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Revolutionizing trucking paperwork

This time, we’ll be talking with Kevin Ziegler, the CTO and Co-Founder of Navix – a platform that improves trucking paperwork and freight invoicing. Get to know him better 👇

Ep 14: Revolutionizing trucking paperwork - graphic1

Revolutionizing trucking paperwork – with Kevin Ziegler

During our conversation, Kevin told us about his journey of becoming the CTO and Co-Founder of Navix.io – a modern Software-as-a-Service platform that, thanks to freight invoicing experts, solves various audit headaches. We also discussed different aspects of the logistics industry, what kind of innovations we can expect at Navix, how they use AI to improve their services, and much more! Meet Kevin!

Points covered:

  • Kevin’s background and professional journey
  • The history behind Navix
  • Navix’s MVP and overall beginnings
  • Navix – accomplished milestones and plans for the future
  • How technology advanced within the past 10 years
  • Digitization in Logistics
  • Freight industry challenges
  • “Paper still drives this industry”
  • Supply chain management
  • Automation and AI at Navix

About Kevin

Kevin is a Co-Founder and CTO of Navix.io, a cutting-edge Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that helps companies in the logistics and supply chain industry to streamline their operations and gain greater insight into their freight spending. The platform, which was founded in 2020, utilizes freight invoicing experts to automate processes and provide white-glove auditing services for 3PLs and brokers. Navix’s API-first approach allows for seamless integration with other systems, and its AI-driven analytics enable companies to increase profitability.

With over 20 years of experience in the field of IT, Kevin has a diverse background that includes software development, systems infrastructure, networking, and business intelligence. In recent years, he has been focused on helping organizations build, migrate, or improve their cloud maturity and DevOps processes. Today, Navix is trusted by leading companies in the logistics and supply chain industry, processing over $1 billion in freight annually.

Recently, we also asked him a few questions to get to know him better – read them here.

Intro 0:01
Welcome to the ‘How We Innovate’ podcast presented by Applandeo hosted by me, Wiola and my co-host, Bryan. On this podcast, we talk with leading innovators, pull back the curtain on their industry, and get to know how they use technology to achieve success, as well as share the story behind them and their businesses.

Host – Bryan 0:24
Welcome to the ‘How We Innovate’ podcast number 14 presented by Applandeo. We have a very special guest, Kevin Ziegler, CTO of Navix. Kevin, thank you so much for joining us today.

Guest – Kevin 0:37
My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Host – Bryan 0:41
Great. You know, usually we start with just like a brief introduction, maybe a bit about yourself and your background.

Guest – Kevin 0:49
Sure, yeah. My, my IT background probably began when I was about eight, nine years old when we got a Commodore VIC 20 and began developing some simple games on that application on that computer. You know, looking forward, I went to school at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point I intended to become an orthodontist, but I quickly changed my mind after biology and chemistry kind of kicked my butt. I switched to a degree in Computer Computer Information Systems, which is kind of a unique major. And shortly after that, I after school, I took a job working as a COBOL programmer, which is going to make me sound ancient, I’m not that old. But it was working for a banking company that needed, you know, needed significant COBOL developers quickly switched into some windows programming. And shortly after it at about the age of 26 started a business with a business partner we basically developing software. One of our very early clients was a company called Evans transportation, which we did everything for them, we develop their software, we develop their, we deploy desktops, we did wiring got a lot of exposure to everything in IT. But most of what we did was developed software for them. We then kind of developed a niche market in making bowtique TMS systems is probably a good way to put it. Working with third party logistics companies throughout the United States kind of making customized TMS systems firm. I did that for about 12 years and sold sold that stake in a business since then kind of managed a number of development teams in the Milwaukee Wisconsin area. And then got back into maybe, you know founding co founders of startups working with a company that developed a paywall technology, that was a lot of fun. I think we might have been a little bit too early in our time period, though, where I was a CTO and also did something similar with an oil and gas company that unfortunately, ran out of money abruptly. All of these things kind of led me into the cloud, I got very involved to being in the cloud, it kind of changed my world, mostly at the startup company that developed the paywall specifically focused around Microsoft Azure, it was just amazing to me what you can do in the cloud to be able to fire up a new virtual machine or not even have to deal with virtual machines. So I shifted focus to become a cloud architect did a number of consulting engagements, there was some very large companies either helping them kind of become better at using the cloud or start using the cloud. And then an opportunity dropped into my lap about a year and a half ago from one of the the CEO of Evans transportation reached back out to me and said, Hey, we’ve got we’ve got this concept we’re looking at of building a company that will make the process of automating and paying freight invoices much easier and kind of describes a little bit about a proof of concept they worked with internally and the business need around the industry. And I was immediately sold. And that’s how I became involved as employee number two, with Navix.

Host – Bryan 4:17
Yeah, so I guess So Kevin, I guess you’re kind of like an OG technologist, right. So. So maybe over even just the past 10 years, in your point point of view, how much has technology advanced? Right, and maybe even just in terms of cloud and all that?

Guest – Kevin 4:35
Yeah, I mean, thinking back, you know, to where I was at even even 10 years ago. You know, it was definitely I’d say, you know, kind of on the verge of the web 2.0 process at that point where people were going from, you know, making more sophisticated web applications, you know, even then it was very early on in AI and machine learning. You know, thinking back at some of the applications I was I was working with teams at the time, you know, there’s a lot of BB six, even still happening at that time, granted, it was a little old even then. So really taking a look at, you know, some things like, you know, these aren’t even necessarily huge technology gains and more processor understanding, but dealing with UX teams, you know, prior to 10 years ago, I don’t I don’t think I’ve ever even heard the term of user experience or a UX designer. Likewise, you know, there wasn’t even a huge separation between front end and back end, you know, developers at that point in time, it was, you know, you you built an application, and, and this is the application you will use. So I think, within this last 10 years, really taking a look at how users use applications, and you know, developing around them has really come a long way in the last 10 years. And likewise, I have definitely matured a lot thinking back to applications that I may have made, you know, 15-20 years ago, frankly, I mean, they’re, they’re terrible looking back at them, they weren’t really designed around the users. But, yeah, again, the cloud has been a major major, disrupter insane in terms of technology, where you don’t have to wait six months to get a new machine installed, or to get things licensed. The ability to scale up and down the ability to take advantage of built in functionality in the cloud, whether serverless functions or, you know, some of the analytics pieces, again, AI and ML that the jumpstarts that you can do with most of the cloud providers. It’s amazing. It’s really just frankly, amazing. Still amazed by.

Host – Wiola 6:44
Yeah, So Kevin, speaking of automations, and digitization of industry, in general, with this logistics niche, we kind of feel like, there is still a lot to do. And logistic companies are kind of hesitant to digitize, would you agree with that?

Guest – Kevin 7:05
I certainly wood although not all, of course, there’s some that would love to if we are one of those companies that would love the digitization. But it’s a really interesting industry in that they’re, you know, paper is still very important in this industry. I mean, despite our our wishes. One of one of the biggest challenges, you know, that we have as an audit company, and honestly, I see this as an opportunity in the way that we’re automating this process is, as we are receiving free invoices, these invoices, generally, especially if they’re coming from a truckload company. I’m not 100% certain of these stats, but I’ve heard that 80% of truckload companies in North America have less than 10 employees. That likewise is you’d assume, then they’re not very tech savvy, a lot of owner operators who own the business are also driving the trucks. So they’re still very reliant on paper, they still need a signature on a piece of paper, when they deliver that freight, taking that piece of paper, and, you know, moving that forward through our audit process can be challenging, you could lose pieces of paper, you know, they may get lost under the passenger side of the truck, you know, after they’ve gotten the signature. So we will, we need to get that signature. In most cases, with many of our invoices, and a lot of our audit steps, many of our audit steps, I should say, rely upon going back to that trucking company and asking for that proof of delivery or that delivery receipt. You know, what we’re trying to do is really make that process as frictionless as possible, respond with a text message to you know, after you’ve taken a picture of this after it’s been on your driver’s seat, instead of having to get back to the office, you know, send it through a scanner, you know, attach it to an email, don’t make sure I got the right email address. So, one example of many that, you know, we’re trying to at least add a little bit easier of digitization in this area. You know, I think there definitely is, you know, again, the low the low bar here is dealing with the companies that don’t have the sophistication to build or buy or develop the technology that they need to. And I think you know, from what I see, that’s probably going to make sure that paper is a part of these transactions for quite a long time going forward. Now, I think there are definitely some good steps that have been made in this industry, you know, most invoices that we are receiving, you know, 99% of them are not coming in the mail anymore, that’s a big step forward, to be able to receive that invoice immediately to receive it electronically so that we can send it through our system automatically extract the information out of these. Documents is is definitely a big step forward. But, you know, paper papers still drives this industry for for better or worse.

Host – Bryan 10:09
And you know, I guess maybe is that because you think it’s such a like a legacy industry right where, you know, as you said, there’s just so many people who are hesitant to change, right? Because if it’s worked in the past, it’s going to work now. Right. But I don’t think a lot of those people understand just how much time they’re wasting with these tasks, right, that I think Navix is trying to solve, right?

Guest – Kevin 10:33
Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. You know, as I’m sure we’ve all done signatures with like an electronic UPS or FedEx device, you know, they’ve got the ability to build that technology, and drive digitization of some of those documents. You know, even if we were to take, let’s say, the smallest truckload company, you know, I think having consistency among all the people that those truckload carriers work for is another issue. So, oftentimes, they’re going to be contracted by a third party logistics company, which might be using one system, they’ve got their own documents that they need to do. So the easiest way that they probably have to get these documents in the hands of an actual driver who’s delivering this freight is through paper, it’s kind of that lowest common denominator. I think, you know, I kind of think about this almost similar to blockchain. Not that, you know, it’s a perfect way to look at this. But again, a blockchain I think, has a lot of challenges in the world, because you have to get so many people on board, to use blockchain to really take advantage of some of its capabilities. You know, I’ve often thought that, you know, using Blockchain for something like card titles, house titles would make a lot of sense. But there’s whole industries around those that you know, are probably hesitant to, you know, jump on board. Similar similar with the paper, you know, if I were, if I were a third party logistics company, and I needed to use, let’s say, a certain application that could digitize this freight, it’s probably going to make life a little bit harder for that driver who’s delivering it, he’s going to have to keep track of Acme Corporation uses this application to digitize this freight. You know, ABC company uses this application to digitize this freight. I think it’s probably easier for those drivers to have to deal with paper because of just consistency. You know, there’s definitely friction in using paper. But it’s probably a little bit easier than having the driver use 20-4-100 different applications, depending upon who their client is going to be in this industry.

Host – Wiola 12:46
Do you think is that like the freight industry becoming too much SaaS oriented?

Guest – Kevin 12:52
Yeah, I don’t think so. And I think that, you know, there’s there’s a lot of innovation that’s happening in supply chain right now, I think the past couple of years have especially triggered a lot more innovation in this area. I think all the complexities that come along with managing freight from pricing to securing, you know, the proper carrier, trucking company, or whatever mode of transportation, it is, those, figuring all those things out or even getting more and more complicated over time. Thinking back to, you know, the 2000s, I began to wonder, you know, with the proliferation of third party logistics companies that happened at that time, like, why is this happening? Why if I’m, if I’m a company, that a manufacturer, why can’t I just do this on my own and save some money. But you know, then as I got deeper and deeper into this industry to learn more and more about what the complexities are, again, like, like I’ve already mentioned, securing the proper companies to be able to move the freight, the pricing that goes along with it, dealing with the audit side of things, all of these things get so complicated integrations with other systems, you know, still a very large problem in this industry. I think it really takes specialists to know the very, very, maybe small lane that they’re going in, in this industry. Where I think some of the challenges that do exist, perhaps with the third parties today are the integrations between the systems. There’s, I think, a lot of lot of great companies trying to address some of these these integration needs right now. But there’s a lot of legacy systems that aren’t the easiest to integrate with. And in some cases, I think that’s intentional. But I think all of these little products are really addressing, you know, a very specific need to that I think will help the industry in the long term.

Host – Bryan 14:50
Yeah, and you know, I think that that’s a good way to pivot right? I think we got a pretty deep into the conversation without even talking about what Navix is it where’d the idea come from? And what are some of the problems that you’re looking to solve?

Guest – Kevin 15:04
Yeah, so from Evans transportation, as I mentioned earlier, they they began to realize a couple years ago, you know, back in 2019-2020, they, they were trying to figure out how better to audit their invoices really kind of starting with that piece. In the application, they were using, it took, you know, 70 different mouse clicks to audit each one of the invoices that was going through their system, they thought there’s, there’s got to be a better way. They looked in the industry to find a solution that may fit their need, you know, a third party provider in this particular case, and they didn’t find a good fit for them. While there have been other freight audit companies that have existed for decades, most of them are either focused on the shipper themselves, or have a very manual, you know, think of stacks of paper and an adding machine where people are going through this audit process. There wasn’t a great solution that worked for third party logistics company. So they built an internal application to kind of address that need, they would be able to export information from their TMS system into this hyper focused application to perform the audits. While they were building that application, they began to, you know, can I connect with some of their peers in the industry to understand, are you having the same issue? What are you doing to address it? And that’s about the time that I got involved in middle of last year, summer of 2021, we started taking a look at this application that was developed, we can we quickly determined, okay, this, this internal use application has a lot of great ideas in it to keep analysts hyper focused on this audit procedure, while automating some of the processes of reading shipments, especially in the LTL side. And building integrations with other systems, we realize we probably need to start over but take some of those original ideas from that application to build even a better user experience for the analyst using these applications. And really, you know, make sure that security is is front of mine, to have a very flexible business rules engine that could drive exceptions that happen in the audit process. So that we could make business rules that could be as finite, as you might imagine, maybe it’s a customer carrier combination in a certain mode. And maybe we see an adversarial type for one of those that provides an exception in a in an audit process. So we’ve we really began development, just about a year ago. In fact, yesterday, we finished Sprint 26. We’re on a two week sprint cycle. And I just dawned on me yesterday, this was we’re now one year into this process 52 weeks after we started our first sprint.

Host – Wiola 18:11

Guest – Kevin 18:13
Thank you, thank you is an important milestone. It kind of funny way that we ran into it. So we put our software to production a couple of months ago for the first time and are you know, connecting with various different systems, transportation management systems, rating engines that we need to connect to, in some cases, accounting systems? And some other third party systems that are some of our clients are connecting to so that that’s where we’re at today?

Host – Wiola 18:46
Yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s great. Congratulations again, Kevin. So yes, in your website, you put it in this in a very nice way that Navix is built by freight industry veterans solving their own back office problems. Like what, what actually was the first thing you released? And what was the biggest challenge you met on the way?

Guest – Kevin 19:12
Yeah, yeah, maybe maybe it’s a good point to even look at that that first application that I inherited, that Evans transportation created. That application, again, did a really good job of kind of building up these work queues that allowed analyst to specialize in certain types of exceptions. Some of those exceptions may be because there were contract or LTL rating issues that came in on an invoice. Other things might be dealing with duplicate invoices. That’s a huge problem in our inner industry. That the first application is we were really taking a look at that. Again, did did a great job of kind of coming up with these ideas of ways to kind of have very specific work queues, and it did an okay job at it connecting to the systems that we need to integrate with including a TMS system and a rating engine. You know, some of the challenges that we quickly realized were that we needed a very, a much more flexible rules engine to drive, which, which are the invoices, we need to take a look at? What are some of the things that we could do to automate the vetting of these invoices. In it quickly, that again, that’s kind of where we pivoted and said we should, we should start making a new application. Then, as we were really focused on what’s called V2 MVP, our primary focus was making a single screen that an analyst would land on, that would have just about everything at their fingertips to make decisions about how they’re going to move forward with this invoice. There’s a lot of data that gets tied to a shipment that gets tied to an invoice. Not all of that is necessary in most of the cases of an auditing an invoice. So we found a fantastic UX designer who helped us build a screen that makes it very clear where the problems on an invoice are, what actions they need to take moving forward, and made it very intuitive. We want to do avoid any on screen help, we wanted to avoid even having any type of a training program that if you were at least familiar with the freight industry, you could open up our application and perform an audit day one of your job. With some of the with the early MVP, my my thoughts about integrating were to kind of build an internal team that would really, you know, facilitate the integrations with other systems. Some of the challenges we ran into very early on were that some older TMS systems are not the easiest to build integrations with. So while we do have an internal team that can build some integrations, we quickly realized that in some cases, we’re better off connecting with with partners of those TMS systems that have the experience, you know, pulling data from those systems pushing data from those systems, just because of the way that the integrations work in some of those systems were so outside of the normal, especially from a modern development standpoint. So we’re still working on some of those issues. And honestly, you know, integrations are probably one of the things that I thought would be easier than they are in this industry. You know, thinking thinking of some other industries I’ve been in recently, you know, medical and other places. Integrations are, you know, usually part of the core system, you know, open API’s that you can connect to, that isn’t necessarily the way that things work in the logistics space. So while we are still building out in our core platform today, circling back to the MVP question, you know, some of the things that we’re now hyper focused on is automating, you know, let’s automate more and more of the process of the audit itself, you know, trying to reduce the human element that’s involved with each one of the audit steps.

Host – Wiola 22:33
So speaking of automation, maybe let’s talk a little bit more about AI, that’s behind it, as Navix offers this AI driven data. And so how do you? How do you actually utilize it? Like in what way you’re using AI to, to get the most relevant data?

Guest – Kevin 23:59
Yeah, that’s great question. We’ve got, you know, a really interesting set of data. I was I was talking, you know, early on at Navix to an industry veteran who told me that was telling him about the, you know, what we’re building and he said, wow, he’s like, ‘You guys have the most amazing data. After you’re done with your audit steps, your your data is probably the most complete.’ And, you know, that kind of was a lightbulb moment for me like, ‘Oh, you’re right,’ you know, are our data is just as valuable as the process we’re performing for our clients. I think like a lot of people in the space, we’re still learning all the different ways that you know, machine learning and AI can help us but it’s really taking our sets of data, you know, running them through machine learning to kind of understand, you know, here’s the data before we started. Here’s what the invoices look like before we processed them in our system. And here’s what the invoice cases look like after they came out of our system. Some some examples, you know, that have really helped us out would be cases of specifically in the LTL space where we’re dealing with wrong pricing information. That’s one of the biggest challenges we see in LTL is that when an invoice comes in, it wasn’t using the correct pricing contract that it should have

Host – Wiola 25:28
And why is that?

Guest – Kevin 25:30
You know, I think it’s because of complicated Pricing Agreements that happen. So a third party logistics company may have dozens and dozens of Pricing Agreements with even a particular carrier. Some of those might be just general Pricing Agreements, some of those might be based upon certain lanes of transportation they’re working on, some of them may be may give more favorable pricing to a certain type of freight that a company manufactures. So with all those things said, inevitably, even the LTL carriers might get their pricing wrong. So while the third three PL recognizes for this customer, this lane in this shipment, I should be using x contract, the carrier moving the freight may not always put all of those pieces together to pick the right contract that they’re using. And honestly, you know, some some carriers are much better than others in the space, and some are worse worse than others. So running, running some of that data through our system with the ability to connect to our clients, LTL reading engines, we’re able to figure out how to automatically adjust some of those invoices in this space, so that we can pick the right contracts that get associated with that LTL freight. That was a big win for us, you know, some of the other pieces that we are starting starting to look at. And again, like I said, AI and ML is kind of a journey that you know, is likely going to, you know, go on forever, we’re going to constantly try to figure out, what’s the next thing that we’re able to automate through our ML AI process is looking at even the documents that we’re ingesting, applying some AI, ML for the ability to read documents that may not be the easiest to read, or the ability to automatically classify different types of documents that are coming into our system, as well as pull the information out of them are our primary interest in reading documents is ideally everything on the invoice is what we need. But oftentimes, that doesn’t happen. So as we receive an invoice, we as I mentioned earlier, we do want to get that proof of delivery that comes along with that, that invoice along with any other supporting documentation that may be necessary. There are things like lumper receipts or reweigh certificates or other documents that are kind of conditionally required to come along with that invoice. If we see a new document type that we’ve never seen before, we want to be able to figure out what that is. So the next time we see one, it’s it’s automatically going to be understood and ingested within our system.

Host – Bryan 28:22
Yeah. And I think especially now AI especially with this open chat AI, right, it’s just taken the world by fire.

Guest – Kevin 28:30
That’s for sure.

Host – Bryan 28:31
Very, so you’ve used it right. So yes, I guess from your perspective, right, I guess is this like, separate from Navix? Is this like the coolest thing in terms of machine learning AI that you think has been on the market that’s been able to be used by millions of people so far?

Guest – Kevin 28:51
Yeah, I definitely think it is, you know, I think there’s a there’s a couple of really exciting things in this space. That’s one of them. You know, I I saw somebody, you know, mentioned the other day with with chat chat GPT. Is it? Is Google even going to be relevant anymore? You know, Google has kind of made their fortunes and chorus in search engines. And, you know, I asked a number of questions to the, you know, chat GPT program asking, you know, things that I might ask Google. And, you know, the answers it provides are quite amazing. So I definitely think it is a huge, huge disrupter that’s going to affect the number of businesses very soon. I’ve also been additionally amazed I am not a creative, artistic person, but the Dall-e program in terms of automatically making art projects I’ve, you know, sat down with my daughters who are more creative than I am to just, you know, make a painting for me that’s of Kevin Ziegler. It’s a watercolor and I’m sitting on a bench on a Florida beach. It’s downright amazing.

Host – Bryan 30:01
Yeah. And I guess maybe to wrap it up a bit, right? So I guess as the CTO of Navix, right, so how big is your current development team? What’s your current tech stack? And do you foresee any challenges with the current tech stack? Maybe in terms of scaling?

Guest – Kevin 30:21
Sure, yeah. Our development team right now is about eight people. That includes our developers, UX person, QA people, we’re about to add a couple more. And right around the corner, we very soon I don’t know how much I can divulge in this. But we, we have some funding coming very soon with our company, that’s going to dramatically increase the size of our development team. Our tech stack, we use .net core C# for our back end, we use Angular for our front end. We use Microsoft Azure. As I mentioned earlier, that’s been kind of my focus. And as a cloud provider. I think some of the some of the challenges we may see when it comes to scaling is to I’d say probably we’re in we have somewhat of a microservice architecture right now. There’s a couple of deviations we took intentionally with, with the architecture we’ve built. In order in order for us to move fast as we were developing this platform. I think that one of the things and we knew this going into this is that we might need to, you know, become a true microservice architecture, to be able to scale individual API’s, as time goes forward. Our API’s are individually hosted on their own platforms. But we do have one single database that we’re using. So you know, the challenge may be scaling the database itself, maybe we do need to split up the database into individual pieces as time goes on. I am confident though, as you know, a cloud architect and you know, my previous roles, that we will be able to scale our application to enormous level. You know, the database, again, is probably my biggest concern. But, you know, it’s the beauty of the cloud is, you know, we can move that slider bar over through infrastructure as code to make our database, you know, bigger, bigger, bigger as needed, you know, there comes a point in which you might say, Well, I mean, this database is so large, we know, we’re going to be better off splitting it in individual pieces. I think in terms of scaling the company, we, in addition to the software that we provide for companies, and I didn’t mention this earlier, is that we have, we have a team of auditors based in South America that provide the human in the loop services to our audit process. While our ultimate goal is to automate as much as we can, we, there’s never going to be a spot where everything is going to be automatable. So most of our clients outsource this full process to us where our software and our people are the ones auditing the freight. In, we have a pretty large team down there. And as time goes on, what we want to do that’s going to help us scale even better is really, you know, take that large team that we’ve got, and make their jobs so much easier. So that we don’t have to necessarily increase the size of that team, by very much that honestly, that team has probably been one of our one of our scaling issues lately. So where we can automate our systems, I think it will actually make us scale easier from that tech side, because scaling from the people side is honestly a little bit harder to do. So yeah, I’m really happy the way we’ve developed our software, the spot in which we’re at, you know, we understandably took on some some pieces, I mentioned the architecture, that would create some technical debt for us in the future. But moving fast is one of the more important things as we started developing the software, you know, trying to address this market fit, you know, quickly was our main objective as we started things out.

Host – Wiola 34:18
Yeah. So it’s actually the fact that you’ve managed to build this platform with this team of, I guess, like six to eight people, as you said, it’s pretty amazing. So can you share a little bit with us? Like what’s on your roadmap?

Guest – Kevin 34:35
Yeah, yeah, sure thing, so automating automating automating is really, you know, some of our next biggest focuses that we’ll be working on, you know, in the next couple of quarters, inevitably, probably for the next several years, trying to automate as much as we can. Some of the other things on our horizon we’ll be looking at things like building a carrier portal or a vendor portal, where we can provide an interface for trucking companies or, or whatever mode of transportation, we’re auditing, to be able to log into a portal and do things like find all of their open invoices, find any exceptions that they are able to mitigate on their own. Maybe that’s uploading documents, maybe that’s answering some questions. Another portal from even just an approval side of things. Oftentimes, you know, we’re not only dealing with the payables that we deal with in freight, but in many cases, we’re also dealing with receivables. So our primary clients are transportation brokers and 3PL companies. So they, they’ve got the carrier side, and they’ve got their own customer side. So building a specific portal that allows our customers, our tenants, to be able to approve invoices, and also just give them a unique view of what their outstanding invoices look like, what other steps that they may have to perform in their systems. Those are probably some of the bigger projects we’ve got in the next I’d say 12 to 18 months.

Host – Wiola 36:11
Just okay, so just one more question related to that somehow. What’s your feedback loop? What’s your process of collecting feedback?

Guest – Kevin 36:20
Yeah, yeah, great, great question. So we have a terrific person our VP of Customer Success, his name is Wil Kratz. He has the most direct contact with our customers, he’s got 20 plus years of audit experience in this area. It’s a fantastic person to have on our team. He’s got a lot of, you know, weekly meetings, in most cases directly with our customers to kind of understand what their needs are going to be. Wil also has a unique background in tech. So he also kind of understands, you know, how that relates to our product roadmap going forward. That’s a very important point for us. Additionally, we are very close to Evans transportation that company we spun off from, and they always have a lot of terrific ideas that you know, kind of get factored into our roadmap or, you know, even little ideas that get factored into what happened in our product lifecycle. We also have two weeks sprint demos, you know, and maybe the smaller scale of things where we are inviting some of our main stakeholders, you know, that as you would expect, so that includes the, the primary users of our applications, and in some cases, that that does even involve our clients, as well as our audit team in, in South America, where we are, that’s our whole purpose of showing them these, you know, what we’re doing every two weeks, so that they can keep up to date, so that we’re shortening that feedback cycle, you know, there’s something that we finished up, and they have a little bit of a tweak to, you know, that that’s what we want to find out through our user demos. Additionally, there are some companies that we talk to often that are not clients of ours, they’re just very happy to kind of be a part of, of helping us out, we kind of query them, you know, almost as a, you know, sort of informal focus group to be able to identify what their needs are, what their challenges are, what are some things that would help them out? You know, it’s a pretty unique situation, you know, not even having them as a customer that we can be very frank about, maybe some challenges that we Navix have, what they have, and kind of build some of those factors into our roadmap as well.

Host – Bryan 38:40
Awesome, awesome, Kevin. So this is the point where we do some rapid fire questions, just to get a little bit know about more about the guest. So let’s see, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Guest – Kevin 38:55
Great question. I, somebody, it was a couple of years ago, it’s something that’s that’s stuck in my mind. I once had somebody told me a long time ago, like Kevin, you’re, you’re lucky, you’ve had a lot of interesting experiences in this industry. You know, you’ve you’ve, you’ve had a good career, you’ve got a good family, you know, lots of was focused on the lucky and I, I was kind of, I don’t know, slightly offended by that comment, to be honest, like, okay, but, you know, as time goes on, that kind of stuck in my head. And a couple of years ago, somebody told me, you know, I was kind of relaying that that statement that I had heard and they said, You make your own luck, which kind of changed my perspective on that, that comment from years ago, meaning, I really try to connect with a lot of people. I go to a lot of networking events. I go to a lot of startup events in Milwaukee conferences. I like just connecting with a lot of people. I am I’m a very curious person, I like asking people a lot of questions and kind of getting to know them as well. And I think, you know, making your own luck became something that kind of stuck in my head realizing, okay, well, if I’m not talking to these people, you know, they’re not going to know what I do, I’m not gonna have the same opportunities of dealing with them. Or if I, you know, don’t go to this event tomorrow, whether it’s a virtual event or something that’s happening in person, I’m not going to meet anybody there, nothing’s ever going to become of that. So I think the the concept of making your own luck is, is, you know, kind of turned into, you know, put yourself out there, you know, get to know new people, go learn new things. And by that, you’re really probably, you know, to boil this down, you’re creating more opportunities for success, you know, essentially creating your own luck.

Host – Wiola 40:58
Yeah, that’s true. Speaking of meeting new people, so the, the following question would be, what’s your favorite place to travel?

Guest – Kevin 41:07
I am, my travel interest is really focused around culture. I’m very interested in culture, when we go to places I’m not a huge beach person, despite my family’s wishes. So, you know, I think I think my favorite place that I’ve been to is probably been to Italy, you know, been to a number of places in Italy, Rome, Cinque terre, Venice, Florence. Just fascinating. I mean, the people, the food, the history that happens in those places, I that’s the kind of place I love to go. But I also like to go new places. So going back to the same place is not usually in my interest. Getting back to that culture issue. So, you know, there’s, there’s a lot more places I’d love to come. And I, you know, again, but really, to be immersed in that culture.

Host – Bryan 42:01
All right, let’s do one more. One more. All right. So do you have any companies that you look up to maybe or just people in general, maybe just technologists, their business perspective, some people that, you know, really inspired you over your professional career? Or personal career? Anyone maybe?

Guest – Kevin 42:22
Yeah, yeah. You know, I think there’s, there’s some, some larger companies that I pay very close attention to that, you know, honestly, you know, from a distance, I think they’re doing a lot of great things. I’ve, I’ve been very tied to Microsoft technologies. And most of my career, as you might may have learned from, you know, working with Azure, as well as, you know, C# and .net. So I think that Microsoft does really interesting things in this space. And I think they’re, they’re very, you know, inclusive, very innovative. I think, especially with the new CEO, I think he’s really kind of pushed them in a new direction that Microsoft hadn’t been before, you know, they kind of switching out of that the Ballmer eras into Satya Nadella, you know, vision for Microsoft has really been fascinating to watch for me. Let’s see, just trying to think about maybe some some smaller companies. You know, I think it’s hate to bring this all back to Evans transportation, but I think that they’ve been very innovative in the way that they’re managing transportation. I think the idea that this kind of, you know, Navix goes was kind of formed as a spin off of their companies, you know, obviously given me a great opportunity. But when when I when I originally got that phone call from Evans to talk about, you know, joining Navix as a new company, it was really the people at Evans that gave me tremendous amount of confidence in knowing this was a solution that was going to work, that we had a very high probability of success, because they’re very well connected in the space. They have, you know, when I started working with Evans transportation, you know, 22-23 years ago, I think there were five people, and now they’re, you know, a huge company with offices all around the country. And I think they’ve really became, you know, thought leaders in this space and very well connected. So, you know, I want to give credit where it’s due, you know, I think it’s the people that Evans that really, you know, came up with the original idea of Navix, and really kind of, you know, has helped transform this industry that we at Navix are now kind of handing over the baton and taking it from there.

Host – Wiola 44:43
That was Kevin Ziegler, an expert on cloud computing and CTO at Navix. Kevin, thanks for joining us today.

Guest – Kevin 44:50
My pleasure. Happy to do it. Thank you again for the opportunity.

Host – Bryan 44:53

Ending 44:54
Thank you for listening to ‘How We Innovate’. A podcast by Applandeo. Get your apps and web apps built today by visiting applandeo.com We’re Applandeo!