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Best of Bootstrapping: Freightwise Bootstraps to $33 Million

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.

At 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 Freightwise off.

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
. 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 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
. How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million
. How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana
. How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million
. Death by Overfunding
. How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+
. How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck
. TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage
. The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance
. BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering
. Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania
. Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million
. SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida
. Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Ownership Matters
. Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado
. Power2Motivate CEO Bootstraps to $80M from Canada
. Financial DNA CEO Bootstraps to $10M+ from Australia
. Big Barker CEO Bootstraps a Niche E-commerce Brand
. PrecisionLender CEO Bootstraps to Over $10M from North Carolina
. Master Bootstrappers with Over $1B in Exits
. Ultra Mobile Founder Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Bootstrapping a Two-Sided Marketplace to $10M
. Can You Bootstrap a Virtual Company to Over $5 Million?
. Capital Efficient Entrepreneurs Turn $1M into $80M
. Discussing the Journey Through Failure to Success
. From a Small Town to $12 Million
. Bootstrapping to Y Combinator and $10 Million Series A
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace to Over $10 Million
. Freightwise Bootstraps to $33 Million
. Bootstraps First to $5M ARR, Raises $10M Later
. Bootstraps in Europe, Raises Money and Goes Global in the US
. English Major Bootstraps a Tech Company
. Bootstraps with a Paycheck to $15M from Tennessee
. Queue-It Bootstraps from Denmark to the US
. Bootstrapping A Virtual Company To $25M
. ActiveCampaign CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $40M
. Alteryx Bootstrapped with Services to a Public Unicorn
. Inspyrus Bootstraps Using Services to an Awesome Business Model
. CEO Bootstraps Using Services to Millions from Russia
. Wiredrive CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $10M
. Scaling to Over $10M by Bootstrapping Using Services
. Bootstraps Using Services from Poland to a US SaaS Company
. ButcherBox CEO Bootstraps a Perishable Meat Business to Significant Scale
. Waveform CEO Bootstraps to $8M
. Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship from Estonia
. From Laid-off Engineer to Successful Startup CEO
. Imagine Easy Solutions CEO Bootstraps to Exit
. BannerBuzz CEO Bootstraps to $35M
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Wisconsin
. Best Tactic for B2B Startups
. Bootstrapping by Piggybacking from Romania
. Bootstrap First, Then Scale with VC Funds
. Bootstrap to +$10M First, Raise Money Later
. Madwire CEO Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later to $120M
. Bootstrap Using Services First, Raise Money Later
. Wonderful Bootstrap with a Paycheck Story
. RushOrderTees CEO Bootstraps to $23M
. Bootstrapping with Freemium and Free Trials to $13M
. Bootstrapping, Pivoting, Gaining Liquidity, Scaling to $100M+
. Bootstrapping with Affiliate Marketing

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