How Unit helps Outgo simplify financial management for domestic freight carriers
Outgo saw an opportunity to transform the freight industry by building an all-in-one banking solution for small-fleet carriers.
With Unit, Outgo functions as a financial one-stop shop for carriers while offering them invoice factoring at industry-leading rates.
The domestic freight industry is a cornerstone of the US economy. It’s made up of 1.2 million small businesses (“carriers”) that, together, operate more than 3.5 million trucks. Each of these trucks generates about 150 invoices and $240K in revenue per year, for a grand total of more than $400B in annual revenue.
But these carriers face a challenge. Although the way they find work, maintain their equipment, and plan their routes has changed a lot over the last thirty years, the way they get paid and manage their money has been stuck in the 90s.
Outgo aims to change that. Founders Marcus Womack, Mike Bohlander, and Ray Fortna had previously worked at cutting-edge transportation companies like Uber and Convoy. That inspired them to build better tools which put carriers’ financial needs first. (article continues below)
“Companies that operate ten or fewer trucks make up 95% of the domestic freight industry,” says Marcus Womack, CEO of Outgo. “A lot of innovation has been brought to the problem of helping them find work, but the way they get paid and manage their finances hasn’t evolved for decades.”
Outgo solves two big problems for carriers. First, it allows them to manage all aspects of their finances through a single platform rather than rely on a patchwork of 4-5 legacy banking services. Second, it helps them get paid faster, offering frictionless invoice factoring with features like daily rate and partial invoice factoring.
To power their financial features, Outgo partners with Unit. In other words, Unit streamlines the compliance, bank relationships, and back-end banking infrastructure so that Outgo can focus on delivering the best experience for carriers.
“We evaluated five potential banking-as-a-service vendors,” says Mike Bohlander, CTO of Outgo. “What stood out about Unit was the full-featured nature of the API. A lot of the more nuanced use cases and scenarios we required—other providers couldn’t cover them.”
What Outgo built with Unit:
To understand how Outgo consolidates a carrier’s finances, it’s helpful to understand how carriers get paid.
Carriers find work through brokers, who represent shippers like Pepsi, Safeway, and Kroger. Once a carrier makes a delivery, they must create and submit an invoice (along with supporting documents) to the broker to get paid. Generally, brokers pay carriers within 30-40 days of receiving an invoice.
That creates a cash-flow challenge for carriers: they’re managing a multitude of business expenses, but their pay is delayed by a month or more. Many have turned to invoice factoring, whereby unpaid invoices are sold, at a discount, for cash up front.
In the past, carriers have stitched together 4-5 legacy products and services to manage their financial workflow, of which factoring is just one part. For example, a single carrier might have a bank account, a factoring company, an accounting/tax solution, an invoicing solution, and a few spreadsheets. Managing these tools adds hours of work to an already substantial administrative burden.
By contrast, Outgo aspires to be a one-stop shop for carriers. The platform already offers banking, invoicing, and invoice factoring. In the future, they plan to help their carriers with things like expenses, accounting, and tax.
“We’re building a smart financial solution for the freight industry,” says Marcus Womack, CEO of Outgo. “From the very beginning, Unit’s in-house compliance team has been ready to roll up their sleeves, get in there, and build with us.” (article continues below)
The second problem Outgo solves for carriers involves factoring. Until now, invoice factoring has been a one-size-fits-all solution, as well as painfully expensive. By leveraging modern technology, Outgo’s factoring can be both more targeted and less costly for carriers.
Under traditional factoring, carriers must factor entire invoices; some factoring companies even require that carriers factor all of their invoices. By contrast, Outgo allows carriers to factor only the invoices they choose, and only as much of a given invoice as they need. Whereas traditional factoring companies offer a “monthly factoring rate” and require a minimum term of 30 days, Outgo offers a dynamic “daily factoring rate” with no minimum term; it decreases as the due date of the invoice approaches. Finally, when choosing which invoice to factor, Outgo automatically selects the one that will be least costly for the carrier.
"By building factoring into a carrier's bank account, Outgo can respond intelligently, in real time, factoring only what’s needed, and at the lowest possible rate," say Ray Fortna, Outgo’s Head of Product.
Perhaps Outgo’s biggest innovation has been their debit card, which allows carriers to factor invoices for free. Here’s how it works: using their debit cards, carriers can spend up to the balance of their approved and unpaid invoices without paying any interest or fees. Outgo is able to subsidize the cost of the service with interchange revenue, the money that companies like Outgo earn when customers spend with Outgo-branded debit cards. Finally, for every debit-card purchase that a carrier doesn’t pay for with factoring, the carrier earns 1% cash back.
Outgo’s solution is meaningfully less expensive for carriers than traditional factoring; it can lead to savings of thousands of dollars per year.
Dynamic factoring rates, a factoring-linked debit card—in the past, nuanced financial features like these would have taken years and millions to build. But with Unit, Outgo was able to launch in just six months, at a fraction of the cost.
Looking ahead, Outgo plans to help carriers access financing in other forms: things like charge cards, business loans, and overdrafts. Regardless of what direction their product roadmap ultimately leads them, they are confident that Unit will be a valuable partner in the journey.
“From a tech perspective, Unit shines,” says Mike Bohlander, CTO of Outgo. “They’re moving quickly, shipping valuable new features. We’re excited to partner with a company as innovative as we are.”
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Outgo is a financial technology company and not a bank. Banking services provided by Blue Ridge Bank N.A.; Member FDIC. The Outgo Visa® Debit Card is issued by Blue Ridge Bank N.A. pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.