International shipping has changed little in the last century – it’s slow and opaque, with many processes carried out manually and on paper. Most supply chain teams still rely on phone calls and emails to do their job. The whole things stuck in the 20th Century. It’s estimated that the average shipper spends over 40 hours per month – the equivalent of 7 working days – manually chasing the various parties along their supply chain for action.
We’ve seen many startups try to tackle shipping and freight in the last few years but very few got anywhere because the industry is very resistant to change. The key to winning in this market would be to leap-frog legacy operating systems and improve customer-facing supply chain visibility and analytics.
Zencargo, the digital freight forwarder, thinks it may have the answer, and so do its investors. Today it announces its ‘seed plus’ round, led by London’s LocalGlobe, with participation from Samos Investments (founded by the Marquess of Salisbury) and Picus Capital, bringing total funds raised to over $4m.
The company works – which works with businesses ranging from high-growth scaleups to FTSE-listed businesses – will use the new funding to accelerate its product development process and build a presence in China.
The idea is simple and disruptive.
Zencargo makes it completely free for companies to digitise their supply chain. Its platform includes end-to-end visibility for shipments from purchase order to delivery, addressing the issue of fragmented suppliers and manual processes.
Instead of real offices, Zencargo’s customers utilise its “Virtual Local Offices” to gain visibility during production around the world.
Customers include wearable technology giant Catapult and mattress-in-a-box brand Simba. Catapult says it has used ZenCargo to expand its supply chain to over 50 countries, with 98% of all shipments arriving on time.
Tom Hook, supply chain and operations manager at Catapult, says Zencargo’s platform “helped us digitise our complete shipping operation overnight. Their technology acts like an extension of our team; helping to increase visibility into our supply chain, minimising the amount of admin and communication required and allowing us to focus on developing and improving the way we operate rather than continually chasing it.”
Richard Fattal, cofounder of Zencargo, says: “We’ve attracted a lot of fast-growing digital companies led by a new generation of business leaders. These are the kind of companies that are driving productivity growth in the UK and elsewhere and we are enjoying helping them operate with greater efficiency.”
The company was founded by Alex Hersham, Zencargo’s CEO, and Fattal, with CTO Jan Reithmeyer. Hersham worked for Cerberus Capital Management, a US Private Equity with $40bn under management, running the shipping business, buying and leasing ships back to the shipping lines. Richard is the third generation in his family to make a career in international trade; his grandfather owned a freight forwarding business and his father was a commodities trader.