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Patrick Visintainer, co-founder & CEO of REPOWR, was working on the operations side of the trucking and transportation industry for a large asset-based fleet right out of college when he first got the idea to create a collaborative logistics marketplace and digital-leasing platform focused on bringing visibility and value to underutilized transportation equipment.
The company recently closed a $4.2 million seed round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, the growth and venture arm of Koch Industries Inc., with participation from Perot Jain Alliance and a number of strategic angel investors.
Harbert alumnus Patrick Visintainer's company provides on-demand visibility of available trucking assets—an unmatched value to an essential industry.
How it all started
A 2015 graduate from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business with a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration, Logistics, Materials and Supply Chain Management, Visintainer was managing trailer pools – “getting my hands dirty” as he describes it – when he noticed the tremendous amount of underutilized fleet assets and the lack of collaborative asset data among logistics companies.
One shipment may have multiple stakeholders from shippers, trucking companies, drivers, brokerages, customers, etc., and each stakeholder’s siloed information becomes its source-of-truth. As he saw it, these disconnects contributed to an astonishing amount of underutilized fleet equipment, which in-turn causes unnecessary downtime and delayed shipments.
REPOWR co-founder Spencer Ware, who graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Risk Management & Insurance and was working in the commercial insurance business, saw the same opportunity to unlock the potential value of underutilized transportations assets – but from a slightly different angle.
As Ware managed insurance programs for fleets, he also noticed how underutilized equipment impacted transport companies’ bottom line. Large fleets struggled with driver shortages and market volatility, which led to more and more idle equipment sitting unused. Smaller fleets struggled to navigate market volatility and the monthly costs associated with owning assets, contributing to many bankruptcies.
The common factor in each of their early career experiences was the realization that the commercial transportation industry at large could be much more collaborative. They envisioned an efficient logistics marketplace where logistics companies could monetize underused transportation assets and seamlessly make them available to others in the market who might need them. Those in the transportation world know, “if the wheels aren’t turning, nobody’s making money.”
Change is the only constant
The volatility of the freight market is well-known – wide swings in supply and demand are all-too common. The crippling disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years only amplified the complexity and impact of this long-standing pattern of uncertainty and change. How shippers and other supply chain companies deal with these changes is another story, according to Visintainer.
“When business is good, everybody goes out and buys equipment and then they hope they can find the drivers to operate that equipment,” said Visintainer. “When the market turns south, many are left with transportation assets on their books that they can’t put to good use but still have to make payments on. That’s no way to manage a business over time.”
The REPOWR platform, through its shared-asset visibility and reservation management technology, allows users to book underused trucks and trailers within minutes – a level of accessibility that is expected to be a boon to supply chain operators and their customers alike.
“The digital community and network marketplace we’re building enables transportation companies to efficiently source equipment capacity, re-defining the way they rent or lease equipment,” continued Visintainer. “Companies with excess equipment capacity can share the availability of what they have sitting unused with those who may need them. On the other end of the spectrum, operators who need that equipment now have on-demand access to these critical operational assets nearby.”
Funding the growth
Visintainer and Ware founded the company in January of 2021 and immediately began testing the market – making calls, learning how people find and source transportation equipment. This was at the height of the pandemic and supply chains across the globe were struggling to meet demand from customers – most of them operating on a just-in-time inventory management model. They found that very few leasing companies had a plan for how to manage the backlogs of equipment they had on-hand in such a fluid and uncertain market environment.
Harbert alumnus Patrick Visintainer (right) and his REPOWR co-founder Spencer Ware
“We started making cold calls to owners of equipment – delivery companies, trucking companies, freight forwarders, etc., and most of them thought we were crazy,” said Visintainer. “But with Spencer's background in insurance and liability, we were able to quickly address everyone’s first-reaction and make people feel at ease with a sharing-economy model. We created opportunities for large, asset-based fleets to rebalance their trailer pools and turn an operating expense into new revenue. We took the data collected from our first few customers and convinced dozens of other top-100 fleets to join the REPOWR platform.”
REPOWR raised $475,000 in June of 2021, which the company used to hire more engineers to better define exactly what they needed to build out.
“When we made those hires on the engineering side, we were able to build out a product that was truly automated and digitized,” said Visintainer. “We kept growing and then hired a few sales and business development folks.”
Moving to the next level
Fast forward to today, and REPOWR continues to expand at a rapid pace. At the end of their first year in business, the company notched $500,000 in business. So far in 2022, that number has grown to more than four times that amount.
“So far, we’ve onboarded 12 of the top 25 largest asset-based fleets,” noted Visintainer, “mainly through word-of-mouth and organic network growth. Once we onboard one large fleet, we gained exposure into the rest of their network. We've completed 30 API integrations with existing transportation management software providers, which unlocks more collaboration and value for the REPOWR network."
Giving credit where credit is due
Patrick emphasizes that a key component of REPOWR’s initial success can be traced back to his time at Auburn.
“What I truly do think is extremely important to note is the way my instructors and others at Auburn—Brian and Marcia Gibson in particular—worked to integrate corporate speakers and hands-on case studies into what we did and where we had the opportunity to work beside companies like FedEx and present our findings to them,” Visintainer pointed out. “We all got exposed to not only the shipper itself, but also to the workings of private fleets, carriers, brokers and all the other aspects of the supply chain.
Looking back, I have to say that really was quite incredible.”