Trendsetters: Sudu Logistics
In Amari Ruff’s previous startup business, which provided residential and commercial telecommunications installations, he learned a lot about trucking. He began that business with one truck and scaled it to 200 in less than four years before the firm was acquired.
As his fleet education progressed, he discovered a problem: small and med-ium-sized trucking companies, which average six or fewer trucks in their fleets, have a hard time getting contracts from large shippers, such as national retailers like Target and consumer products companies like Coca-Cola. For his next business, he set out to solve that problem by providing a way for smaller trucking companies to connect with those mega shippers.
He sought a partner at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to add the right technology to power his concept, and together he and Michelangelo Ho founded Sudu Logistics in 2015.
“Sudu translates to speed and tempo in Chinese,” says Ruff. “We felt like it spoke to what we do as well as to the efficiencies we bring to the logistics industry.”
At Sudu, employees collect data about truckers’ capabilities, regulatory compliance, safety ratings and scheduling preferences. Much like matchmaking sites for humans, machine algorithms match shipping customers’ freight to truckers who can potentially haul the loads. The goal is to increase route efficiencies and develop round trips that eliminate empty return loads.
Once matches are made, Sudu notifies the truckers and they have the opportunity to bid on route contracts. Currently Sudu has a network of approximately 10,000 drivers to match with shippers’ freight needs and the most expeditious routes.
“Before, truckers would have to call brokers, and it could take hours to find loads,” says Ruff. “Now, it’s seamless and eliminates all that time on the phone.”
Sudu’s focus is on minority-, women- and veteran-owned carriers, which Ruff says is an underserved market. “These companies comprise a nice portion of our [trucking] network, and we want to help them grow,” he says. “We make it easy for the truckers to do business with us because they don’t have to change the way they operate. The technology happens on the back end.”
In a fast-paced two years, Sudu has grown from two to 22 employees, and Ruff expects it soon to double in size. “We are at the tip of the iceberg of volume we could be doing,” he says. The ATDC has played a large role in Sudu’s growth, and the company has benefited from support by Engage Ventures, an ATDC-based group of major corporations that offers funds and strategic relationships to startups. Sudu is one of eight firms Engage Ventures has selected for its inaugural portfolio this year.
“It has been an amazing experience,” says Ruff, “to have access to corporations like Delta at the C-level for mentoring, tools and support. I’m also thankful to my leadership team, which is comprised of successful serial entrepreneurs. They’ve provided so much help in the technology realm.”