Mira Award winner FreightRover had one of those years in 2018 — the kind of year where everything comes together and people take notice of what you’ve accomplished. In the case of FreightRover, an entire industry took notice and it started in the spring when the supply chain finance company took home top honors as Best New Tech Startup.

“Winning a Mira Award really served as validation of the work we were doing,” said Lauren Howard, vice president of client success & marketing at FreightRover. “People started to take notice of us, reach out proactively to learn about our services, and to ask questions regarding our platforms. As a technology company operating in transportation, we were straddling two distinct industries. Winning the Mira Award afforded us the opportunity to get our message in front of both worlds to be better understood and embraced. It also established us as a trailblazer in supply chain technology, which fits perfectly for Indiana being a national leader in transportation and logistics.”

That recognition along with another high-profile industry award and plenty of effort by the small team led to a $500 million financing deal with New York-based asset-management firm Crayhill Capital Management LP, offering FreightRover more capacity to disrupt its industry.

“While the Mira Awards may be exclusive to Indiana, for us, they’ve had a national impact on our business,” Lauren said. “They bring additional credibility to our work. They serve as a connector of companies. They bring validation to the ideas we’ve work so hard to make a reality.”

We asked Lauren a battery of questions regarding the impact of winning a Mira Award and advice for those considering applying in the future.

Did your company experience some immediate gains after winning a Mira Award?

After winning the Mira Award, we received many interested investor calls from across the US. The award also brought a sense of comfort to potential partners. We’ve built our technology around connecting disparate industry-leading technologies in one platform. Having such a prestigious award attached to our work let those partners know they were making a sound choice in working with us and that our ideas were both innovative and meritorious.

Another impact is what the award did for our staff. It brought a huge sense of pride (the award sits front and center in our entryway). It also improved our candidate pool for new hires. People would often reference our Mira Award as a reason they learned about our company and decided to apply.

Since winning a Mira award, how has your company grown/transformed?

We’ve grown our staff by 36%, adding another nine positions.

We’ve outgrown our current 6,000 square foot space on the second floor of the Barrister Building, so construction is underway for an additional 8,500 square feet comprising the entire third floor of the building. It includes additional meeting rooms, offices and approximately 75 more workstations.

We’ve launched two new product lines since we presented for the Mira Award – SmartLTL and CarrierHQ – bringing our technology offerings to four. We have customers actively using all four platforms. Our focus now is expanding the capabilities of each service offering.

  • CarrierHQ offers a fleet services mobile marketplace with access to tools like pay management, load self-selection and insurance offerings;
  • PayEngine streamlines carrier payment processing to help free up working capital across the supply chain;
  • SmartLTL connects less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers to shippers, providing quote-to-dispatch capabilities in under 60 seconds; and
  • Freight xChange automates end-to-end truckload freight management by using a custom-designed exchange to help shippers locate carrier capacity.

What advice do you have for people considering applying for the Mira Awards this year? Is it worth it?

It’s a huge opportunity – treat it that way. It’s important to help the audience understand your business. The judges likely know technology, but they might not understand the problem your company solves. Make sure your submission and presentation paint the picture of how you are transforming the space or solving a problem.

It is absolutely worth it! In addition to the benefits we’ve outlined in previous questions, members of the startup judging panel have continued to mentor us, which has been great. We’ve also made connections with other tech companies who we might not have had the opportunity to cross paths with otherwise.

How did you share the news of your win after the Mira Awards?

We started sharing it on our social platforms immediately that night! We also placed the Mira Award winner icon on our website. Mira Award winner for Best New Tech Startup is part of our boilerplate that accompanies every news release. We also included it in our award entry for the Freight.Tech 100, for which we were selected.

We also won the Mira Award two weeks before our one-year anniversary, so we included it in our celebration festivities.

What does it mean to you and your team to be Mira Award winners?

We are so incredibly proud of the award. When you are grinding it out daily to make your company a success, it’s not always easy to see the positive or the light at the end of the tunnel. Winning an award like the Mira helps you reflect on what all the hard work has been for and what’s been accomplished. It also makes you run harder and faster to stay worthy of the honor.

First, you hope to be selected as a finalist. Next, you just want to nail your presentation to the judges. Third, you see how deserving all the other finalists are and you prepare yourself for defeat among such a stacked deck of incredibly deserving, innovative companies. When you hear your name called, it is just such a tremendous joy and surprise. It’s a long walk to the stage and you’re thinking with every step, “Wow, we did it!”

The event is so incredibly nice and professional. It’s a fitting celebration for Indiana’s tech community and its contributors.

Applications are now open for the 20th anniversary TechPoint Mira Awards. Entries are due January 18, 2019.