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Jeff Bezos supports UK freight forwarding start-up

Jeff Bezos supports UK freight forwarding start-up
London-based Beacon, a freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, has raised over US$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.

The company offers a full range of services, including global ocean, air and truck freight, together with supply chain finance, all of which can be accessed and managed on a single platform.

“With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of Covid-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever,” commented Beacon CEO, Fraser Robinson. “Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively, enhance their experience and cut their costs.”

Beacon claims it uses best-in-class artificial intelligence (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.

Beacon’s supply chain finance offering sets it apart from traditional freight forwarders by helping to solve one of the biggest challenges faced by importers today – cash flow.

“We 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,” said Robinson.

Suppliers often demand payment before goods are shipped and, with months-long shipment times, 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.

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, Mantaray and FJ Labs. The money raised in this Series A round will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion.

Beacon was founded in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives, who were joined by CTO Pierre Martin, previously at Amazon. The UK freight forwarder says it is committed to radically simplifying how companies import and export goods globally.

The freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated US$1 trillion and US$12 trillion a year, respectively, with the former still a highly fragmented market in which the top ten forwarders globally control just 43%, according to Beacon.

The company argued, “Many of the logistics incumbents have been slow to digitise, and with fewer than 30% of shippers being satisfied with the customer service they receive, the industry is ripe for disruption.”

“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 stated.

 

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