Jeff Bezos invests in digital forwarder Beacon

UK-based digital freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, Beacon has secured $15m in its Series A fundraising round, from investors including Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, and US venture capital firm 8VC.

Beacon said the money raised in the Series A round will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion.

Other participants in the initial seed round included Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, as well as venture firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs. 

Beacon was founded in 2018 by chief executive Fraser Robinson and chief operating officer Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives. They were joined by chief technology officer Pierre Martin, who previously worked at Amazon.

Beacon, which aims to make trade “simpler, more transparent and more reliable for businesses”, offers air, ocean and truck freight solutions, as well as supply chain finance — all of which can be accessed and managed via its platform.

Beacon’s platform, which is powered by artificial intelligence, calculates cost-effective and speedy shipping routes features for freight shipments.

Meanwhile, its supply chain finance solution helps its qualifying importer customers to solve the issue of cash flow by offering them financing — including entitlements to shipping discounts — within 72 hours.

Beacon noted that freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1trn and $12trn a year. It highlighted that many logistics firms have been slow to digitise, and that with fewer than 30% of shippers being satisfied with the customer service they receive, the industry is ripe for [digitised] disruption.

Beacon co-founder and chief executive Fraser Robinson, commented: “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.

“Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarding 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. 

“With digitisation 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.”

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