Posted on Friday, Dec 13th 2019
Freightwise was No. 2 on the Inc. 5000 for 2018. Amazing bootstrapping story from Freightwise CIO/CTO Richard Hoehn.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s
start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you
born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Richard Hoehn: I grew up in Switzerland. I did an apprenticeship as a machinist – the tool and die maker. After three years, I decided I wanted to go back to school and learn more about computers and technology.
that time, there was an opening with a company where I did my apprenticeship in
to go to the United States. This was in the mid-90’s. It was a dream job to
come over here and work with equipment for manufacturing.
I came over
here and went to university. I did a Bachelors in Computer Engineering. I did
my graduate work in electronics and computer science. Later on, I went to
business school and got an MBA.
Sramana Mitra: Where
was that? Richard Hoehn: I got my MBA from
Vanderbilt University. Sramana Mitra: What
timeframe are we talking when you were finishing your MBA? Richard Hoehn: I finished my MBA in
2009. Sramana Mitra: What
happens next? Richard Hoehn: I met one of the
founding partners during business school. We always said we wanted to start a
business together; we just didn’t know what. We’re both pretty
entrepreneurial-minded. We went our own ways in 2009 and stayed in touch. I did
quite a few startups and worked for big companies.
One day, I
was on an airplane from Nashville to Dallas. Chris was on the flight too. We
started talking again about wanting to do something together. He had this idea
of starting Freightwise – this new idea of how to manage freight and provide
value to clients that needed a strong software platform. That’s how we kicked
Sramana Mitra: What
was the concept that you were kicking around when you decided to get into this? Richard Hoehn: It was simple. The
concept was that most of our competition was working on older platforms. They
have been around a long time. We felt like our competitors were not trying to
innovate. Right now, we have everything on the web with the SaaS model that
makes it easy to use.
We said we
need to leapfrog to a new way of working with these platforms. We realized
that, over time, the younger people will be doing those jobs. They will be the
managers of the future. We need to build the platform that a 20-year-old would
feel comfortable using.
Sramana Mitra: So far,
you’ve talked about architecture, delivery models, usage models. You haven’t
really talked about functionality of what this platform enables the customers
to do? Richard Hoehn: In essence, our
clients use our platform to make better shipping decisions. What our platform
does very well is, if you tell us what you’re shipping, how big it is, how
heavy it is, our platform tries to figure out what the best method is to ship
this product. We have a very sophisticated rating engine that calculates
different ways of going about transporting commodities from A to B. It’s not
very sexy. Sramana Mitra: We
don’t care about sexy; we care about the fact that you solve a real problem
with technology. That’s the essence of this platform.
Our discussion continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . 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