Will Lawrence, co-founder and CTO of Iron Sheepdog, likes to say that sometimes building simple things is actually very difficult. Iron Sheepdog’s goal is to create simple, easy-to-use technology for the short-haul trucking industry. This approach is also why the company believes it can achieve a level of adoption in the industry that its competitors do not.

The Williamsburg, Virginia-based company’s software is designed to make the short-haul trucking field, which primarily involves outsourcing short-haul jobs to truckers booked through brokers, more seamless and efficient. Companies can track the trucks they contract with Iron Sheepdog, giving them more transparency into where the trucks are, how long the work will take and how much they will pay. Truck drivers themselves can get an easy-to-use app that helps them accept jobs and get paid online.

Iron Sheepdog announced this week it has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by SJF Ventures, with participation from Grand Ventures, Supply Chain Ventures and strategic partners. Iron Sheepdog co-founder and CEO Mike Van Sickel told TechCrunch that the company spent its first few years ensuring it could gain customer adoption and become profitable. Now it’s looking to expand.

“Trust is the most important feature; we had to get transfer trucks to actually use the app,” says Van Sickel. “All solutions mandated by contractors [subhaulers] If they’re not willing to use it, you’re going to create more problems. “

The idea for Steel Shepherd came from the life experiences of the three co-founders, Van Sickle said. None of them are short-term truck drivers themselves, but work for the companies that employ them. Van Sickel said that while there are software solutions for all other parts of their business, there hasn’t been a great solution for hiring short-haul truck drivers. The existing process is frustrating for both parties.

While Iron Sheepdog isn’t the first company to try building software to manage these short-haul truckers, its performance has doubled every year since its inception. That’s because it’s built differently than its competitors. Rather than focusing on contractors to drive adoption, they are starting with short-haul truckers themselves.

“We chose to look at the problem from the bottom up rather than from the top down,” Van Sickle said. “We made a very simple app for forwarding companies and tied it to 24-hour pay. I call it simple; it was deliberately made simple so that they would adopt it.”

Getting truckers to sign up for the free app prompts the brokers who provide them with work to sign up, which works throughout the chain. Contractors also want to sign up because they know the app gives them access to a network of more than 4,000 short-haul truckers. The company makes money when those contractors pay underlying truckers through the platform.

Van Sickel said that now that there are a large number of brokers and truckers on the platform, the company can start to better leverage them. For example, a company can hire one truck to complete two jobs or deliver materials to two locations on the same day, thereby reducing the number of trucks required. This also helps reduce emissions.

“If you think about Uber Eats, an Uber driver doesn’t leave his house, pick up a sandwich, go to your house, and then go home. That’s not how this industry works,” Van Sickle said. “Once you get on those trucks, you can start looking for ways to better utilize those trucks.”

Iron Shepherd’s bout stands out for a few reasons. On the one hand, investment in construction technology startups has grown in recent years, but this part of the system hasn’t received the same attention. What good is software that speeds up job site planning if coordinating trucks to complete the job slows down the process?

Innovation around trucking has also largely ignored this area. Companies looking to build autonomous construction vehicles and companies looking to solve last-mile freight problems already exist, but the technology dedicated to dump trucks and similar products is far fewer. There are other companies looking to help solve this problem, including TruckIT and Loadtraxx, but Iron Sheepdog looks to be one of the few, if not the only, venture-backed startup to tackle this problem.

Iron Collie’s focus on adoption is also noteworthy. While it’s obvious that companies should develop products that their target organizations will actually use, this doesn’t always happen and therefore there are many industries that are still lagging behind in terms of technology.

If no one uses the new technology, it does little good.

“It has to be a crawl, walk, run approach, but not a crawl, run approach,” Van Sickle said. “There is a disconnect between some software solutions being developed and the intentions of the individuals actually using the solutions.”

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