Digital Freight Forwarder Beacon Raises Over $15 Million From Jeff Bezos And 8VC

By Dan Anderson ● June 1, 2020
  • Beacon, a London-based next-generation freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, announced it has raised over $15 million

Beacon, a London-based next-generation freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, announced it has raised over $15 million in Series A funding from Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos and 8VC. And Beacon was launched in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov — who are both former Uber executives. And they were joined by CTO Pierre Martin, a former Amazon executive.

It is estimated that the freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1 trillion and $12 trillion a year, respectively. And the former is still a highly fragmented market in which the top ten forwarders globally control just 43%.

Many logistics companies have been slow to digitize and fewer than 30% of shippers are satisfied with the customer service they receive. Beacon already has an established customer base and it is growing rapidly.

“Beacon has attracted investment from some of the best minds in business and technology. 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,” said Robinson.

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.

Beacon utilizes artificial intelligence, search, optimization, data science, cloud and automation technologies to unlock significant operational efficiencies. And 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 optimizes shipping routes and processes for improved cost, speed, and predictability.

Beacon’s supply chain finance product sets it apart from traditional freight forwarders by helping to solve one of the biggest challenges faced by importers today: cash flow. And suppliers often demand payment before goods are shipped and — with months-long shipment times — importers need flexible finance to meet their working capital needs. In order to address this, Beacon offers qualifying customers financing within 72 hours — which also entitles them to shipping discounts.

The participants in Beacon’s initial seed round also included Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt as well as venture firms such as Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs.

With this round of funding, the company will invest in new hires, technology and market expansion.

“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. We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time – these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence,” added Robinson.