Bill Catania of OneRail

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Bill Catania (founder and CEO) of OneRail, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of OneRail – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

The inspiration for OneRail began in 2015, when I purchased a refrigerator from a home improvement store. Since the fridge was in stock at the store, I assumed they would be delivering it to my house that day. They told me it would take 10 days to have it delivered, and I live half a mile from the store! That’s the thing: this wasn’t like the supply chain problems we are seeing these days – they just didn’t have a way to get it to me. So I set out to tackle that problem because I didn’t want other consumers to experience the level of frustration I went through that day.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

The biggest hurdle was recognizing the need to pivot. The first iteration of OneRail was an on-demand courier business, which we operated for three years before we started landing bigger retailers who we realized were all experiencing the same problems: limited capacity, lack of visibility, and lackluster customer experience. We knew then that we needed a platform. So we moved away from the model of assigning couriers to a particular zip code and began aggregating what has now grown to 8.2 million drivers in our national network, and relied on our powerful data and intuitive API to intelligently match couriers to deliveries in ways that optimize all aspects of the last mile.

What does the future hold for OneRail?

OneRail’s future is in being able to offer a fully optimized end-to-end delivery fulfillment solution, so we’re activating our built-in Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to provide warehousing. One of the customers we’re providing solutions for is an audio accessories retailer who has had problems with out-of-stock items. With our micro-fulfillment centers, our flex workforce, and our WMS technology, we’re able to see at the store level when the inventory hits a certain threshold, and immediately activate a daily replenishment shipment so they never run out of stock. Being able to provide warehousing capabilities is a game-changer for us, and for our customers.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Orlando?

Orlando is an amazing place to start a tech company. It begins with the fact that Orlando is the number-one inbound migratory market in the United States. We have a wealth of talent from the West coast and from Texas who’ve decided to make Orlando their new home. Even prior to this post-COVID migration, we’ve observed many great tech companies (from EA Sports to Luminar) build and scale their tech teams here in Orlando. The venture and angel investment scene is still relatively scant, but it’s nice to see Chicago Ventures, Bullpen Capital, and other out-of-state funds continue to deepen their investments in Florida companies.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be ready and willing to recognize the need to pivot, and never give up. The key to startup success is stamina. Many great companies fall short because they fail to pivot or adjust their product or go-to-market strategy, resulting in a poor product market fit and a lack of the data points required to attract necessary funding.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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