Trucksters raises 8 million euros to help truckers spend more nights at home
“What is difficult in my job is that we can often get away from my family,” explains Atila, a truck driver for four years, who does not like to complain. But today, he says he has a lot less to complain about since, since November, he’s been driving for Trucksters, a Spanish startup trying to change the way freight is transported.
“Almost everything is better [with Trucksters], the team, the understanding of our work, it’s fantastic,” says Atila. The main way his life has changed, he says, is due to the startup’s relay system, which allows drivers to spend more nights at home and less time sleeping on the road.
Trucksters is today announcing an €8m extension to its Series A ride (it announced a €6.3m increase in August 2021), bringing the round to €14.3m. Investors included Kibo Ventures, Amplifier, Bonsai Partners, Axel Springer & Porsche APX Joint Venture, Big Sur Ventures, Metavallon VC and The Valley VC. Previous angel investors Sacha Michaud, co-founder of Glovo, and Juan Urdiales, co-CEO of Job & Talent, also joined the round.
Although there are many companies in Europe dealing with logistics such as German unicorns Forto and Sender, few have focused their solutions on the people at the heart of the industry: the drivers. This is particularly timely given the shortage of drivers in Europe.
How it works?
Trucksters is changing the way trucking traditionally works with a relay system. This means that, rather than driving a truck loaded with goods to its destination, a Trucksters driver will meet a colleague (who is picking up a load in the opposite direction) halfway at a relay point, exchange loads, and then will come back .
Co-founder Gabor Balogh told Sifted how he and his team came up with the idea, while stopping at a gas station during a long drive.
“It was a huge parking lot full of trucks, I think it was the first time we really realized how the drivers lived. Sleeping inside their truck, we saw another one cooking his dinner in front of his truck, he had a Spanish plate. He told us his story, how he spent months on the road that he slept in the truck that he did not see his family, it was quite hard, “says- he.
Balogh and his team got back in their car and, seeing all the trucks driving in opposite directions, started coming up with the idea for Trucksters.
“We started noticing that there were a lot of trucks, going back and forth, on the same route,” he recalls. “The initial thought was, ‘Okay, let’s switch drivers, so they can meet in the middle of a route and then go home. “”
Balogh and his team founded Trucksters in 2018, and today, rather than switching drivers, the system works by switching trailers between the truck’s “tractors” (the front part of the truck that drives). Trip planning is done entirely by an algorithm, with directions then sent to a driver app, letting them know where to go.
The startup employs its own drivers and has its own fleet of 96 trucks and currently runs relay routes in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. It’s also being trialled in the UK and hopes to expand to Italy soon.
Balogh says Trucksters is cheaper for customers than a traditional dual-driver trucking system (where two drivers travel in a truck, allowing one to rest while the other drives). The startup achieved 6 million euros in revenue in 2021, a figure that is expected to rise to 30 million euros in 2022.
The bigger picture
Balogh says Trucksters is helping solve a big societal problem: the urgent shortage of truck drivers across Europe.
“There is a shortage of 200,000 drivers in Europe, according to statistics. And it’s something that’s not going to stop, the youngest don’t want to be drivers anymore, because of this way of life. Older drivers are retiring,” he says.
This number is should climb to 400,000 over the next four years, and although Balogh believes the Trucksters system improves the lifestyle element of driving trucks for a living, realistically it cannot solve the whole problem.
“By putting relays in the industry, you may be able to slow this trend, but we don’t think you can eliminate it. You need autonomous trucking that will arrive in 10 to 15 years,” he says.
Trucksters thinks its relay system will also be useful once self-driving trucks hit our roads. According to Balogh, this is because self-driving trucks are unlikely to be able to complete full trips, but are part of a hybrid system where loads are transferred to human-driven trucks for the start and finish. of a route.
So far, Balogh says one of the most gratifying experiences of Trucksters’ growth has been that 50% of its new truck drivers come through referrals: “That’s actually pretty powerful feedback. It means that drivers refer their trucking friends, because they trust the model.