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July 21, 2020 9:15 AM, EDT

SmartHop, Tech Platform for Smaller Carriers, Secures $4.5M Seed Funding

 Joaquin Brillembourg, Guillermo Garcia, Miguel SucreSmartHop founders Joaquin Brillembourg (from left), Guillermo Garcia and Miguel Sucre (SmartHop)

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Dispatch technology developer SmartHop has closed $4.5 million in early funding, the company announced July 21.

Designed for smaller carriers, the SmartHop platform offers a suite of tools to assist in everything from bookings to office tasks with the goal of offering fleets a complete package to help run their business and compete with larger trucking companies.

“We’re a business that gives all the tools and resources that a small trucking company or owner-operator needs to be successful,” Guillermo Garcia, co-founder and CEO of SmartHop, told Transport Topics. “We consider our customers as part of our capacity. So we’re this new type of trucking company.”

Garcia and his team started developing the platform last year. Equal Ventures is a seed-stage venture fund that helped lead the financing round, which led to the $4.5 million investment. Greycroft and Las Olas VC were also among the venture capital firms that participated.

“Guillermo and the SmartHop team offer a competitive advantage for small carriers by utilizing the latest technologies and tactics to provide truckers everywhere with the opportunity to level up their livelihood,” Rick Zullo, co-founder and partner at Equal Ventures, said in a statement.

Garcia noted that during the company’s early days he was able to meet the right combination of people from the trucking industry, the technology sector and investors.

“I think it was very interesting when we started building this technology and talking to potential customers,” Garcia said. “We went through Techstars in New York City. It’s one of the top accelerator programs. That led us to tapping into a network of investors.”

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SmartHop provides load booking, end-to-end back-office support and above-market rates per mile through its tech-enabled platform, it said. The service also promises to help smaller carriers optimize their loads, plan smarter routes and grow their businesses.

“We want our customers to focus on driving and maintaining the trucks,” Garcia said. “That’s what they know how to do, that’s what they love, and we handle the rest. All the hard work from the back office and making their relationship with brokers.”

Office tasks the platform can handle include reporting, invoicing, finances and customer service. Garcia said the platform is targeted to operations that have one to 10 trucks.

“Every customer that we have on average has three to four trucks,” he said. “They don’t have any buying power but pay retail rates on their bottom line — think about fuel and insurance. So as we scale we’re able to drive down costs based on volume.”

He added, “It’s not a matching platform. It’s a platform that helps with end-to-end management for the small trucking companies.”

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SmartHop is also trying to create a nationwide network of carriers to connect truckers with guaranteed above-market rates.

“We are able to sit down with large-scale brokers and negotiate on behalf of hundreds of truckers instead of being a one-man show,” Garcia said. “The same thing with their bottom line and the services that they use — we are able to negotiate based on scale.”

He added, “They do what they love, they do it well, and we’re kind of like their COOs. We handle all the information that they need for them to decide what’s best for their business.”

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