Arkansas Business Owner Joins Forbes Business Council
Founder and CEO of Arkansas-based technology startup FR8relay, Aayush Thakur, is on the fast track to changing how the trucking industry works in the United States, and the business world has taken notice.
Thakur was recently invited to join the Forbes Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for successful business owners and leaders worldwide.
Only a select few are invited to join the council. Potential candidates must have a proven track record of impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honors.
After being invited, Thakur had to undergo a series of screening interviews and reviews to ensure he and his company would be a good fit for the Council.
Being a part of the Forbes Business Council
As a council member, Thakur and FR8relay now have exclusive access to various resources, vetted business service partners, and networking opportunities with other business leaders to help the company and its CEO reach peak professional influence and success. Thakur will also be invited to share his expert insight on Forbes.com, where he will contribute to articles alongside other experts.
While Thakur recognizes the honor and privilege of belonging to the Forbes Business Council, his eyes are set on the future.
“I grew up in India in a very small area and never expected to be part of the Forbes Council or recognized, and although it’s nice, it doesn’t change the objective of setting up a successful company,” said Thakur.
“In the long term, I feel like if we can be successful as a company and actually do what we are saying we want to do, then I hope I can share my experience with other people in the group. So right now, I’m hoping that we can get really good connections and grow our company, and in the future, I want to be able to give back to this community.”
Overhauling the U.S. trucking industry
Born and raised in a small town in India, Thakur co-founded FR8Relay with COO Deme Yuan. The Bentonville-based company is working on mobility software that will match drivers with trailers and cargo in a relay model, so equipment and cargo can keep moving while returning drivers home daily.
The United States relies on trucking to move 72.5% of its freight, but the current system wastes fuel, mismanages capacity, and exhausts drivers. These inefficiencies cost $8 billion annually and compromise the sustainability of a crucial industry.
According to Thakur, the conventional point-to-point long-haul trucking model and the federal hours of service regulations cause equipment and cargo to spend half of the shipping time idling on the roadside, contributing to 48 to 64 tons of wasted carbon-based emissions and 3,500-4,500 gallons of wasted diesel fuel per truck annually.
By using FR8Relay’s novel software, the trucking industry could see a large increase in energy productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cut costs while increasing driver satisfaction by dramatically slashing wasted road hours.
The innovative idea is being supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). FR8Relay is also part of Tyson Venture’s six chosen start-ups focusing on energy efficiency initiatives.
“You could not find more differences between a truck driver and me. Truck drivers tend to be mostly white, older guys in very blue-collar jobs, and I have none of that. But we both agree that something needs to change,” said Thakur. “So, even though I got into the field by accident, the more I learn about the effort that these guys put in, the more we are passionate about trying to do something for them.”
Thakur stumbled into the idea thanks to his background in civil engineering and data science.
From India to Bentonville, Arkansas
Coming from a long line of engineers, he said becoming an engineer just made sense. But Thakur didn’t want to stay in a 9 to 5, so he deviated from his home’s track record to become the first entrepreneur in his family.
“I just wanted to do something that created an impact,” he said.
The data spoke, and Thakur saw he could make a difference in the transportation industry. After filing and being awarded the patent for his idea in 2018, he knew he had a unique idea. Then, after receiving four federal and two state grants, Thakur knew he was on to something.
Now on the fast track to success, Thakur is focusing on keeping his head down and diligently working to bring the FR8Relay idea into practical application.
“My main thing is making a sustainable change in something and because we are in the transportation field, I’m hoping that the relay model is universally adopted across the country, and it really changes the lives of truck drivers,” said Thakur. “And if I’m able to do that successfully in a sustained fashion – that it’s not just a five-year thing but a 30-year thing – then that’s what success is to me.”