Nick McRae and Max Kommor at the Vogt Awards

High tech and hot asphalt might seem like an odd combination, but it makes perfect sense to Nick McRae and Max Kommor. Coming out of the University of Louisville’s entrepreneurship MBA program, they created BroadLoop, a virtual fleet logistics and dispatch intelligence platform that brings material producers, contractors, and fleet operators together to drive down costs and increase job profitability. Louisville Future recently talked with McRae to learn more.

How did you come up with this concept?

McRae: Max worked in heavy highway construction, doing bridge rehabilitation work, sales, and project estimating. I had worked at a GPS startup company that was tracking K-12 school buses. When he was noticing dump trucks stacked up on a job site, he brought it to my attention, and I started to think about the obvious solution being fleet management.

When we dug into it, we realized contractors don’t own those trucks. Available GPS options are really not suitable because you typically wouldn’t buy a GPS unit and put it on somebody else’s truck. So we built a sort of upside-down GPS model so that you have a mobile app where the trucks will allow you to see their location, but only temporarily.

Why is it important to keep track of dump trucks?

McRae: The worst thing for road contractors is that they don’t have enough material available to put into the back of the paver. If they know the ETA of the next truck, they can actually slow down the crew and give that truck a little bit of extra time.

You’re also trying to prevent “over-trucking.” What’s that?

McRae: A job site that shuts down costs about $1,000 an hour in equipment and labor costs. A truck costs about $100 an hour. So they do what’s called over-trucking, where they’ll order two or three extra trucks. They’d rather pay $200 or $300 more to avoid losing $1,000 if that job shuts down.

BroadLoop also supports e-ticketing. Talk about that capability.

McRae: Our system actually integrates with the load-out software at the plant. As soon as the truck goes over the scale and the ticket is created, we capture the digital details. Then we can show the location of the truck on the map, as well as the load information, such as type of material and quantity and temperature. Pumping this rich information into the field for the contractor helps them increase their quality and overall efficiency. The DOT is increasingly incorporating e-tickets into their specifications, and we’re one of just a few companies that can even comply with that specification.

So are you focused solely on construction vehicles?

McRae: No. We recently rebranded from Blacktop to BroadLoop. It’s the same construction materials delivery solution, but it also has lots of other angles, so it can work for a fleet operator who wants to handle dispatching and scheduling, and it can work for a company that just wants to track equipment and assets.

How has it been to launch a startup here?

McRae: Louisville’s been great. We’ve gone through Venture Connectors, which is a great networking organization, and Future Louisville. We won a few business plan competitions and were able to pull together $25,000 or $30,000 in nondilutive grants and funding.

Shortly after that, we went through the Vogt Awards and got another $25,000 as well in nondilutive funding. Since then, we have raised $450,000 in angel funding. One of our investors even made a note that he appreciated the way we leveraged the startup community to put us in the best position possible to de-risk the investment for him and other investors.