This post is part of our “Startup Stories” series – where we feature select Designli clients with the goal of highlighting their products, their inspiration, and what has motivated them to tackle the world of building a digital startup.
Kevin Nadeau, founder of TLT, Inc., started his company after seeing a costly problem faced by the industry he spent over twenty years in. We chatted with Kevin to learn how he came up with the idea for his app and the lessons he’s learned along his path of entrepreneurship.
Tell me a bit about your company. Can you share your elevator pitch with us?
The product is still in development, so I can’t provide a lot of details yet, but it’s a platform that solves a billion-dollar-a-year problem in the logistics industry.
Trucking and logistics companies of all sizes face this problem daily, whether they’re single tractor owner-operators or managers of large fleets.
Because people have been complaining about this problem for decades, TLT, Inc. has a real opportunity to bring positive disruption to the industry.
There are over 750,000 for-hire truckers nationwide that could benefit from this product.
What’s your origin story? How did your company come to be?
I’ve been in transportation and logistics for 23 years and continue to see this problem for which there isn’t currently a solution. I looked at all the existing apps and other technology platforms, but they didn’t really fix the problem. I reached out to a few people in the industry for feedback on the idea I had, and they were really excited because it not only provides a solution but also fosters collaboration and communication within our fragmented industry.
What initially got you interested in logistics?
I started working at an overnight carrier in high school to earn extra money, and I ended up really enjoying it.
I liked the fast-paced nature of the business. It’s always putting out fires.
You’re creating a plan and constantly changing it to adapt to a variety of variables. You have to think and act quickly to solve problems for your drivers and customers.
What prompted you to start your company at the specific time that you did?
Throughout my career, I’ve dealt with a problem that every other trucking company has. 90% of trucking companies aren’t large carriers — they’re small fleets, which means they don’t collaborate well to solve the problems that they face in the industry. So I realized there was an opportunity.
How has your initial idea changed since you first started your business?
As I started talking with other trucking companies, I realized that privacy was a big issue for them, so we made it possible for customers to select what information they share publicly. We also introduced automated reporting templates to give customers better visibility into their operations.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running a company? And what’s the hardest?
The most rewarding has been the flexibility. My job in the industry required that I be available 24/7, so being able to set my own schedule and priorities now has been a positive. I can schedule time for family and friends.
The most difficult has been the mental aspect. Starting a small business on your own is tough.
You have to stay mentally focused and positive.
Who inspires you?
My wife. She left the corporate world years ago and pursued her master’s in social work and then achieved multiple certifications and licensure before opening her own clinical private practice as a psychotherapist. She’s impacting people’s lives today because she had a dream and decided to pursue it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve had so many great mentors who have given me a wealth of advice. They’ve encouraged me to have faith, work hard, and do the right thing, even if no one is watching.
What has been your biggest mistake or challenge when starting a business and what insights did you gain from it?
I was surprised how long it takes to receive capital funding. People are enthusiastic about the idea, but funding is a lengthy process. I wish I’d started sooner.
What advice would you offer to new startup founders or those who are in the early stages of starting a company?
Do your homework, make sure that you’re an industry expert as much as you can be, understand your target audience and who your customers are going to be.
Build a good team around you. Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and fill in what’s missing with smart and talented people. You’re only as successful as the people you surround yourself with.
And have patience — entrepreneurship is a long journey.
Ready to chat with the Designli team about bringing your own app idea to life? Contact us here.