Green Bay Startup Lanehub Wins $100K Steve Case Investment

When a company ships a truckload of goods across the country, it’s often the case that the truck will return to its city of origin carrying less than a full load. Trucking, which is estimated to be a $720 billion-plus industry, could be made more efficient by putting businesses that ship products by truck in closer contact with carriers—and with other shippers—says Mark Hackl, founder and CEO of the Green Bay, WI-based startup Lanehub.

On Tuesday, Lanehub took first place in a pitch contest held in the company’s hometown, landing a $100,000 investment from AOL co-founder Steve Case. The competition was part of the “Rise of the Rest” tour organized by the venture capital firm Revolution, where Case is chairman. The goal of the tour is to highlight emerging innovation communities in parts of the country that aren’t known as hotbeds for tech startups.

Lanehub beat out seven other early-stage companies based in the Badger State. The eight finalists that gave pitches were selected from more than 100 applicants, Case says. Green Bay was the last of five stops on the latest Rise of the Rest tour. Earlier this month, the tour made its way through Indianapolis; Columbus, OH; Ann Arbor, MI; and the Harrisburg, PA, area.

Lanehub bills itself as “the social network for transportation.” Hackl says that several companies have introduced logistics-focused software over the past decade. However, most of those products focus on the short term—matching shippers and carriers based on the amounts they bid for a given trip—rather than getting organizations to collaborate on route-planning over the long haul, he says.

“Lanehub allows them to identify synergies between the two companies in a way that they can agree on a common carrier that can handle their freight,” Hackl says. Most shippers only consider their own organization’s network when planning round-trip shipments, he adds.

Hackl launched the company in 2015. Lanehub has already signed a number of well-known customers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), and Nestlé.

On its website, ZyQuest, an IT company based just south of Green Bay, in De Pere, WI, says it played a hand in developing Lanehub’s collaborative transportation network. Over the past couple decades, ZyQuest founder and CEO Al Zeise has helped launch at least 10 companies in the area; most of them have come about by identifying a business problem a company is facing, then creating a startup to work with the company to try to solve the problem.

Hackl says that Lanehub makes money in two ways. It charges customers a $5,400 subscription fee each year, as well as a transaction fee of 25 percent of the amount the client saved by using Lanehub’s software, he says.

Hackl claims his company’s algorithms can help identify potential matches between customers, and help each of them save as much as $10 million per year.

The startup projects it will generate $200,000 in revenue from subscription sales this year, plus another $25,000 in transaction fees. Lanehub estimates it will take in $650,000 in subscription revenue in 2018.

Hackl says he and others at the company are seeking to raise a $750,000 funding round to be able to fuel Lanehub’s continued growth. Following its win in Tuesday’s pitch contest, the road ahead for the startup looks a bit smoother.

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