By Carleigh Lenz ’19
Scott Moscrip ’93 began his first successful company, Truckstop.com, in 1995 when internet entrepreneurship was on the absolute cutting edge. Truckstop.com provides a matching service for trucks and freight – “the eHarmony of shipping,” as Mr. Moscrip calls it. Some of Mr. Moscrip’s entrepreneurial roadblocks were clearly unique to the time (his early customers did not know how to access the Internet), but his experiences provided him with timeless lessons on entrepreneurship. Mr. Moscrip shared some of the lessons he learned from his successes and failures with students in the Mays Business School on Friday, March 1 as part of the Mays Innovation Research Center’s Professional Speaker Series.
The trucking industry is complicated in that each party is hostile toward the other. Truckstop.com provided companies and truck drivers with a neutral intermediary position to keep everyone happy. Mr. Moscrip found that the best way to please all parties involved is to be transparent. Much of the tension between the parties stems from distrust, but the transparency provided by Truckstop.com eased the nerves of Mr. Moscrip’s customers. He has worked hard to pay close attention to his customers’ requests, and often hosts customer retreats to hear what people need from his service. He then uses his customers’ feedback to modify Truckstop’s service.
Growing pains creep up on small business owners in different ways today than when Mr. Moscrip was growing his business, and he outlined some of the biggest differences. Today, the first two people a startup needs to hire are an HR manager and an accountant. Neither of these people adds any revenue, but they are necessary financial drains. These necessary costs are avoidable if you work with a program like Startup Aggieland that provides this type of infrastructure for affiliate startups.
Mr. Moscrip’s decision to enter the world of trucking comes down to two simple factors: he saw the value in getting his foot in the door of a large-scale industry, and he saw a problem that he knew he could solve. Mr. Moscrip hopes to access just one percent of the trucking industry. The industry is so massive, that one percent will go a long way. Ross Perot made billions of dollars by computerizing Medicare records for six cents each. Mr. Moscrip believes that entrepreneurs just need to find a way to “make their six cents.” Mr. Moscrip noticed a massive inefficiency in the trucking industry, he developed an efficient solution, and he has been “making his six cents” ever since.
Mr. Moscrip shared insight on his business failures as well, including:
- Focus on creating solutions instead of writing reports for investors
- Be cognizant of current technologies so as not to overshoot your customers’ needs
- Starting a business requires a great deal of capital, so rely on family and friends for free labor, housing, etc. whenever possible
- Never be the smartest person in the room
- Break even quickly or pull the plug on your business if you realize you will not break even soon
Finally, Mr. Moscrip stressed the power of word of mouth marking, which is the driving force behind Truckstop.com. Entrepreneurs need to make their customers love the product so much that the customers want to tell others about it. To do this, entrepreneurs need to (1) focus on delivering return on investment to each customer and (2) truly listen to their customers’ concerns.