Fleet, a marketplace that lets companies compare quotes from logistics providers, has landed a $4 million seed round. The funding was led by Hunt Technology Ventures, with participation from other investors including Placid Ventures, David S. Hunt, 1517 Fund, Invariantes Fund, GrowthX Fund, NFQ, and Telegraph Hill Capital.
Fleet launched as Shipstr at Disrupt SF 2014, where it made it to Battlefield’s final round. Since then, the startup has not only changed its name, but also its business model. Originally created to connect small companies without freight brokers with service providers for international cargo shipments, Fleet shifted its focus and launched a marketplace last July.
About 150 freight forwarders currently use Fleet’s quoting platform. The company claims that users who compare quotes on it usually save 20 percent on shipping costs. Fleet also wants to give them more transparency in the form of reviews, ratings, and shipment tracking.
In turn, service providers listed on the platform can get better leads, reach more small businesses, and manage transactions in one place.
“It costs a freight forwarder over $200 to send a sales person to meet with an SMB and they still don’t know if they’ll have an opportunity to quote on their shipments,” says founder Max Lock, who first encountered the complexity of international logistics after launching a food packaging import company while still in high school.
As cross-border e-commerce sales continue to increase, more logistics startups are launching to ease the process of international shipping for companies and consumers. Other companies that have received venture capital funding include Freightos, Flexport, and Haven. It’s not just startups, either—Amazon recently registered to provide ocean freight forwarding services.
Fleet hopes its switch to a marketplace model will safeguard its niche in the industry, especially as it continues to focus on serving small companies and collects data about what they need.
“I think we are pretty well differentiated now by taking the marketplace approach and using the existing logistics infrastructure that our network of freight forwarders has built,” says Lock. “We will continue to differentiate ourselves by focusing on the needs of SMBs because they have historically been under serviced by traditional freight forwarders.”