Nuvocargo raises $12M to digitize the freight logistics industry

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods flowing across the U.S.-Mexican border each year, the freight industry has remained analog — each side of the border offering up its own maze of bureaucracy.

Nuvocargo, a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade, is trying to modernize the process. The company offers an all-in-one service that rolls freight forwarding, customs brokerage, cargo insurance and even trade financing into one UI-friendly software and app. Housing all of these services under one app makes it easier for companies to track their supply chain and gives customs and logistics teams access to more centralized information, according to Nuvocargo CEO Deepak Chhugani.

“And you just have one single audit trail in case something goes wrong,” Chhugani told TechCrunch, adding that the process helps reduce or eliminate the extra costs that come with a high administrative overhead. It also lets customers take a high-level look at their operations from within a single interface, he said.

Chhugani likened the experience to something like UberEats, which offers customers the ability to easily track food orders from restaurant to home.

“Just imagine, because you are dealing with so many different parties, you lose visibility on what’s going on. If you want a snapshot of – what did I spend end-to-end? – you actually have to go through all these email chains or faxes or texts with different providers,” Chhugani explained. “Some of them might be in another country. So [Nuvocargo] just creates more visibility throughout the process, from where the goods literally are to visibility around your finances.”

But Nuvocargo is thinking beyond the actual movement of goods. The company is also starting to offer customs brokerage, comprehensive cross-border cargo insurance, and factoring, or short-term account receivable finance. The last of these solves an especially difficult pain point for trucking companies, who sometimes must wait up to net-90 days to be paid.

The approach has caught investors’ eyes: nearly one year after announcing it had raised a $5.3 million seed round, the company has closed on a $12 million Series A funding led by QED Investors and with injections from David Velez, Michael Ronen, Raymond Tonsing, FJ Labs and Clocktower. Investors NFX and ALLVP, which participated in the previous round, also participated.

The “holy grail” of their new offerings, as Chhugani called it, is trade financing. Because Nuvocargo will already have a relationship with companies, including an understanding of credit and fraud risk, its hope is that it can offer financial products at a competitive rate.

This is what attracted QED Investors, a firm that typically focuses on financial technology rather than logistics and trucking.

“After speaking with [Deepak] and seeing the connection points and parallels between what we were looking at in e-commerce and the challenges of actually getting goods across border, the fintech spark went off in my own head,” Lauren Connolley Morton, a Partner at QED, said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The opportunities for factoring, for lending, for insuring goods are all very much right up our alley.”

Although Chhugani declined to disclose Nuvocargo’s valuation after this most recent round of funding, it’s clear there is plenty of room to grow into the logistics industry’s huge and seemingly disaggregated value chain.

#logistics, #nuvocargo, #qed-investors, #series-a, #transportation

0

Belvo scores $10M from Founders Fund and Kaszek to scale its API for financial services

Belvo, a Latin American fintech startup which launched just 12 months ago, has already snagged funding from two of the biggest names in North and South American venture capital.

The company is aiming to expand the reach of its service that connects mobile applications in Mexico and Colombia to a customer’s banking information and now has some deep-pocketed investors to support its efforts. 

If the business model sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Belvo is borrowing a page from the Plaid playbook. It’s a strategy that ultimately netted the U.S. startup and its investors $5.3 billion when it was acquired by Visa in January of this year.

Belvo and its backers, who funneled $10 million into the year-old company, want to replicate Plaid’s success and open up an entire new range of financial services companies in Latin America.  

The round was co-led by Silicon Valley’s Founders Fund and Argentina’s Kaszek. With the new arsenal of capital complimented by the Founders Fund’s network and Kaszek’s deep knowledge of the Latin American market, Belvo hopes to triple its current team of 25 that is spread across operations in Mexico City and Barcelona. 

Since its initial establishment in May 2019, the company has raised a total of $13 million from Y Combinator (W20) along with some of the biggest players in Latin America’s startup scene. Those investors include David Velez, the co-founder of Brazil’s multi-billion dollar lending startup, Nubank; MAYA Capital and Venture Friends. 

The company’s co-founders, Pablo Viguera and Oriol Tintoré are no stranger to startups themselves. Viguera served as COO at European payments app Verse, and is a former general manager of one of the big European neo-banks, Revolut. Tintoré is a former NASA aerospace engineer, and while working for his Stanford MBA, founded Capella Space, an information collection startup that went on to raise over $50 million. 

The company said it aims to work with leading fintechs in Latin America, spanning across verticals like the neobanks, credit providers and personal finance products Latin Americans use every day.

Belvo has built a developer-first API platform that can be used to access and interpret end-user financial data to build better, more efficient and more inclusive financial products in Latin America. Developers of popular neobank apps, credit providers and personal finance tools use Belvo’s API to connect bank accounts to their apps to unlock the power of open banking.

Viguera says the capital will be used to open a new office in Sao Paulo, and invest in new product and business development hires. Notably, Belvo is only one year old, having launched in January 2020 and operative in Mexico and Colombia. 

Co-founders Pablo Viguera and Oriol Tintoré are a former Revolut GM and former NASA aerospace engineer.

 

Belvo’s latest funding also marks another instance of a U.S.-Latin America investment teamup for a Latin American company.

Nuvocargo, a logistics startup that wants to bolster the Mexico – U.S. trade lane with its freight transportation technology, also recently raised a round co-led by Mexico’s ALLVP and Silicon Valley-based NFX. American investors may be starting to take note of the co-investment opportunity of putting capital into startups serving the Latin American market in partnership with successful new wave domestic funds like Mexico’s ALLVP and Argentina’s Kaszek.  

#aerospace, #api, #argentina, #banking, #barcelona, #belvo, #brazil, #capella-space, #co-founder, #colombia, #companies, #coo, #david-velez, #economy, #engineer, #finance, #fintech-startup, #founders-fund, #latin-america, #mexico, #mexico-city, #nubank, #nuvocargo, #revolut, #sao-paulo, #startup-company, #tc, #the-founders-fund, #united-states, #venture-capital, #visa, #y-combinator

0

Latin America Roundup: Big rounds, big mergers and a $3.8M pandemic fund from Nubank

Despite the global panic caused by the current pandemic, startups in Latin America have continued to attract international capital. In April, Mexico’s Alphacredit, Colombia’s Frubana and Brazil’s CargoX were among those that raised particularly large rounds to support their growth during this challenging time. All three companies target markets that may have grown since the start of the pandemic, namely lending, food delivery and cargo delivery, respectively.

Alphacredit, a Mexican lending startup, raised a $100 million equity round from SoftBank and previous investors to continue to expand its digital banking services across Mexico. This round comes just months after the startup received a $125 million Series B round from SoftBank in January of this year. Alphacredit’s CEO explained that the round would enable the company to help clients during the current liquidity crisis, increasing financial inclusion in Mexico.

Meanwhile, fresh produce delivery platform Frubana raised a $25 million Series A led by GGV and Monashees, with support from SoftBank, Tiger Global and several other private investors. The startup delivers fresh produce to restaurants and small retailers directly from farmers across Colombia, and participated in Y Combinator in 2019.

Frubana has seen a boom in demand for its products since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. People have shied away from visiting large grocery stores, preferring to visit local mom-and-pop shops that receive the startup’s deliveries. Frubana raised $12 million in mid-2019 to help scale into Mexico and Brazil after it hit a monthly growth rate of 50% in the Colombian market. The startup’s founder, Fabián Gomez, started Frubana after serving as head of Expansion at Rappi, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing startups and Colombia’s first unicorn.

Finally, Brazil’s “Uber for Trucks,” CargoX raised an $80 million Series E round led by LGT Lightstone Latin America, with contributions from Valor Capital, Goldman Sachs and Farallon Capital. The startup has quietly grown to become one of the largest players in Brazil’s inefficient trucking industry, managing a fleet of nearly 400,000 truck drivers, without owning a single truck.

This investment brings CargoX’s total capital raised to $176 million and has enabled the company to launch a $5.6 million fund for the delivery of essential goods in Brazil during COVID-19. This fund will help CargoX keep drivers employed and ensure the proper delivery of essential goods like medication, food and cleaning products.

Nubank launches $3.8 million COVID-19 fund to support clients

Brazil’s largest neobank, Nubank, announced a $3.8 million (R$20 million) fund to help its clients survive the current pandemic. The fund also relies on partnerships with iFood, Rappi, Hospital Sírio-Libanês and Zenklub to help struggling clients access food, supplies, medical care and online psychological treatment throughout the pandemic.

Nubank will use the fund to grant credits to people who cannot leave their home, providing them with discounted groceries and free delivery service. Through the partnership with Hospital Sírio-Libanês, the neobank will pay for more than 1,000 free online consultations with doctors for its home-bound clients.

Nubank has more than 20 million clients across Brazil and Mexico, where it launched in 2019. CEO David Velez stated that he believed the fund could serve tens of thousands of people in need by the end of April. Customers who wished to receive these benefits were directed to reach out to Nubank via phone, email or chat to be connected with a representative who could grant the appropriate credits.

iFood merges with Domicilios to fight Rappi in its home territory

Brazil’s largest food deliverer, iFood, recently announced a partnership with Delivery Hero to merge with their Colombian subsidiary, Domicilios. The parties did not disclose the price of the deal but have shared that iFood is now the majority shareholder in Domicilios, holding 51% of the company.

IFood operates in Mexico and Colombia, as well as Brazil, but has struggled to gain traction in Spanish-speaking Latin America. This merger makes iFood geographically the largest food delivery company in the country, with more than 12,000 restaurants in its network. However, local last-mile delivery startup Rappi continues to dominate the market, using SoftBank backing to blitzscale across the region.

By comparison, iFood has focused on developing its technology, using artificial intelligence to improve the user experience across its platforms in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Using these systems, iFood processes more than 26 million deliveries each month, helping restaurants across the region adapt to the new protocols caused by the virus and social-distancing policies. IFood hopes the merger will help provide a more competitive delivery service for Colombians, as well as helping boost growth for local restaurants.

News and Notes: Nuvocargo, Kueski, Magma Partners, SouSmile

Freight-forwarding startup Nuvocargo raised $5.3 million in seed funding to support the growth of its trade routes across the U.S.-Mexico border. Founded by Ecuadorian-born Deepak Chhugani in 2018, Nuvocargo has grown quickly since participating in Y Combinator, although this funding was their first institutional round. The round drew investors from both sides of the border, including Mexico’s ALLVP. Nuvocargo also marks the first investment by new partner Antonia Rojas Eing. Nuvocargo is working hard to ensure its truck drivers are safe as they continue to deliver essential supplies across the border through the pandemic.

Mexican online credit platform Kueski announced that it would lay off employees due to the economic crunch caused by COVID-19. Kueski provides microloans to more than 500,000 Mexicans and has been struggling financially as business slows during the pandemic. While Kueski did not disclose an official number, it is estimated that they laid off around 90 employees.

Latin American venture capital firm Magma Partners acquired Guadalajara-based accelerator Rampa Ventures to intensify its investments in Mexico. Rampa’s headquarters will serve as a Mexican base for Magma Partners as it continues to invest in the country, where it already has 12 startups in its portfolio. As a part of the deal, Rampa’s founder Mak Gutierrez will take over as CEO of Magma Partners’ internal agency, Magma Infrastructure, which helps startups grow and market themselves in the region.

The Brazilian direct to consumer dental tech startup SouSmile raised a $10 million Series A this month, closing the deal before investors began to show concerns about COVID-19. SouSmile uses 3D scanners to rapidly create invisible alignment devices for customers to provide them with affordable orthodontics for 60% cheaper than current models. This model has proved highly successful in Latin America, where access to orthodontics is quite low and cost-prohibitive.

Despite an impending global economic crisis, startup investment in Latin America showed signs of resilience in April. Startups in industries like delivery, healthcare and essential services have seen growth this month, and many are providing support to their customers and suppliers in this challenging time.

It is hard to predict what the world will look like for startups, let alone for anyone, by the end of next month. The resilience of Latin America’s startups provides hope that some businesses will bounce back and continue to support their customers throughout the global recovery from this pandemic.

#antonia-rojas-eing, #artificial-intelligence, #brazil, #business, #cargox, #colombia, #column, #david-velez, #delivery-hero, #economy, #ecuador, #food, #food-delivery, #funding, #goldman-sachs, #healthcare, #ifood, #latin-america, #latin-america-roundup, #ma, #magma-partners, #mexico, #movile, #nubank, #nuvocargo, #online-food-ordering, #rappi, #softbank, #softbank-group, #sousmile, #startup-company, #tiger-global, #uber, #valor-capital, #venture-capital, #y-combinator

0

Nuvocargo, a trucking managed marketplace, raises $5.3M in seed funding

U.S. companies rely on Mexican manufacturers for goods ranging from automotive and aerospace parts, avocados and other produce, to electronics and furniture. But the trucking system that transports these things across the border relies on an inefficient mix of paper, phone calls, faxes and too many stakeholders who drive up costs.

These snarls congesting border traffic are precisely why Nuvocargo founder and CEO Deepak Chhugani has raised a $5.3 million seed round for a managed marketplace for door to door freight transportation, serving trade routes between the United States and Mexico. 

Investment came from both sides of the border. The round was co-led by Silicon Valley-based NFX and Mexico City-based ALLVP. And Nuvocargo marks the first deal for Antonia Rojas-Eing, the youngest female VC in Latin America, under ALLVP which she joined earlier this year as a partner. 

The seed round also saw participation from One Way Ventures, Maya Capital, Magma Partners, the co-founders of Rappi, the former CMO of Cabify, and other angels. The total includes earlier backing from Y Combinator, when Nuvocargo existed under a different name.

Chhugani joined Y Combinator’s W18 class with a startup called The Lobby, which sought to connect job seekers to personalized coaches. He raised $1.2 million for the startup, but decided to pivot into logistics and work on Nuvocargo. The change in direction was fairly natural for the Ecuador-raised entrepreneur, who cited his family’s previous work in the Latin American logistics industry.

When the time came to pivot, Chhugani offered investors their money back. Some chose to leave, but Y Combinator elected to stay under the new promise of digitizing trucking between Mexico and the U.S. Nuvocargo says that the $5.3 million seed is its first round, and what they’ve raised to date. Investors who stayed in from The Lobby are part of this round for Nuvocargo.

Nuvocargo, which calls itself a modern managed marketplace for door to door freight transportation, has set up shop with fully bilingual teams in both New York and Mexico.

Mexico is already one of the United States’ largest trade partners, and Chhugani predicts that relationship will only strengthen in the next decade. The U.S.-China trade war shows no signs of easing and tariffs have increased buying friction. With the 2018 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that aims to renegotiate NAFTA and uncertainty around coronavirus, Chhugani believes Mexico will become an even more attractive trade opportunity to capitalize on with Nuvocargo. 

To the company’s knowledge, U.S.-Mexico trucking is within the top five biggest trade lanes in the world, with 6.5 million trucking shipments going between Mexico and the U.S. every year. Notably, 80% of all the goods transported between the US and Mexico move by truck.

VCs have jumped on the freight and logistics opportunity as startups like NEXT Trucking, Convoy and Flexport secure hundreds of millions dollars from investors like Sequoia and SoftBank. 

Now, smaller startups like Nuvocargo that specialize on specific routes and countries, are focusing in regionally to bring these systems that rely on paper, phone calls, faxes and spreadsheets to do business, online. 

Nuvocargo’s free software digitizes the different steps with timestamps, geo tracking and document housing in a centralized cloud based dashboard providing a snapshot understanding of every step of a cross border shipment. Customers can request new shipments using Nuvocargo using a WhatsApp integration, email or SMS. 

The 15-person startup wants to house the entire shipping process within its tracking software, simplifying the customer experience. The customer, Chhugani says, is any company that needs to move goods between Mexico and the U.S., and he notes that Nuvocargo is working with dozens of customers ranging from beverage companies to multi billion dollar corporations – though he declined to specify who. 

Chhugani says that in a typical U.S.-Mexico cross border trucking transaction, up to 12 stakeholders are involved in a single shipment, and that is too many. Multiple people on the U.S. side are procuring the trucks and managing customs, FDA inspection and warehouse storage. On the Mexico side there are even more entities handling scheduling and pick up for the trucking companies and drivers. 

With the new seed funding, Nuvocargo will prioritize early hires in product, operations, finance and engineering in its New York and Mexico offices on its fully bilingual team. 

Chhugani says he’s especially appreciative of the truck drivers that put themselves in harms way to ensure critical items are getting to the right destination ensuring shelves are stocked. He says that in this uncertain time, Nuvocargo is working to give drivers predictable business near their homes, and pay them faster.  “All of us as a society should be more appreciative of truck drivers and the trucking industry, because this is something that really fuels the economy in both the United States and in Mexico.” 

In the current age of the coronavirus pandemic, Nuvocargo says it is focusing significant efforts on working with companies that are transporting essential goods to aid in the supply crisis.

#nuvocargo, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #transportation

0