19-year-old entrepreneur skips college, raises $4 million for Portland startup

Fleet, a Portland logistics startup, raised the money in a round led by Hunt Technology Ventures.

Max Lock approached ice cream as no other 15-year-old had. He set out to find a better way to manufacture it.

Lock, now 19 years old and living in Portland, was working as an IT administrator at a pizza shop in his native Philadelphia when the restaurant started serving ice cream that just didn’t taste good.

Lock tried it once, was disgusted and set out to figure out a better way to make it. The high school student launched Schoolboy Ice Cream, which was quickly picked up by the pizza shop and eventually Whole Foods.

Lock now runs a tech startup specializing in reviews and quotes for the international shipping industry, an idea spurred on by his experience manufacturing ice cream and frozen yogurt containers overseas.

The Portland-based startup, called Fleet, recently announced it raised a $4 million seed round of funding, led by Dallas-based venture capital firm Hunt Technology Ventures.

Lock was about to head to college in San Francisco, where he was already enrolled in a coding bootcamp, when he decided to enter TechCrunch Disrupt, a prestigious pitch competition that draws investors galore. Lock entered with just an idea of a company – there had to be a better way to communicate with international freight forwarders, he thought.

The idea had come to him when he was running his previous company, Intergreen Distributors, which made frozen yogurt containers and other supplies.

“About 80 percent of my time was focused on making sure goods got from point A to point B,” he said. “It’s mind boggling to me that we can book flights online, but when it comes to the actual movement of goods, it’s all done through phone calls and emails and faxes.”

Lock was the runner-up at a 2014 Disrupt competition. He was approached by the Thiel Foundation, started by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and was awarded a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship.

The program pays young entrepreneurs to drop out of college and focus on other work – in Lock’s case, building companies.

Fleet, which now has 13 employees in its downtown Portland office, creates a way for companies to post shipping jobs online and have freight forwarders bid to complete them.

Lock launched the company originally in San Francisco, but relocated to find a lower cost of living and be closer to the shipping community.

Lock loves running and growing the company, and probably won’t attend college. His age hasn’t been much of an issue in the business community, he said. Most people don’t know how old he is, and don’t care.

“I made Fleet my priority over my social life,” he said. “I’m OK with the sacrifice I made there.”

Source: Seattletimes

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