Why Convoy’s Dan Lewis expects digital freight to become mainstream within the year – TechCrunch


“The industry will contract differently”

Dan Lewis, co-founder and CEO of digital freight company Convoy, didn’t start his business because he had a deep and abiding passion for trucking. At least not at first.

The executive has a background in strategy and management consulting that evolved into a career in product development for cutting-edge companies like Google and Amazon. But when he was struck with the urge to start a business, he researched the money-making industries in the world and then, using AngelList, saw how many companies were trying to disrupt those industries. .

His search revealed thousands of companies that worked in industries ranging from telecommunications and fashion to video games and food. Billions of dollars were invested in trucking each year, but fewer than 30 startups showed interest in the field.

“I saw a huge opportunity and few people chased it,” Lewis told TechCrunch.


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Lewis and Grant Goodale co-founded Convoy in 2015 and since then have brought on a string of high-profile investors. A few years after Convoy was founded, in a watershed moment, the company got its Series B from YC Combinator’s Continuity Fund, a fund typically aimed at early-stage companies.

Most recently, Convoy secured a $260 million Series E, led by Baillie Gifford and T. Rowe Price, which brought the company’s valuation to $3.8 billion. To date, the company has raised nearly $1 billion to scale its platform, which connects the fragmented network of shippers, carriers and brokers across the United States.

Speed ​​is a great characteristic of building a startup, and it’s also a great characteristic not to get watered down, because you can show immense progress and then rise to a higher valuation based on that. Dan Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Convoy

We sat down with Lewis to talk about the importance of being customer-obsessed when starting a business, why early-stage compensation packages can help you avoid diluting your business too much in future fundraisers and how to set limits on the trade-offs you’ll make as a founder.

The following interview, which has been edited for brevity and clarity, is part of an ongoing series that focuses on the founders of the transportation industry.

TC: YC’s investment in your Series B was notable because Convoy at the time was outside the Continuity Fund range of portfolio companies. What do you think made Convoy stand out?

Lewis: The YC culture is really curious, so they didn’t feel like they had to stay in any particular lane, especially with the Continuity Fund, which was for early-stage growth companies. When we met, I think the breakthrough was just a single story. People don’t usually realize how fragmented, large and disconnected the trucking industry is. So YC considered this a major disruptive game.

We were excited to work with them because they are an incubator and accelerator, so their whole system is designed to help founders succeed. They had so many unique programs that helped us succeed and grow that I had never seen any other investors at the time.

You mentioned that a good way to decide the direction of a startup is to compare industries where there is a lot of money with companies that are trying to disrupt those industries. Is this still a good method?

I think this is a very good method. It would be interesting to put together a list of industries and see how much money is being spent on those industries and then see how many companies are tackling those industries. AngelList is a great resource for finding the newest and most innovative companies seeking these spaces.

Before starting the company, I wrote this Quora article which went viral and was published by Forbes. It was an answer to the question: How to come up with a startup idea. I wrote this very detailed theory, basically a playbook. So when I was going to start my own business, I thought to myself, I should eat my own dog food. I went back and used my own process, and now I can say it’s believable because it works.

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