Intuitive payoff

Five years ago, Jamie and Greg Cain started a home-based business by investing $1,200 in one PC to service one client formerly known as Roadway Logistics.

Today, the company, located at Arlington Road and I-77 in Akron, employs 50 people, and serves myriad clients such as Diebold Inc. and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. This year alone, the company will earn $8 million in revenue, all from an endeavor that sprang from a cognitive concept and was christened with a name that Internet companies envy: DotCom Technologies Inc.

“My company is currently valued at $50 million, but if I were to include that name in the valuation, the dot-com identity itself is probably worth $100 million,” says Jamie Cain, CEO and president.

Cain says DotCom grew by blending e-business consulting, software integration and development, and production support expertise to provide clients with end-to-end Internet and enterprise solutions.

“We’ve positioned ourselves so that we are now the only company in the United States that’s put together this robust of an e-business platform, so that other companies, from the small to the Fortune 1000 firm, can rapidly deploy their global business strategies,” she says.

And as the specialist in back-end Internet development, systems integration, e-commerce and transportation logistics technologies, in February, the Cains partnered with Tom Escott, former president and CEO of Caliber Logistics (now FedEx Logistics), to launch ShipLogix Inc., a new company that’s projected to revolutionize the transportation management industry. Jamie Cain, ShipLogix’s chief strategic officer, says that’s because DotCom just debuted the industry’s first collaborative Web-based transportation management system.

The software suite allows shippers, carriers, third-party providers and business-to-business marketplaces to collaborate in real time, streamlining the process of purchasing and executing transportation.

“As veterans of logistics and IT, our team understands the tools that shippers and carriers both need to increase their operational efficiencies,” says Escott, as ShipLogix co-founder and CEO. “We’ve designed an online software application that simplifies the transportation transaction process for all trading partners.”

Jamie Cain says ShipLogix, based in Hudson, is set to rule the road in a global way, with additional offices recently opened in Europe and the Pacific Rim. So innovative is the ShipLogix concept that in March, the company received $15 million in first-round capital funding from an investment consortium consisting of Odeon Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners and StartingPoint Venture Partners.

Cain says that had she and her husband ignored their intuition five years ago, ShipLogix wouldn’t be a reality. The initial vision for DotCom Technologies, she explains, was an enterprise solution model — the equivalent to what is today known as an application service provider (ASP).

“When we first started DotCom, ASP wasn’t even in existence, but we knew that someday it would be and that we needed to focus on it. So we started developing that practice in-house, and it came to fruition last year as our e-business solution model,” she says.

With that model, the couple formed strategic alliances with Vitria Technology Inc., SKYVA International and Qwest Communications to enable DotCom to leverage existing and proven processes, tools and technologies to deliver quality e-business solutions.

In turn, those partnerships and others bolster the structure of the new company, providing invaluable supply chain processes, business strategy and information technology to ShipLogix. The collaboration also allowed the rapid creation of distributed application software to precisely match ShipLogix’s unique business model, organization and processes.

Cain explains that Vitria Technology’s BusinessWare is being deployed as the ShipLogix “message bus” to enable companies to conduct business across corporate networks and on the Web, providing Internet supply chain visibility through the use of powerful analytical and reporting tools. Skyva International’s “skyva” allows an organization to implement software that matches its unique methods of operation, creating an end-to-end business solution while leveraging existing IT systems.

Another strategic alliance is with Avicon, a global information technology strategy and management consulting firm that fuses business strategies and supply chain processes with innovative Internet solutions. And CT Logistics’ software products provide rating, auditing, expense allocations, freight bill processing and management reporting.

“For the past five years, we’ve been modeling our company and preparing our employees for this enterprise solution,” Cain says. “We did it right, and now we’re in everybody’s sweet spot. And every company we present this to says, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for!'”

 

Tech tools

Greg Cain, who serves as chief technology officer for ShipLogix, says the ShipLogix product was just released in an alpha version.

Production is slated for late August and the beta version will debut in October. The product will include nine transportation management modules, among them, electronic quotation request and routing guide, load tender/acceptance, shipment status, cost/service options, mode/shipment optimization, delivery appointment scheduler, invoicing and ad hoc reporting.

These tools are invaluable to the transportation industry because although shippers and carriers share many identical business processes (such as scheduling, tracing and optimizing shipments), current applications address shipper or carrier needs — but not both. By integrating the needs of both groups into one solution, ShipLogix is the best-practice template that reduces time and expenses associated with myriad transportation functions.

For example, the typical Request for Quotation (RFQ) process currently requires a tremendous amount of administrative time on both sides to gather and rekey information, field phone calls and analyze data. The ShipLogix system features an RFQ process that can easily be completed and used collaboratively by both shipper and carrier via the Internet.

“We facilitate a ready communication between companies so they no longer need eight people to answer an RFQ. The carriers can now take those people and put them on other projects, and it saves them so much money,” says Cain, noting that the software instantly creates a Web-based routing guide that ranks carriers’ bids according to predetermined criteria.

Another ShipLogix secret weapon is “FreitRater,” a software solution designed for carriers who want a fast, accurate rating system for freight billing, rate analysis and rate publishing. FreitRater resolves two of the most common reasons for inaccurate freight bill rates — that existing systems can’t handle complex rating, and inaccurate rate information is entered and stored in a system.

The FreitRater solution is Windows and UNIX-based but is also available in a client/server Windows NT Version, and can run as a stand-alone application or interface with existing applications.

Cain notes that BaanSCS TransPro, a product of the CAPS Logistics division of Baan Company — a global enterprise business solutions provider — will facilitate ShipLogix Optimization, an electronic mode/shipment optimization function.

“TransPro is recognized as one of the most powerful transportation planning systems available today,” he says. “From mode and carrier selection to shipment consolidation, TransPro will enable ShipLogix users to generate smarter transportation plans and reduce shipping costs.”

To use the Optimization tool, users log onto the ShipLogix Web site and enter shipment data including consignee addresses, required ship dates, shipment type and requested delivery times. The ShipLogix Web interface automatically loads the data into TransPro for offline processing. Once the shipments are processed, the customer automatically receives a downloadable plan that minimizes costs with the best service option.

In addition to designing this online application to automate several transportation management functions, ShipLogix and DotCom are also offering enhanced connectivity to the client’s enterprise to further automate processes.

 

Exit strategy?

Jamie Cain confides that since an IPO was a consideration for DotCom Technologies from the beginning, seeking venture capital was inevitable. What she didn’t expect, she says, was attracting a group of investors that passionately supported the vision.

“When we did the dog-and-pony show for ShipLogix, we presented to four companies and the first company said, ‘You’re in my space, I can’t hear anymore!’ The other three fought over us. Odeon brought in both Goldman Sachs and VantagePoint Venture Partners, and we ended up with $15 million,” she laughs.

Matthew Smith, managing partner of Odeon Capital Partners, says his firm was compelled by the ShipLogix vision, management team and technology, and believes the company will be the logistics engine that drives eCommerce in its industry.

“By allowing shippers and carriers to collaborate online in real time, ShipLogix is changing the face of transportation management as it exists today,” he says.

Jamie Cain notes that Boston-based AMR Research Inc. also predicts a smooth ride for ShipLogix because of its amalgamation of batch optimization processing with real-time transportation management functionality.

“ShipLogix is the only new dot-com that shows up in AMR’s two major break-out categories — their logistics exchanges and portals,” she says. “And when it comes to consolidation, I think ShipLogix has the strengths, the foresight and a domain expertise to be one of the big consolidators of the future.”

If her intuition proves correct, the new venture will rule the road in the transportation management industry. As Jamie Cain puts it, “The power we’ve put together with ShipLogix, and the B2B relationships we’re developing, will enable us to handle the supply chain from end to end.”

As for the Cain’s original company, Cain says, “Now a lot of investors are courting DotCom Technologies. But since we built that company internally by ourselves, I’ll have to sleep on that one.”

How to reach: DotCom Technologies, (330) 645-7575.