Carlos Suarez, founder and CEO of Truxx, appeared on Steve Harvey’s new reality show, Funderdome. Suarez won $15,000 for his startup that helps people find “your buddy with a truck.” Truxx is now raising a $1 million seed round.
Carlos Suarez, founder of Truxx, found himself moving all over globe before landing right here in Central New York. From Florida, to South America, to Detroit, and finally Solvay, right here in Syracuse, this entrepreneur is a trained industrial designer who loves making things that people find useful.
His idea came when the excitement of a newly purchased TV quickly turned to frustration when he realized that it would not be fitting in his Ford Focus. Looking around the parking lot, he wished he could just take one of the many trucks parked there for the simple purpose of getting his new TV home. Similarly, a close friend had a piece of dirty equipment in need of repair that he didn’t want to transport in his nice SUV. He also wished there was a truck available that wouldn’t mind a little dirty equipment.
While both anecdotes illustrate a need for a truck, both agree that it’s a true hassle to go rent a truck for these same purposes. When he founded Truxx in 2015, Suarez, an Uber user, was keenly aware of what potential users might want from that experience. He tells us, “User experience also goes with industrial design training.”
Suarez admits that he knew how to design but was less sure about founding a business, getting an app built, forming an entity, and all the other paperwork and sometimes tediousness associated with starting a business. Largely self-taught, Carlos hit the books and read as much as he could on these topics. He found a lawyer and created his C Corp and partnered with a developer. He sold his car to buy a pick-up truck and be the first driver to beta test his idea before officially launching in March of 2016. He pitched to anyone and everyone without fear of somebody stealing his idea.
His willingness to pitch as much as possible is what allowed him to meet the partners and angel investors needed to move his idea forward. His first pitch on Truxx was at The Tech Garden where he had just 1 minute to convince the audience of his idea. He went on to pitch at Rev in Ithaca, Salt City Shark Tank in Sky Armory, and others in Saratoga, Albany, and NYC. He used this to practice his pitch, gain contacts, and attract capital.
Through these pitches he connected with his now 3 other founding partners, all with an equity stake in the business. They are an IBM executive and two brothers who own Computer Emergency Room and multiple Subway franchises down in Binghamton. These 4 founders kept the business extremely lean and self-invested until they raised a small angel round for product development, insurance, and a small test ad campaign which was very successful.
On the Truxx app, a share on Facebook reduces your bill by $5. One such share caught the attention of a producer on Steve Harvey’s show Funderdome. Suarez and Truxx walked away with a $15,000 win!
Looking ahead, Truxx is seeking a $1 million investment to fund the next 12-15 months of product improvement and advertising in pursuit of retail partnerships. They already have a partnership with Sears in Chicago, Tampa, and Miami and have been utilized by other companies like Dunk & Bright locally. All funds are going to the business as none of the founders are taking a salary at this stage.
Suarez made it known that he thinks many people underestimate the startup community here in our region. He shared that when he began searching for answers, he was impressed and overwhelmed with the amount of people and organizations that could potentially help him on his startup journey and remarked how supportive he found the network to be. He noted that the people here love seeing and making things happen and would love to see Upstate New York known for its startup scene. I certainly agree!
What impressed me most in speaking with Carlos about his company is that he truly epitomized the mindset of doing something because it is right and because there is a need regardless of money. Being recognized for bringing a product and service to market that serves a genuine need is a reward in its own right. That being said, I’m sure the founders would love to reach a point where they can pay themselves from a job well done.