Beacon, a U.K.-based freight forwarding and supply chain finance startup, has raised over $15 million in its Series A investment, led by venture capital firm 8VC and including investors like Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.
Bezos is not the first high-profile investor to be interested in Beacon. The company also counts executives from Uber, Google and Amazon among its backers, as well as venture firms like Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs.
Two ex-Uber executives — Fraser Robinson and Dmitri Izmailov — founded the company. It later took in Pierre Martin, who previously worked at Amazon, creating a management team that has deep roots in technology, mobility and logistics. Beacon provides users with full visibility into freight movement, while giving competitive shipping prices and a roster of trusted carriers.
Beacon uses a variety of technologies to enable this, including artificial intelligence, search optimization, data science, cloud and automation.
“Beacon has attracted investment from some of the best minds in business and technology. The traditional freight forwarder model remains surprisingly analog, using systems and processes that are slow and inefficient, with opaque pricing and limited use of technology,” said Robinson in a statement. “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.”
Robinson pointed to Beacon’s ability to offer supply chain finance that can be transformative to its customers, as it provides them better control over their cash flow. Importers are stuck in a liquidity crisis as their suppliers often demand payment before goods are dispatched. Add to this the fact that importers have to wait several weeks at a stretch to receive the goods, making the situation even harder. To address this disconnect, Beacon offers qualifying customers financing within 72 hours and also provides them shipping discounts.
The newly raised funding will be used to build on the expertise the team has in the technology, logistics and finance segments, while also helping expand the company’s geographic footprint.
“With digitalization 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,” said Robinson.