Where the past, present, and future converge
Dan Kao, CEO, Co-Founder
May 2, 2023
10 Mins
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At TruckSmarter, we’re focused on building great products for our country’s 3.5 million owner-operators and truck drivers. We spend a lot of our time working on the critical details that differentiate a good solution from the best solution. But sometimes to build the best, you need to take a step back.

This quarter, we hosted our first annual hackathon, one week when we set aside our day-to-day tasks and explore new, out-of-the-box ways to continue empowering truck drivers’ lives.

This year’s theme was “The Open Road.” Developing tech that serves truck drivers puts us at a unique intersection of the future and the past, specifically the future of exciting new technologies and the history of a foundational industry. Our goal is to use technology to support and elevate owners and drivers while honoring the industry’s legacy of freedom, self-sufficiency, and community.

The hackathon stakes were high: 14 teams competed to win. No idea was off limits. The results were extraordinary, from features designed to further connect our community to tools leveraging AI (artificial intelligence) to give drivers more visibility, transparency, and power. We presented our projects at the end of the week, but most importantly, we shared with some carriers from our community. Here are a few of their favorites:

1. TruckSmarter Social

Being an owner-operator can be a lonely job. You’re away from home on average 200 days out of the year and are frequently left in precarious situations to keep your business moving. Helping foster community is always top-of-mind at TruckSmarter and we wanted to explore ways to do this within the app. We can help connect owner-operators using our app and strengthen our internal community by alerting drivers when other drivers are in the area, creating platforms for them to jump on and chat, giving them a place to review their loads and brokers, and fostering healthy competition on a shared leaderboard.

2. TruckSmarter Dropped

Although the job is tough, being a truck driver is a rewarding experience and one to celebrate. We wanted to explore ways to use the information we collect in the app to benefit owner-operators in two important ways:

1. To create and share an annual snapshot of how they are using the app to better their business. It should be fun, relevant, and help them make informed decisions.

2. To share meaningful statistics about how our community supports the rest of the world. 
These should connect our drivers and the work they do to the world at large and engender appreciation and respect for this admirable job.

3. Digital Broker Rate Check

TruckSmarter Factoring supports over 2,000 brokers. However, the process of validating rates to approve payment largely consists of phone calls that are costly to everyone. We built a quick and easy tool to turn broker TMSs into an automatic rate checker so that we don’t need to call them, they don’t need to spend money staffing these calls, and owners can get money even sooner.

We launched this solution and are looking for more brokers to partner with to save on costs and help drivers and owner-operators get paid faster! Email brokers@trucksmarter.com if interested.

4. Automated, Phone-based Broker Rate Check

Some brokers may be hesitant about using an automated approach to verifying rates. To address this and turn around invoices faster, we can help automate the way we call to verify. The winner of our hackathon, this project was a conversational bot leveraging GPT-4 to make calls that can interpret natural conversations and ask follow-up questions to ascertain the requested data. This helps us get the information we need even faster to get drivers paid as fast as we can.

5. Fuel Cost Calculator

While still “new” to our business, fuel has continued to soar as we continue launching stops and more opportunities for carriers to save. A favorite here was our Fuel Cost Calculator that incorporates truck type, weight, traffic, elevation, altitude, weather, road conditions, and more to compute the most accurate fuel cost that a carrier can associate with any load.

We were excited about the results. With the right parameters our calculator will be able to better help owners more accurately determine their take-home pay after fueling up.


We’re excited to push the boundaries of this industry and equip drivers with the latest technologies to supercharge their businesses. While some of these hacks might not get launched, we’ll ship what we can and continue doing our best to serve our drivers.

Tell me what you think about these moonshot ideas. Your feedback could change our roadmap and help determine what’s next. Email dan@trucksmarter.com.

Interested in building industry-shifting solutions with us? Check out our opportunities here.