Podcast: Reed Loustalot’s Journey From Casual Coder to Business Owner
What do you do when you realize there’s no simple way for brokers to find the necessary details they need to about carriers online? If you’re Reed Loustalot, you create a tool to fill that gap and make it publicly available—- creating his company, LOSTFR8.
In this episode, Reed sits down with host and Truckstop Chief Relationship Officer, Brent Hutto, to discuss everything that contributed to the LOSTFR8 brand journey, from kickstarting the prototype to using social media to fuel the brand’s growth.
From Casual Coder to Business Owner
Coding was never his professional aspiration so after being laid off from a role at Trimble, Reed took on a new sales role with an ex-colleague at Armstrong. Although it didn’t make him excited to work, it was his best option at the time.
In 2022, a good friend and colleague from Echo, Rob Bliss, asked Reed to join the sales team at MCG Logistics. While he was there, Rob mentioned to Reed that they needed a tool built and, since he had some coding knowledge, wanted him to help out. Although he was pretty certain he wouldn’t be able to achieve what they wanted, Reed said yes.
“That next day, literally, I spent the whole day just trying to whip something up and code instead of picking up the phone and calling customers; I literally just started coding.”
Those efforts seemed to pay off, as he quickly had a prototype. Over the next two months, he further developed it, creating the business now known as LOSTFR8.
Filling a Market Gap
As a carrier sales rep, Reed spent most of his time calling carriers and asking where their trucks were. There was never any information about carrier business available online, so it was always hard to figure out exactly what kind of equipment they already had, or even just find any information needed to offer them relevant opportunities.
Seeing this gap, Reed saw the opportunity to build a way to answer these questions proactively so opportunities could be made readily available for them. He explains the basic tool is a web page: “We literally just built a tool for them to cleanly input on a web page what lanes they run, where they have capacity, what kind of equipment they have, how to get in touch with them, like what their story was, their description or whatever.”
In the first iteration, each carrier essentially has its own profile, sort of like social media, that can be set to public or shared via private links. This meant they could simply go to the web page and update their contact info, lane preference, equipment type, etc. instead of calling someone like Reed.
Very quickly, Reed realized that carriers might not just think to go to the website. So, he built an email tool that lets carriers send all their info to their contact lists with little to no admin.
In its very basic form, LOSTFR8 is a marketing tool for carriers.
Marketing With No Money
In the early days of LOSTFR8, Reed didn’t have the money to invest in marketing efforts. However, he was really into Twitter, so he started posting memes and building up a following that he could invite to a Discord community with his co-founder.
With a new audience for his brand, he created an AI excuse generator for truck drivers prompted by “please advise,” playing on the constant concerns over AI replacing humans, and put it live online. It went semi-viral very quickly. Seeing this traction, he made a Please Advise branded hat, which wasn’t quite as successful at first, but has since gained traction, building a more loyal following for the brand. Social media and communication have truly been crucial in building up the LOSTFR8 name.
As Reed looks forward, his goal is to continue to do something meaningful for carriers and help them create a better business for themselves.