A digital freight forwarder launched by former Uber executives has raised $15m with investors including Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos and US venture capital firm 8VC.
UK-based Beacon, which describes itself as next generation freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, raised $15m in a Series A fundraiser to pay for new hires, technology and expansion. Bezos is reportedly the second-largest investor in the series.
Beacon was founded in 2018 by former Uber executives Fraser Robinson as chief executive, and Dmitri Izmailov, who is chief operating officer. They were joined by chief technology officer, Pierre Martin, who was previously at Amazon.
The management team say they can bring expertise across technology, logistics and finance to radically automate said simplify how companies import and export goods globally.
The company claims an established customer base and says it is growing rapidly, offering a range of services, including global ocean, air and truck freight together with supply chain finance, from a single platform.
Beacon said its finance service sets it apart from traditional freight forwarders, providing qualifying customers cargo financing within 72 hours. It uses AI, search, optimisation, data science, cloud and automation technologies to provide a real-time view of the global cargo marketplace, including prices, alongside processes for improving cost, speed and predictability of shipping.
Robinson said: “Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarding market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product.”
The freight forwarding business is worth an estimated $1trn a year, and supply chain finance industries about $12trn. Forwarding remains a highly fragmented business in which the top ten firms control 43% and fewer than 30% of shippers are satisfied with customer service.
“With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of Covid-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever. Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively,” Robinson said.
Participants in Beacon’s initial seed round also included Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, as well as venture firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs