Amari Ruff: Founder of a multi-million dollar trucking company born out of frustration

by Duke Magazine
Amari Ruff
Image credit: Respect Mag

Amari Ruff having a clear understanding of how his growing up was, from high school to college, and getting a job. He was determined and diligent by the time he got a job offer, and helped to grow the business to $4.5 million with a promise of getting promoted. 

However, the promise from the company was not fulfilled, and he braced himself up by moving on with life. It was at this juncture of grinding hard for survival that brilliant ideas started to tickle his mind in a bid to have an enterprise.

Fast-forwarding to today, Ruff is the chairman and the CEO of a multi-million dollar trucking company called ‘Sudu’. This company connects entrepreneurs, mostly underserved to huge companies such as Walmart and UPS.

Coining an idea of Uber for truckers, the company’s long term goal is to empower all small and medium-scale trucking companies, having a positive impact on the Atlanta technology community.

Growing as a young boy, Ruff   helped his mother to fend for the family. He and his two siblings got abandoned by their father, which had them no choice but to live in a slum. 

Ruff at that time was maneuvering between schooling and working as a commuter everyday, but was able to balance up with the two appropriately.

With the realization of his raw skills in entrepreneurship, he founded a telecommunications company with $300 in 2010 with a Ford Ranger. Fortunately, he was able to expand the coast of the business to over 200 trucks, and having presence in about five locations in the United States.

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His clear understanding about the underserved entrepreneurs (minorities, women, and veterans) needing a technological company to connect them with larger companies birthed ‘Sudu’.

Being launched in 2015, Sudu is a marketplace that employs the use of technology to connect small and medium-scale trucking companies to shipping/freight companies.

“When we first entered the market our initial focus was on minority, women and veteran-owned trucking companies. We work with all trucking companies, but we identified this group as the majority of the underserved market,” Ruff said in an interview with The Network Journal.

Ruff had been making reaching out to local trucking associations to enquiry about the operations and challenges of the industry.

From his observation, he was able to infer that 90% of all trucking companies had six or fewer trucks within their fleet and diverse truckers (minority, women and veteran owned) made up the larger population of the underserved market.

Image credit: AmericanInno

He said: “In order for the 90% to gain access to quality freight opportunities, they would need to have at least 100 trucks; access to capital; quality infrastructure; and be scaleable. So they go through freight brokers, which are glorified call centres with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people on phones making calls and sending faxes to complete transactions. Their only goal is to maximize margins off of every transaction with no value add back to the trucker or shipper.”

In the effort to bridge these gaps, Ruff was very aware of the need to proffer a solution to ease the operations of small-scale trucking companies, and the ability to be to bid for bigger contracts. 

He had a strategy, and that was “to harness diverse trucking companies and layer technology on top.”

“This would help corporations with supplier diversity initiatives meet their goals, provide better pricing due to leveraging tech (rather than human capital), and also help an underserved market be in a better position to make additional revenue without having to do anything different,” he said.

The name ‘Sudu’, which means speed and tempo in Chinese, speaks huge volume to the speed and efficiency the platform has provided the industry from a technological area of expertise.

Ruff as a tech enigma, has been able to attract the attention of tech conferences and seminars; he shared his knowledge at the Nelson Mandela Fellows Panel at Georgia Tech and the Build Your Own Brand (BYOB) conference in Washington, D.C.

The tech genius has been a recipient of big awards such as the 2016 NMTA Minority Business of the Year, the 2017 Georgia Trend Magazine Trendsetter, and the 2018 Atlanta Business Chronicle InnoVenture Award.

His enterprise is thriving so well that within the space of three years, Sudu company has been able to have a network of over 300,000 trucking companies. Apart from UPS and Walmart, the company is also in partnership with bigger companies like  P&G, Delta Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, and Georgia Pacific.

Through these partnerships, Sudu has been able to raise over $3m in venture capital, said Ruff, who also spends a lot of time mentoring at various accelerators in Atlanta.

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