Unicorn Flexport is revolutionizing the world of logistics, serving as a freight forwarder with software program that allows prospects to handle their shipments. However there are nonetheless hundreds of smaller freight forwarders, many working on outdated ERP software program or spreadsheets. A startup referred to as GoFreight needs to assist them compete by offering the “Shopify of freight forwarding,” with backend software program that makes their operations run extra easily, and a frontend that lets them arrange a storefront and supply quotes in a couple of minutes.

The Los Angeles and Taipei-based startup has raised $23 million in Sequence A funding, co-led by Flex Capital and Headline. The spherical included participation from LFX Enterprise Companions, Palm Drive Capital and returning traders Mucker Capital, Cornerstone Ventures and Pink Constructing Capital.

GoFreight, which at present has about 1,000 prospects, helps handle transportation of products by means of ocean, air and land routes. It additionally lets them arrange on-line storefronts with just a few clicks. Potential prospects can hook up with freight forwarders by sending them an inquiry by means of storefront and getting a citation inside a couple of minutes, as a substitute of the 24 to 48 hours often obligatory.

As soon as a freight forwarding job is underway, shipments might be tracked with an EDI-integrated, real-time instrument, so freight forwarders and prospects know precisely the place their cargo containers are. Monitoring software program additionally integrates with accounting instruments on GoFreight’s platform, so customers understand how the efficiency of shipments is impacting their earnings.

Co-founder and CEO Trenton Chen earned his Masters and PhD in the USA earlier than returning to Taiwan to hitch TSMC. At the moment, AppWorks and different startup packages have been getting numerous consideration, and Chen determined he wished to develop into an entrepreneur. He left TSMC (“it was a tricky determination, as a result of nobody agreed with that,” he advised TechCrunch), and gave himself six months to discover a viable thought. Throughout that point, one in every of his co-founders was dwelling in Los Angeles, working as an importer for a household enterprise.

“Once I was within the States, I knew lots of people on this business as effectively. So lots of our good associates requested us to go there and see how unhealthy the software program is. So within the final month of my six month interval, I made a decision to offer it a chance, purchased a ticket for 3 months to go to LA and spend time with the primary 10 freight forwarders, studying how they do enterprise with software program. We based GoFreight after the primary week we have been there,” Chen mentioned.

Though Chen says the worldwide freight forwarding market is value about $280 billion {dollars}, nearly all of the software program it runs on is outdated. GoFreight’s objective is to empower conventional freight forwarders to remain aggressive with the identical high quality of expertise that Flexport has.

“A freight forwarding enterprise is about the right way to ship cargo from level A to level B. Software program can actually assist, however that’s not their fundamental enterprise. The service itself is the primary enterprise and software program can not assist decrease the delivery prices or get it there sooner. However it might definitely assist present extra precious info to prospects, importers and exporters,” Chen mentioned, including, “We attempt to empower incumbents to compete with Flexport. That’s an method to make this complete business higher and sooner.”

Chen says GoFreight differentiates from different freight forwarding software program startups as a result of most of them try to create new ERP system, or combine with present ones. That is difficult to do as a result of many freight forwarders use ERP programs which can be outdated, and it’s a fragmented market. Some don’t even use ERP programs; as a substitute, they work off of spreadsheets or pen-and-paper programs.

On the backend, GoFreight’s software program has gross sales, working and accounting instruments, so when prospects have an inquiry, freight forwarders can enter it into their system after which come again with a citation. As soon as a job is confirmed, GoFreight manages bookings, real-time shipments and any obligatory digital filings. They’ll additionally generate and ship invoices by means of GoFreight.

“Very importantly, we’re attempting to develop into the Shopify of the house, so in one-click they’ll open an internet retailer, and their importers can use the web net portal to ship an inquiry and it simply pops up within the system, mechanically with pricing and so they can e-book their tickets on-line,” mentioned Chen. “So the entrance finish software is so necessary and we offer visibility options as effectively.”

A significant problem that GoFreight needs to unravel is the method of producing quotes, which might take a pair days since freight forwarding orders are advanced. For instance, if a buyer needs to ship three containers from Shanghai to Los Angeles, freight forwarders must examine with abroad brokers who’re additionally freight forwarders. In addition they want to rearrange trucking and warehouses. One other factor to think about is spot charges versus contract charges, since spot charges might be a lot decrease.

Most of this work is completed by means of emails, telephone calls and textual content messages, however a centralized customer-facing app means freight forwarders can full the whole course of, together with checking with abroad brokers, by means of GoFreight’s integrations, which Chen says reduces the method from two days to about 10 or 20 seconds. GoFreight is at present working with companions to construct a community that connects prospects with freight forwarders, and freight forwarders with carriers.

GoFreight additionally gives a digital cost resolution, since most funds have been carried out by paper checks. This implies freight forwarders can subject a hyperlink to prospects, and as soon as they click on on that they’re taken to GoFreight’s web site, the place they’ll resolve what invoices to pay with bank cards or financial institution accounts. Then that info goes again into GoFreight’s ERP system.

Analytics supplied by GoFreight might help freight forwarders earn more money, Chen mentioned. For instance, in the event that they e-book a 40-foot container, GoFreight will report how a lot they paid for it and the way a lot prospects have been charged. The system analyzes efficiency for high prospects and abroad brokers, uncovering hidden charges so freight forwarders have a greater understanding of the true value of a cargo. It additionally breaks down prices per SKU, so freight forwarders and their prospects know precisely how a lot it value to ship an merchandise.

The brand new funding will probably be used to develop extra options like sensible quotations, charge administration and buy order administration.

In a press release in regards to the funding, Headline accomplice Tom Gieselmann mentioned, “GoFreight’s all-in-one software program gives larger transparency to freight motion, permitting freight forwarders to raised handle their enterprise, which might vary wherever from 0-1500+ customers, end-to-end. This versatility makes the product extremely impactful, and an enormous purpose behind why we’ve recognized them as one of the promising logistics tech firms available on the market.”

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