Supply chain software vendor project44 said today it landed $10.5 million in venture capital funding from three investors—the company's first outside financing in its three-year history—and will use the capital to expand its technology beyond its core less-than-truckload (LTL) market into truckload, intermodal, and final-mile delivery services.
Project44, based in Chicago, received funding from Emergence Capital, Chicago Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank. Project44 said it plans to expand its sales force, develop data intelligence and analytics capabilities, and hire engineers to develop additional application programming interfaces (APIs)—middleware that the company has said accelerates the performance of transportation management systems (TMS)—for modes beyond LTL.
APIs enable automated systems to communicate directly and instantaneously with each other without the need to route data through a third-party interface such as electronic data interchange, or EDI. For example, a travel website's airline schedules, fare comparisons, and lodging availability displayed on a computer or mobile device is the work of APIs helping exchange information between vendors and the particular website.
Project44 has said that APIs will allow shippers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and carriers to have nearly instantaneous communication of data on rates, dispatch, tracking, and image retrieval. It will lessen the reliance on EDI, where information is first batched and then transmitted, leading to slower response times for users, according to project44 executives.
Expanding the API network will be easier than launching it because of rising public awareness about the technology, Jett McCandless, project44's president, said today in a phone interview. API technology has begun gaining traction in certain segments of the economy, highlighted by a $3.5 billion stock offering in June for Twilio Inc., the software company that provides the platform behind the ride-sharing firm Uber Technologies Inc., and by Google's announcement last week that it would spend $625 million to buy cloud communication API provider Apigee Corp.
"A lot of people don't know who Twilio is, but Uber couldn't exist without it," said McCandless. Project44 will achieve a similar level of visibility once its technology is fully in place to improve communications across the supply chain, McCandless said.