Baton driving out first-/last-mile costs for long-haul drivers

The 2021 FreightTech 25 welcomed several newcomers to the ranking of the most innovative and disruptive companies in the freight industry, and trucking technology startup Baton was one of them.

Landing at No. 13, San Francisco-based Baton makes software that optimizes the first and final mile of long-haul truck routes using a network of 24/7 drop zones and local drivers. Truckers drop off and pick up their cargo at the secure zones, which are near major metropolitan areas.

Founders Andrew Berberick and Nate Robert estimate that Baton’s software and drop-off service can increase carriers’ asset utilization by 25%-50%, improving efficiency for fleets while lowering overall costs for shippers.

“The approach we’re taking is very unique and has the potential to fundamentally change long-haul trucking,” Robert told FreightWaves, in commenting on making this year’s FreightTech 25. “But more importantly the hard work our team has put in and the support of our advisors and investors is what has gotten us this far.”

One of Baton’s most recent successes has been virtually eliminating dwell times for CRST International, one of the largest privately held U.S. transportation companies. Since the Baton-CRST partnership began in August, CRST drivers in Southern California have increased their on-time service performance to over 98% on more than 270 loads transported in the region, according to the companies. The carrier is now able to turn around loads in no more than 30 minutes — an 83% decrease from the industry average dwell time of three hours, they emphasized.

Berberick pointed out that this year’s pandemic caused significant volatility in freight markets.

Since August in particular, “the market has consistently been at an all-time high, and it’s not letting up anytime soon,” Berberick stated recently.

“We’re seeing massively more demand than supply can keep up with, and therefore trucking companies are rejecting 26.5% of loads right now. Not only is Baton freeing up long-haul drivers to take on more freight and reduce rejections, but we’re also helping companies like CRST go after more loads by grabbing freight in advance so their long-haul drivers can pick it up when convenient for them. We’re here to help bridge that gap.”

Baton closed a $3.3 million seed round of funding in November 2019. The funding round was led by investment firm 8VC and includes commercial real estate giant Prologis and SVAngel as investors. (Both 8VC and Prologis are investors in FreightWaves as well.) The company currently operates in Los Angeles and Atlanta and plans expand into Dallas and Chicago next year, Baton noted in November.

The FreightTech 25 were selected from among FreightWaves’ FreightTech 100 list of companies. Ballots were sent to an 80-member panel of venture capitalists, startup founders, analysts and large company executives within logistics. Each member ranked the top 25 companies on a 1- to 25-point basis, with companies generating the most points making it to the FreightTech 25. Votes were audited by accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM).

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