Passport, a technology startup that helps brands with all aspects of cross-border shipping, announced on Thursday it has raised $12 million in Series A funding.
In an interview with FreightWaves, CEO Alex Yancher described Passport as a “modern international shipping carrier” built for e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands.
The company takes on the digital, logistics and regulatory complexities tied to cross-border commerce, including handling customer support, tax and duties, and regulatory compliance.
Prior to co-founding Passport in 2017, Yancher served as COO for Lynks.com, an international personal shopping site that helped people all over the world buy products from e-commerce sites and have them shipped to their doors.
As COO, he was charged with building a network of carriers, a task he says he found “incredibly challenging and complex” because of the number of parties involved as well as the array of business and regulatory issues tied to moving products across the border.
“That made me realize international shipping more than just the actual logistics,” Yancher explained. “It’s a systems problem that involves logistics but also so much more.”
So while optimizing a global network of carriers and customs brokers is a key service, San Francisco-headquartered Passport addresses other pain points: intercepting and handling customer service inquiries; calculating and collecting taxes and duties directly in the merchant’s cart; and helping merchants stay in compliance with new United Kingdom and European Union VAT rules.
A software company at its core, Passport doesn’t own trucks or planes but instead works with a network of providers, stringing them together “in a seamless way,” said Yancher.
Noting the fastest-growing buyers of international shipping are e-commerce merchants, Yancher said what most excites him most about leading Passport is the ability to help brands expand and diversify their revenue stream beyond the United States.
His team often works with companies that are just starting to market their products outside the U.S. with international sales typically accounting for about 6% of sales.
“Once we’re done walking them through our internationalization strategy, we see them doing 15%-20% of their sales internationally,” he said, increasing to as much as 50% over several years.
Since its founding, Passport has shipped nearly 3 million packages to countries all over the world for brands like Betabrand, Native and Bombas.
The company plans to use the Series A cash infusion to invest in its parcel chain network and continue to scale operations.