Beacon, a freight forwarding and supply chain finance provider, has raised more than US$15mn in a series A fundraising round, with investments from Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, and US venture capital firm 8VC.
The money raised will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion, Beacon says in a statement.
Beacon was founded in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives. The following year they were joined by CTO Pierre Martin, a former head of engineering at Amazon.
The UK-based startup uses AI, cloud and automation technologies to offer ocean, air and truck freight, together with supply chain finance, all of which can be accessed and managed on a single platform. By combining a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo and a marketplace view of shipping prices, the platform finds the quickest and most cost-effective trade routes.
Meanwhile, its supply chain finance arm offers buyers access to finance to pay their suppliers. “Importers need flexible finance to meet their working capital needs. To address this, Beacon offers qualifying customers financing within 72 hours, which also entitles them to shipping discounts,” the statement reads.
Jeff Bezos and 8VC join other investors in Beacon, including Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as venture capital firms Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Mantaray and FJ Labs.
Beacon’s Robinson says that as digitalisation in trade accelerates as a result of Covid-19, the conventional freight forwarder is “more precarious than ever”.
“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,” he says. “Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarder 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.”
The funding follows Beacon appointing Brenton Booth as its head of supply chain finance earlier this year. Prior to joining Beacon, Booth ran his own strategy and product development consultancy, Epic Growth, which focused on working capital finance and logistics for financial institutions and fintechs. He previously worked for Barclays as its head of working capital finance and as the bank’s global head of product management for trade and working capital.