A Cleveland Startup Wants to Bring Modern Hiring Practices to the Trucking Industry

How Drive My Way is applying dating app principles to an industry stuck in the past

Hands on a steering wheel

For the past few years, staffing shortages have affected a variety of American industries, creating new dynamics in hiring and new challenges in different fields. But one of the most impactful staffing shortages has come in the field of trucking, where a current shortage of nearly 80,000 workers has been devastating. The effects of that shortage aren’t contained within the field. Trucks move about 72 percent of America’s freight, drastically affecting supply chains. So how can we find more truckers? Cleveland startup Drive My Way believes it can help.

“We’re like popular dating sites, only we’re matching drivers with jobs they love,” said Founder, President, and CEO Beth Potratz. “We’re a next-generation recruiting marketplace that’s matching truck drivers with jobs based on that driver’s professional qualifications and personal lifestyle preferences. That could be the type of haul, type of run, schedule, benefits they’re looking for, or whether they want to travel with their 60-pound rottweiler — whatever it is that their needs are.”

The idea for Drive My Way dates back to the 1990s, when Potratz was working in Cleveland in a job where she was recruiting young engineers. She learned about the necessity of appealing to the person and saw an opportunity for the same kind of approach in trucking. She said the industry’s importance to the country was highlighted during the supply chain challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic but said issues are only growing. To her, driver turnover, staffing shortages, and a need to hire an estimated 1 million new truck drivers in the next decade makes the project a critical one.

“There’s still very much a need in trucking, and what I really love about it is that folks don’t even need to go to college for this — they can have a really viable career in the trucking industry,” she said. “But this generation has watched previous generations in trucking miss school and sports events and be on the road for long periods of time. They want to have it all, and we’re all about helping drivers live the life they want doing a job they love, and you really can.”

In Potratz’s view, trucking has lagged behind hiring modernization in other industries. To remedy that, Drive My Way provides matchmakers who help drivers articulate what they’re looking for and then find it for them. Some drivers might want to drive locally rather than nationally, while others might be interested in cross-country hazmat hauling. Some might not be able to do jobs that require certain permits, while others want to own their own truck or even business. The idea is that whatever a driver is looking for, Drive My Way can provide it.

“We’re making hiring personal by treating the driver as a consumer in the employment relationship, completely changing and personalizing the hiring process for both sides,” Potratz said. “For a driver, it’s about your preferences. We’re trying to make trucking sexy again to appeal to the next generation’s preferences and the lifestyle they’re looking for. On the employer side, we want to allow recruiters to recruit the way they’d want to be recruited. Rather than making it a transaction, we look at it as curating meaningful connections that can turn into lasting relationships.”

In October, Drive My Way closed a $4.4 million Series A funding round that will be used to bolster sales, marketing, tech, and more, helping the company scale. Along the way, it has had the help of a variety of Ohio organizations, beginning with its 2016 graduation from FlashStarts. In 2017, it won a $100,000 grant from the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise and eventually partnered with JumpStart, both of which are partners of Ohio Third Frontier. For Potratz, a Cleveland native, the warm response from the Ohio entrepreneurial community wasn’t surprising.

“It feels like Ohio is the home to so many entrepreneurs,” she said. “There’s this spark of innovation here and a desire to generally make a difference. People are out for the greater good and to support one another and uplift everyone.”

What comes next for Drive My Way? Potratz has big dreams and plans to continue to grow the company with increased investment and resources. But she’s already proud of the work the company is doing and says she’s motivated by the impact that could come from Drive My Way changing the trucking industry paradigm.

“I genuinely think that we can make a difference introducing trucking as a viable career to this next generation,” she said. “There are also a lot of folks who have already committed to trucking as their current career, and we make a difference in those people’s lives today. We had one man call in to speak to a matchmaker who has worked for years but hasn’t been in the job market forever and reached out to us because his wife got cancer, so he has to be home every day to take her to treatments. So, we’re helping people all the time.”

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