Unicorn Flexport is revolutionize the world of logistics, acting as a freight forwarder with software that helps customers manage their shipments. But there are still thousands of smaller freight forwarders, many running on outdated spreadsheet or ERP software. A startup company called GoFreight wants to help them stay competitive by offering “Shopify on delivery,” with backend software that makes their operations run more smoothly and a user interface that allows them to set up a storefront and provide Get a quote in minutes.
The Los Angeles and Taipei-based startup has raised $23 million in a Series A funding round, co-led by Flex Capital and Headline. The round included participation from LFX Venture Partners, Palm Drive Capital and former investors Mucker Capital, Cornerstone Ventures and Red Building Capital.
GoFreight, which currently has around 1,000 customers, helps manage the movement of goods across sea, air and land routes. It also allows them to set up an online storefront with a few clicks. Potential customers can connect with freight forwarders by sending them a request through the store and get a quote within minutes, instead of the often needed 24 to 48 hours.
When freight is in progress, shipments can be tracked with a real-time, EDI-integrated tool, so freight forwarders and customers know exactly where the company is located. their shipping containers. The tracking software also integrates with the accounting tools on GoFreight’s platform, so users know how the performance of their shipments affects their earnings.
Co-founder and CEO Trenton Chen earned his Master’s and PhD in the United States before returning to Taiwan to join TSMC. At the time, AppWorks and other startup programs were attracting a lot of attention, and Chen decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He left TSMC (“it was a difficult decision, because no one agreed to it,” he tells TechCrunch) and gave himself six months to come up with a viable idea. During that time, one of his co-founders was living in Los Angeles, working as an importer for a family business.
“When I was in the United States, I also knew a lot of people in this industry. So many of our good friends asked us to go there and see how bad the software is. So on the last month of the six-month period, I decided to give it a chance, bought a ticket to LA for three months and spent time with the first 10 freight forwarders, learning how they do business with software. We founded GoFreight after our first week there,” said Chen.
Although Chen says the global freight forwarding market is worth about $280 billion, almost all the software it runs is outdated. GoFreight’s goal is to empower traditional freight forwarders to stay competitive with the same quality of technology that Flexport has.
“A freight forwarding business is about how to get goods from point A to point B. Software can really help, but it’s not their main business. The service itself is the core business, and software can’t help reduce shipping costs or get goods there faster. But it can certainly help provide more valuable information for customers, importers and exporters,” said Chen, adding, “We strive to empower incumbents to compete with Flexport. It’s an approach to make this entire industry better and faster.”
Chen said GoFreight is different from other freight forwarding software startups because most of them are trying to create a new ERP system or integrate with an existing one. This is very difficult to do because many freight forwarders use outdated ERP systems and it is a fragmented market. Some don’t even use ERP systems; instead, they operate on a spreadsheet or pen-and-paper system.
At the backend, GoFreight’s software has sales, operations, and accounting tools, so when a customer has a request, freight forwarders can input it into their systems and then dial up. back with quote. Once the job is confirmed, GoFreight manages the booking, real-time transportation and any necessary electronic records. They can also create and send invoices through Gofreight.
“Very importantly, we are trying to be the Shopify of the space, so with one click they can open an online store and their importers can use the online web portal. online to submit a request and that request will appear in the system, automatically set a price, and they can book tickets online,” said Chen. “So the user interface application is very important, and we also provide display solutions.”
One big challenge that GoFreight wants to solve is the quote generation process, which can take several days because delivery orders are complex. For example, if a customer wants to ship three containers from Shanghai to Los Angeles, the freight forwarder needs to check with overseas agents who are also freight forwarders. They also need to arrange trucking and warehouses. Another thing to consider is the spot rate versus the contract rate, as the spot rate can be much lower.
Most of this work is done via email, phone calls and text messages, but a centralized customer-facing app means freight forwarders can complete the entire process, including checking with agents overseas, through GoFreight’s integrations, Chen says the process has been reduced from two days to about 10 or 20 seconds. GoFreight is currently working with partners to build a network of connections between customers and freight forwarders and between freight forwarders and carriers.
GoFreight also offers a digital payment solution, as most payments are made by paper checks. This means freight forwarders can issue a link to a customer and once they click on that link, they will be taken to the GoFreight website where they can decide which bill to bill. will pay by credit card or bank account. That information then goes back to Gofreight’s ERP system.
The analysis provided by Gofreight could help freight forwarders make more money, Chen said. For example, if they order a 40-foot container, GoFreight will record how much they paid for the 40-foot container and how much the customer paid. A performance analysis system for top customers and foreign agents, uncovering hidden charges for forwarders to better understand the true cost of a shipment. It also breaks down the cost per SKU, so freight forwarders and their customers know exactly how much it costs to ship an item.
The new funding will be used to develop more features such as smart quotes, rate management and order management.
In a statement about the grant, Headline principal partner Tom Gieselmann said: “GoFreight’s all-in-one software provides greater transparency for freight operations, allowing companies to deliver transport receivers better manage their business, which can include 0-1500+ users, from start to finish. to-end. This versatility makes the product incredibly impactful and is a key reason why we have identified them as one of the most promising logistics technology companies on the market.”