It shouldn't come as a surprise that overall funding for transportation-focused startups doubled in just one year—from $7 billion in 2014 to $14 billion in 2015—according to Volvo Group's venture capital arm.
Who's getting the money, and what's proving to be of interest to corporate venturers like Volvo? Below are some transportation and logistics startups that have received substantial corporate backing:
Founded in 2013, the company aggregates tools for global freight forwarding in a single dashboard accessed via the cloud. Services include handling customs and tariffs. Flexport's total venture backing climbed to $94 million in September after the company closed a $65 million Series B round of financing led by Founders Fund.
GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, was involved in the first round of funding and remains an investor.
Billed as bridging "the last mile between retailers and customers," Deliv offers crowdsourced, same-day delivery of purchases from e-commerce businesses and local shops. Corporates seem to love the idea: no other company on this list has as much backing from CVCs. Since launching the company in 2012, Deliv's founders have raised $40.35 million over five rounds.
All four of Deliv's corporate backers—UPS, General Growth Properties, Simon Venture Group and Taubman Centers—participated in February's $28 million Series B round of funding.
Roadie is a crowdsourcing service that matches drivers headed to a destination with shippers who need to send goods to the same locale. "Gigs," as they're called, are handled via an app that includes tracking and messaging for checking in with drivers during their journey. Roadie closed a $15 million Series B round of funding in June, bringing its total backing since inception to $25.03 million.
UPS is one of the corporates backing the company.
Cargomatic is a matching service like Roadie, but for handling bigger and more sophisticated loads. Truckers with space to spare and shippers with goods to move connect via Cargomatic's smartphone app. The company also handles paperwork, screening, logistics and payments, which are made within 30 days of delivery. Backers have poured $10.6 million into Cargomatic since its founding in 2013.
Volvo Group Venture Capital participated in Cargomatic's $8 million Series A round of funding, completed in January of 2015.
The KeepTruckin web application connects drivers, vehicles and fleet managers to keep an ongoing log of trucking activity, which is required under the new electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Federal regulators published a full list of electronic tracking requirements in December 2015. Today, over 250,000 drivers and 7,500 fleets use KeepTruckin to fulfill the ELD requirement.
Venture investors have contributed to the company's success by investing $10.3 million in two rounds of funding. GV got in on the action in the company's July 2013 seed round.
Serving storage entrepreneurs in both New York and San Francisco, Boxbee's software computes the sophisticated logistics required to make "on-demand pickup and delivery [of items to be archived] efficient and profitable at scale," the company says on its webpage. Investors liked the pitch enough to have committed $7.3 million in total funding as of this writing.
Among corporate backers, GV is once again the lone wolf having participated in both the seed (May 2013) and Series A (April 2014) funding rounds.
Founded in 2012 by Jeremy Bodenhamer and Aaron Freeman, Shiphawk is billed as an all-in-one software platform that's easy to automate and includes tools for analyzing the most and least profitable methods for shipping goods. They've raised $6 million in total capital, with $5 million coming in a Series A round completed two years ago.
Manatt Venture Fund joined the list of ShipHawk's backers at that point. The fund is an arm of the Los Angeles law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Philips, LLP, and is also a seasoned investing group, having backed 21 different companies over the years, including Etsy and Pinterest.
8. Trucker Path
Founded in 2013 by entrepreneurs Ivan Tsybaev and Viktor Radchenko, Trucker Path's apps help truckers improve profits by enabling drivers to share data about fuel and weigh stations, routes, parking and stops. Trucker Path also help connect available trucks with freight jobs, and offers a freight factoring service to get cash into drivers' hands faster. (Specifically, Trucker Path buys loads at a discounted rate and the assumes the risk of collecting full payment from the shipper. When full payment is collected, Trucker Path pockets the difference.)
So far, the company has raised $21.5 million from investors, including the corporate investing arm of Chinese social media network Renren.
This German startup has introduced technology that tags cargo with unique tracking IDs so shippers can follow freight in real time from the web or from purpose-built mobile apps for couriers. Leveraging each courier's smartphone and built-in GPS systems allows for secure and accurate tracking from anywhere in the world.
As a startup in the first cohort of RocketSpace's Logistics Tech Accelerator, CargoSteps was able to work directly with founding member Kaleido Logistics on pilot testing a new technology solution for a large retail client. Within just four months of the start of the accelerator, the two companies realized true business value of the technology and have now formed the joint venture 'Freight Intelligence'. This game-changing technology is generating new revenue streams for both companies and is already transforming the global logistics industry.
The Time to Take Action Is Now
Most of the companies profiled above are still early enough in their development that corporate follow-ons are still to come.
And they will come. Corporates that have a lot of cash and a lot to gain by disrupting the trajectory of traditional logistics will want a piece of the Next Big Idea for moving goods faster.
Want to stay ahead of the disruption? Join the RocketSpace Logistics Tech Accelerator! This pilot-focused accelerator program brings together multiple corporations and startups to fuel new innovation in the logistics industry.
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