Andy Dishner and Ken Evans
“The Haslam College of Business provided a great foundation. The connections have been instrumental. We have stayed close over the years to many professors and fellow students."
What began as an idea in 2014 has turned into an innovative start-up for two Haslam College of Business alumni. Ken Evans (HCB, ’91) was working in supply chain management with a large corporation when he noticed a hole in the industry.
“I could see the trends coming in technology—smartphones and cloud computing would have a massive impact on the trucking industry,” Evans said. “However, the truck driver was two to three years behind the times in terms of technology.”
In 2016, Evans decided to make the leap to entrepreneurship. He was introduced by a friend to a like-minded innovator and fellow UT supply chain management alumnus, Andy Dishner (HCB, ’91, ‘09) and their company, Konexial, was born.
“The original idea was to bring technology to truckers using the devices at their fingertips—smartphones and tablets,” said Evans, Konexial’s chief executive officer.
The underlying concept for Konexial was to use this technology to reduce waste and increase productivity in the supply chain.
“About 20 to 25 percent of the time, drivers are driving empty trucks,” he said. “We could use technology to see waste and allow the free market to address it.”
Dishner, who had been working in supply chain, left his corporate role to join Evans as Konexial’s chief operating officer and bring digitization to transportation.
“The next thing I know, we’re jumping off the cliff without a parachute,” Dishner said.
This giant leap led to Konexial’s marquee product, an electronic logging device (ELD), My20. Named for the Citizens’ Band (CB) radio response 10-20, indicating a driver’s location, My20 gives drivers the ability to quickly log information using a smartphone application. This lean solution replaces the need for outdated mainframes and expensive software requiring constant updates. Instead of installing software in each truck, drivers can now use the subscription-based My20 app to complete necessary logistics, such as logging freight, mileage and other reporting.
“There are many different companies that provide telematic tools, technology inside trucks. What we’ve done is create an edge computing infrastructure,” said Evans.
Drivers can download the application to their smart device, and Konexial fluidly keeps the platform up-to-date, eliminating the need for a company to absorb the cost of expensive software upgrades. My20 provides drivers and companies with directions, fuel tracking, logging, reporting and a variety of fleet management tools.
“Our mission is to build superb technology and serve the players in the system, including drivers and owners,” said Dishner. “That’s more than building an app.”
Konexial found loyal customers among company owners and drivers who enjoyed the easy-to-use and efficient products. Evans and Dishner began to add to the suite of My20 products. The company’s additions responded directly to the customer feedback, filling the unmet needs of many drivers.
Their latest solution is GoMedRx, a telemedicine service offering drivers quick access to care.
“It can be extremely difficult for drivers to seek medical care,” said Dishner. “GoMedRx allows them to receive medical advice regardless of their current location. Given current health concerns, we saw this as a critical need.”
Konexial’s My20 products also include My20 Lens, a dash camera solution, and My20 Lock, a digitized locking system. The company’s founders see great potential for future growth. This progression is guided by direct engagement with their customers and quick responses to needs.
“It doesn’t matter how cool we think it is, if it doesn’t help drivers and fleets drive efficiency, it isn’t worth it,” said Dishner. “Many of the changes we make are from driver and fleet manager suggestions. Once you invite that buy-in, and customers tell you what they do and don’t like, you can respond with helpful changes.”
While the two entrepreneurs have learned much along the way, they say the biggest lesson they’ve learned has been implemented into the company’s service-driven mission.
“We take care of people. If you take care of people, the business will grow, and the money will come,” said Dishner.
And the business has indeed grown. Konexial now serves trucks and fleets in every state and thousands of carriers nationwide. Evans and Dishner attribute this to their commitment to superior customer service.
“Customers like the ease of use and the support. We are ushering in new technology for people who have been behind the wheel for many years,” said Evans. “Maybe you are good at your job but have a difficult time with new technology. We spend a lot of time saying, ‘Hey, it’s OK. We’re here for you.’ We want customers to know that we are available, and they are important—our customers make us successful.”
Building a startup is tough and requires support. Evans and Dishner point to the UT network as an important tool for their entrepreneurial success.
“The Haslam College of Business provided a great foundation,” said Dishner. “The connections have been instrumental. We have stayed close over the years to many professors and fellow students.
“We’re very plugged into conference and industry events, and you rarely find a time that you don’t bump into someone from UT,” said Dishner.
Evans and Dishner are an active part of this network, giving back by bringing their knowledge and expertise to programs in the Haslam College of Business. Konexial is a partner in the Haslam Global Supply Chain Institute, and both Evans and Dishner are active in the Supply Chain Forum.
“It’s been amazing to see how the Supply Chain Forum has grown over the years,” said Dishner. “It’s one of the best conferences that we participate in, and the level of connections is incredible.”
In 2018, Evans and Dishner further demonstrated their commitment to the future of the supply chain management industry by donating Konexial truck driving simulators and My20 ELDs to Haslam to help prepare students for the complexities of fleet management. They pointed to technology they experienced during their time as UT students as important building blocks for their innovative practices.
“Everything we use now started years ago,” said Evans. “Work done as an undergraduate planted the seeds that started a career.”