified criteria that direct you to exactly what you want.
Why shouldn’t the warehouse industry have a digital tool like that?
The only answer was that no one had created it yet and this is when the entrepreneurs in Derek and me said we simply had to do this.
As we set about to create that digital marketplace that was missing from the warehouse space, we had one crucial conviction that drove us: We had to make a change in the industry. We had to use technology to make a positive impact. And if we did that, we were confident we would be able to monetize it.
All of that has proven true, of course, and today pop.capacity is making the very market impact we wanted. Shippers are able to search for warehouse space as easily as homebuyers look for their dream homes.
And they’re able to form direct relationships with warehouse providers, because – as much as I want technology to be everywhere in this business – I know it can never replace relationships. At its best, technology facilitates relationships, which is why pop.capacity connects shippers and carriers to warehouse providers and then gets out of the way and lets them form their own direct relationship.
But I can’t help but smile as I remember the fact that this all happened because I – ever the entrepreneur – said yes to a request I could have easily said no to.
So often, this is where impact-making ideas come from.