Digital freight brokerage startup Loadsmart said today it has raised $21.6 million in funding led by container shipping giant Maersk, and plans to use the funding to scale up its operations team and boost investment in products and engineering.
The funding was led by Maersk Growth—the venture arm of A.P. Moller-Maersk—as well as Connor Capital SB and Chromo Invest. Loadsmart also signed a strategic partnership with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P. In sum, the move brings the firm to a total of $34.7 million in backing, following previous investment rounds.
The money is the latest example of venture capitalists writing large checks to underwrite the growth of logistics technology startups pitching online platforms to find new efficiencies in the freight matching and load brokering sector. Previous firms that have collected funds to goose their growth include startups such as Convoy, Transfix, and Cargomatic.
In a statement, New York-based Loadsmart said its platform leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to automate truckload booking flow, providing instant prices to shippers with capacity guaranteed on all U.S. lanes. Through that automated platform, shippers can either book a truck in seconds manually or integrate via an application programming interface (API) to have a server-to-server booking with no human intervention, Loadsmart says.
According to Loadsmart, shippers have used this product to reduce their exposure to the expensive spot market by 50 percent, and to cut their procurement execution time by up to 90 percent. In turn, carriers benefit by keeping their trucks full and reducing empty miles, the firm said.
"We see huge potential with Loadsmart," said Sune Stilling, head of Maersk Growth. "Forward integrations between ocean shipping and over-the-road services can create incredible synergies and eventually provide a full service to shippers."