Routific uses AI to cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40%.
Marc Kuo is the Founder & CEO of Routific. He is a routing expert with nearly a decade of experience in last-mile logistics. But he didn’t always work in logistics.
“Being a fresh grad out of school, I just wanted to get into either management consulting or investment banking, simply because of its prestige,” Marc told me. “I was ambitious. I wanted to aim for something challenging.
“Once I was in finance, I was on the equity trading floor for one of the investment banks in Hong Kong. It was a glamorous dream job. I was sitting on the fifty-first floor of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Hong Kong. But I just felt a little empty. I was quickly disenchanted by this glamorous job and the corporate life.
“I wasn’t adding much value to society, using algorithms to move money from the retired pensioners to the rich bankers. I didn’t feel like it was value added to society.”
After being on the job for a year, Marc decided to go back to what he studied in graduate school. He wrote his thesis on route optimization algorithms.
From his perch on the fifty-first floor, he watched the ships, trucks, and logistics in the harbor.
“I felt a calling to move physical goods and rout them more efficiently. Physical goods are being moved anyway. Why not do it that much more efficiently?”
The Big Problem
Transportation is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Imagine a delivery business that delivers to 500 locations every day with a fleet of 10 vehicles. The puzzle of deciding which vehicle goes where and in what order, while making sure the fleet operates as efficiently as possible, is extremely hard.
“Every day we optimize the routes of hundreds of delivery businesses around the globe to save them time and fuel,” Marc explains. “Our mission? To make route optimization software accessible to every delivery business. We are passionate about helping businesses thrive and creating a more sustainable world.
“Routific surveyed 11,246 businesses and found that 72% still plan routes manually. That means they plan routes using tools like spreadsheets, pen and paper, and Google Maps. Businesses dependent on manual route planning struggle with the consequences of inefficient routes—hours of manual route planning time and inflated delivery costs.
“It’s hard work. And humans are not particularly good at it. Businesses report spending anywhere from one to three hours a day trying to plan delivery routes – many of which are not efficient nor optimal.”
This is where route optimization software can help.
“Aside from saving the manual route planner a lot of time, we also cut mileage and drive time by 20%-40% by generating more efficient routes than humans can ever find.”
The fact that most businesses are still manually planning routes is a big problem for the environment. Third-party environmental consultants estimated carbon emission reductions equivalent to planting 86 trees/year for every driver that switches over from manually planned routes to one optimized by Routific.
In 2019 alone, Routific helped delivery businesses around the world save 11,322 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of planting more than 500,000 trees.
How Routific Solves the Problem of Route Optimization
Marc says, “Route optimization is the process of finding the most cost-effective route for a set of stops across your fleet. Many people think this means finding the shortest distance or fastest time between point A and point B, but this isn’t quite right.
“Route optimization is used when you want to minimize drive time for multiple stops, while also accounting for a range of complexities like customer time windows, vehicle capacities, driver schedules, and more.
“Consider this: If you have three delivery drivers who need to deliver to 57 addresses today, there are already more than a quattuorvigintillion possible route combinations. That’s one with 75 zeros!
“Route optimization algorithms aim to solve two of the most difficult computer science problems: the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) and the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP). We built very complex algorithms to tackle these problems, but we hide the complexities from our customers.
“Delivery businesses just need to drop their data into Routific, set up their drivers, and click a button to let Routific do its magic. Within a few seconds, they’ll see the routes presented on a map and along a timeline. Then, they dispatch the routes straight to the drivers’ phones, who can use the Routific app to guide them on their way.”
What has been most rewarding?
I asked Marc what has been most rewarding on his journey. “Bringing together an incredible team of passionate and talented people,” Marc says. “Many of our team members were inspired to work with us because we are a purpose-driven company. They come to work excited to make a positive impact on the world.”
What advice would he give to early-stage social entrepreneurs? “Stay intellectually honest and transparent. If you don’t know something, admit it. Don’t fake your way through it. Transparency is about staying true to yourself and keeping your team in the know about the most important things in your business, especially when things aren’t going as well. You rely on your team to grow the company – they ought to know what’s going on.”
Call to Action:
Marc challenges founders to follow their passion. “Life is too short to be stuck doing something you’re not absolutely in love with.
“Being an equity trader at an investment bank may look and sound prestigious and glamorous, but sometimes appearances are very different from reality. In my experience, banks can have a very stifling culture where creativity and new ideas to improve existing processes are blocked by layers of bureaucracy and internal politics. If you’re skipping your lunch break or staying in the office until late in the evening just to impress your superiors, something is seriously wrong with your idea of workplace productivity and culture.
“When I started Routific, I vowed to do everything within my power to avoid having that kind of culture. We’re building a company where people are constantly encouraged to be creative and to come up with new ideas; a place where they can always be honest, happy, and productive. A place where people grow into the best versions of themselves.
“These kinds of workplaces exist, and I challenge all listeners to go out there and find them. Better yet – you can create such a workplace yourself as an entrepreneur.”