Monday, June 1, 2020

Recent Start Up Freight Forwarding and Supply Chain Finance Group Raises 15 Million Dollars

It's Not What You Know, But Who You Know
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – London based Beacon, which refers to itself as 'the next generation freight forwarding and supply chain finance company', has raised over $15 million in its Series A fundraising round, with investors including Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, and leading US venture capital firm 8VC.

Beacon was founded in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives and they were subsequently joined by CTO Pierre Martin, previously at Amazon, hence presumably the link with Bezos. Beacon is obviously looking at a market which it freely admits it considers ‘ripe for disruption’ and intends to enter the logistics sector using modern technologies.

The company says that the freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1 trillion and $12 trillion a year respectively, with the former still a highly fragmented market in which the top ten forwarders globally control just 43%. This is a field in which many of the logistics incumbents have been slow to digitise, and Beacon claims with fewer than 30% of shippers being satisfied with the customer service they receive.

Beacon says it uses best-in-class AI, search, optimisation, data science, cloud and automation technologies to unlock significant operational efficiencies. The platform combines a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo and a marketplace view of global shipping costs and prices, all powered by machine learning that optimises shipping routes and processes for improved cost, speed and predictability.

It sees cash flow as a major stumbling block to smooth supply chain procurement with suppliers often demanding payment before goods are shipped set against often months long shipment times. To address this, Beacon offers qualifying customers financing within 72 hours, which can also entitle them to shipping discounts.

Participants in Beacon’s initial seed round included Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as venture firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs. The money raised in this Series A round will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion. Beacon co-founder and CEO Fraser Robinson said:

“Beacon has attracted investment from some of the best minds in business and technology. The traditional freight forwarder model remains surprisingly analogue, using systems and processes that are slow and inefficient, with opaque pricing and limited use of technology. 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.

”We also believe that our ability to offer supply chain finance can be transformative for our customers by allowing them to better control and manage their cash flow. We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time, these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence.

”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, enhance their experience and cut their costs. We look forward to meeting that demand.”