FreightCaviar Podcast: Matt Silver, Former CEO and Founder of Forager
"I'm more excited about the supply chain enabler side of it, that's actually building some of that tech to help brokers get more efficient, help shippers get more efficient, and help carriers get more efficient."
In the latest FreightCaviar podcast episode, industry veteran Matt Silver offers valuable insights into the freight industry, drawing from his tenure as CEO and founder of the cross-border freight company Forager and his early experiences working for his father, Jeff, at Coyote. He talks about strategic decision-making, with a special focus on hiring practices and performance management. Matt emphasizes the significance of learning from past mistakes and the critical role of metrics and objectives in driving business success.
On top of that, he discusses the evolving landscape of the freight industry, advocating for the integration of advanced technology. This approach, he suggests, should be rooted in practical experience and geared towards enhancing collaboration and efficiency in the sector.
His perspectives shed light on the complex dance between innovation and practical know-how in the world of freight.
Early Days and Coyote
Surprisingly, Matt was originally intent on being involved in the film industry. After working only on free projects, his father gave him an ultimatum: either come work for Coyote or stay in L.A. and pay your own rent. The rest is history.
Carrying the Silver Name
Matt's upbringing in a household with his father, Jeff Silver, a legend in the freight industry, gave him early exposure to the world of logistics. While he didn't fully understand the intricacies of freight brokerage as a child, he was responsible for answering phones at American Backhaulers – that is, until he was fired by Jeff.
Starting Forager and Learning From Mistakes
Matt shares the lessons he learned since starting his own company and some hiring advice.
He admits to hastily hiring familiar faces, prioritizing trust over expertise. This approach, he realizes, didn't fit the nitty-gritty demands of a startup. With a substantial $15 million capital, Matt felt pressured to spend and expand quickly, a decision he later regretted. His key takeaway? "Hire smart and fire fast" - advice he wishes he'd embraced sooner.
Supply Chain Disrupters Vs. Enablers
We learn Matt’s thoughts on working in the industry for more than a decade and the experiences that shaped him throughout the years.
He acknowledges the efforts of companies like Flexport and Uber Freight to innovate in a tough industry, where experience and deep understanding are crucial. Matt underscores that merely having a tech background from giants like Google or Amazon isn't enough to make a significant change in the freight industry.
While supply chain disruptors have garnered attention in recent years, Matt expressed his enthusiasm for supply chain enablers. These companies focus on building technology and tools that enhance efficiency and collaboration within the industry. He highlighted GoodShip as an example, providing analytics and connectivity for shippers to manage their procurement processes better.
The Importance of Product Marketing
Matt shares what product marketing is about, why it’s important, and who gives the best examples of it in the industry today.
He points out that many companies fail to effectively market their products, emphasizing that it's not just about having a product but also about showcasing its utility and benefits compellingly.
Convoy, according to Matt, stands out in this arena, adeptly communicating what they've built and its purpose. Their product releases are illustrative, guiding potential users through features with screenshots and demonstrations. This approach makes technology exciting and engaging, though he notes the importance of balancing this with a focus on unit economics.
This conversation is packed with so much more from freight brokerage industry royalty, Matt Silver. Be sure to tune in to the full episode below.