Rogers startup Firebend offers supply chain and logistics technology
Starting Rogers master of fire was created from Fort Smith Propak Corp.. after founder Steve Clark envisioned the supply chain company as a technology company with supply chain expertise, an executive said.
Davy Mears, Chief Technology Officer of Firebend, said the Fort Smith businessman’s vision for Propak’s technology to drive profit and revenue led to the launch of Firebend and the creation of the platforms. technological forms Control Tower and Freight Genius.
Clark said Propak was looking to commercialize traditional administrative services and the demand for its technology provided an opportunity to bring it to other customers.
On July 1, 2019, Firebend launched with four partners, including Clark, CFO Cyndi Dye, CEO Justin Marshall, and Mears.
“We’re not your typical startup,” Mears said. “Our first day in business, we had 32 employees and already had customers, and our technology grew because we had built it over time within Propak.”
Mears said Firebend’s technology is unique from other supply chain technologies because its proprietary rapid development platform enables custom-developed supply chain technology. While competitors sell products to customers in various industries, he said it’s the same technology but reconfigured differently for each customer.
“Take warehousing, for example,” he says. “We have customers who need technology to manage their warehouses. Where we are different is that in a fraction of the time our competitors take to implement and configure an out-of-the-box warehouse management system, we can create something from scratch that is very proprietary and very unique to how they want to run their warehouses.
Firebend is also unique because it includes supply chain leaders and technologists, Mears said.
“We speak this language, and the insights we can provide customers with our decades of experience give us a competitive position,” Clark said, noting that the Rockfish team’s experience as well as access to ” unique and world-class talents provide us with an opportunity to bring value to our customers.
The company has 44 employees. Most are split between the Rogers and Fort Smith offices. It also has approximately five employees working in locations across the United States.
SUPPLY CHAIN TECHNOLOGY
Mears said Freight Genius is a transportation management system for freight brokers and Control Tower was designed for customers in various industries who want better visibility throughout their supply chains.
“The control tower is our biggest product of the two,” he said. “Control Tower is…the platform for rapid development. This is called headless technology. Our customers pay for a subscription to our product that allows them or us to rapidly develop custom applications. We have modules for transportation, warehousing, procurement and order management – all areas of the supply chain so we can quickly develop the supply chain technology they need.
The control tower can also work with customers’ existing supply chain technology and integrate the system from one customer to another” with a layer of business intelligence so that our partners have visibility for the first time. complete chain of custody of their supply chains,” he said. “It’s like the connective tissue of existing supply chains.”
He said retailers could use the technology to gain supply chain visibility, such as when used assets leave a store due to a store reset. Without Control Tower, retailers depend on vendor data to know how assets were liquidated, and that information can arrive weeks or months after they’ve been shipped. Retailer and supplier systems are integrated with technology, allowing real-time visibility into inventory flows.
Mears noted that a reverse logistics supply chain customer reported a 100x recovery on invoices after learning they had been overcharged. Visibility enabled the customer to hold supply chain partners accountable. Additionally, a customer saves on transportation costs by letting technology determine a more efficient shipping destination.
Freight Genius is technology for brokers who help customers who need items shipped by connecting them with shipping carriers to complete shipments. Mears said Freight Genius provides brokers with data, integrations and ease of use and helps them move freight quickly and efficiently for customers. The technology objective allows brokers to move more freight with higher margins.
“Because of our data-rich integrations… [the broker] should have enough information to know what the shipper has to pay and what a carrier has to charge,” he said. “It’s more transparency.”
He explained that a customer’s margins increased by approximately 5 percentage points within 90 days of starting to use Freight Genius. He added that old client technology took two weeks for new brokers to train. The training was reduced to a morning with Freight Genius.
WIDE INDUSTRY SUPPORT
Existing customers operate in a variety of industries, including retail, reverse logistics, automotive manufacturing, the cannabis industry, store resets, and retail liquidation. Mears said the company has retained all of its existing customers since its inception.
As the company’s first customer, Propak uses Freight Genius. Greg Jensen, Propak’s vice president of business development, said Firebend helped the company implement a more robust transportation management system after the company started moving more freight.
“It gave us a tool to grow,” Jensen said. “It’s internet-based so you can connect anywhere. It helps you connect with carrier base. With regard to brokerage, it is very important to be able to communicate as much with your base of carriers as with your customers. It has many tools that allow us to communicate quickly and easily with the customer and the carrier partner.
Mears noted the organic growth of the business and that it has not focused on marketing or sales, but rather on product/market fit and preparing the product for scale.
“Our next big step is to get out of stealth mode and start showing the world what we have to offer, especially the distribution/retail world,” Marshall said. “It’s time to jump off the cake.”
Dye said the company has four customers in the pipeline and noted that it could roll out its technology for new customers in two to three months, up from almost six months. It expects revenue to grow from $6 million in 2021 to $6.5 million this year before rising 25% in 2023.
Clark recruited Dye for Firebend after serving as a Propak auditor and CFO of digital agency Rockfish Interactive, a company Clark co-founded. In 2011, publicly traded communications company WPP acquired Rockfish, which has since been rebranded as VMLY&R. Dye has nearly 30 years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant.
Prior to July 2019, Marshall and Mears worked at Propak. Marshall, who has 20 years of supply chain and reverse logistics experience, worked at CHEP before joining Propak in 2011. Mears also worked for Rockfish.
Long-term, Clark sees Firebend as an industry leader in big data management, focusing on supply chain and real-time solutions for Fortune 100 customers.