Launch: Mobilizing Cities

New mobility and logistics startups aim to make urban and freight transportation more efficient.

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Twenty-year old Max Lock is not shy about taking on the international shipping-industrial complex.

Launch 01A Pennsylvania native, the youthful entrepreneur was busy importing paper and plastic from China when he decided to pivot and tackle the problems facing small import/export businesses: finding freight forwarders, soliciting quotes and clearing customs and delivery.

“I thought if we can book our air tickets and hotels online for travel — we should be able to do the same for freight,” Lock says.

His new venture, Fleet, connects small and medium size shippers with service providers. In 2014 the startup won first-runner up at TechCrunch Disrupt, a pitch competition in San Francisco.

By the following year, Fleet had launched its first funding round — netting a cool $4 million — and set up base in Portland.

The company employs 10 and now offers a variety of freight forwarding services online.

Lock says the business is popular among young entrepreneurs who might not have experience with international shipping but who view tech as a means to increase efficiency.

HAAS Alert

One of three new companies participating in Portland’s Jaguar Land Rover’s Incubator, HAAS Alert links city agencies with connected and Launch 02autonomous vehicles. Co-founder Noah Levens says the idea germinated after another co-founder narrowly missed being hit by an ambulance while riding a motorcycle.

“We began looking for products that could have warned him an ambulance was about to hit that blind intersection,” Levens says.

“That’s when we stumbled upon a huge data problem cities have.”

Many municipalities do generate data that could warn drivers when emergency vehicles are approaching but lack the capcity to get the information to people on the street.

HAAS fills the gap by getting that data to drivers in real-time.

“We are exploring not only the technical aspects but also things such as the user experience of a driver receiving an alert,” Levens says.

“What does it look like? What does it sound or feel like?”

The company is prepping for deployments in several cities later this year.


A pioneer in Portland’s rapidly growing tech-transport sector, Citifyd might qualify as a senior player.Launch 03

“Our vision at the beginning was to make mobility effortless and at the same time reduce the costs of the commute,” founder Sohrab Vossoughi says of the app, which helps users find and pay for parking.

Citifyd partners include the Portland Trail Blazers, the Portland Timbers and the city of Pasadena.

Next on the agenda is a reward feature that provides financial incentives for users frequenting local businesses.

“The local commerce are able to subsidize part of your commute and remove some of the barriers brick and mortars are facing,” he says.

Citifyd also aims to bundle the software with partners’ apps. “It’s all about making it easy for people,” Vossoughi says.