Egyptian freight marketplace startup Trella raises $600k in seed funding

 Photo: Trella
Photo: Trella

Trella, an Egyptian-based trucking marketplace startup, has raised an investment of $600,000+ in pre-seed financing. The round was led by Algebra Ventures, and saw the participation of several strategic investors, global venture capital firms (VCs) and angel investors. Trella was founded in 2018 by Omar Hagrass and Pierre Saad to address the issue of severe fragmentation within the Egyptian trucking market.

Fragmentation in the trucking industry is ubiquitous around the world. However, unlike the U.S., where the digital trucking marketplace has witnessed significant traction over the last several years, most of the developing countries – including Egypt – have largely conventional trucking landscapes that are devoid of technology.

Though Egypt’s transportation infrastructure is better than most of the rest of North Africa (and Africa in general), it still suffers from high logistics costs that, on average, account for 33 percent of the total retail price of a product. In the U.S. the transportation and logistics costs hover at around 7.5 percent, a more than four-fold lower expenditure percentage.

This makes Trella, a startup looking to bring more visibility to the Egyptian trucking marketplace, an ideal solution for the country’s highly opaque logistics industry. Hagrass, the CEO of Trella, has had significant experience within the transport technology space, having served as the regional manager of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for Uber’s launch and expansion.

“Building on the fantastic success of ride-hailing startups, we built a similar solution for the freight industry in the region to improve efficiency throughout the supply chain,” said Hagrass in a statement. “The interest in our solution has been overwhelming, both from businesses that want to use our technology, and from truckers who are getting significantly more value and more consistent flow of business through our platform. We’re optimizing truckers’ routes so they’re no longer driving empty.”

The startup has pointed out that asset utilization was a problem it wanted to tackle head-on, which was a direct result of the lack of transparency within the trucking ecosystem. Trella empowers drivers and cuts costs for shippers by connecting them digitally, thereby improving load utilization and inducing efficiency within the network.

Algebra Ventures, the lead investor in the pre-seed round, is a $50 million Cairo-based VC firm that invests in early-stage technology companies in Egypt. It recently exited fintech startup Fawry for $100 million.

“The large and highly fragmented freight market in Egypt is ripe for technological disruption. We are excited to be joined by a group of capable and experienced co-investors who will help accelerate Trella’s growth in the short-run and support it in subsequent financings,” said Karim Hussein, Algebra Ventures’ managing partner.

On the list of angel investors is Jambu Palaniappan, a former head of Uber Eats in the EMEA region. “I’m incredibly excited to invest in Trella as part of its pre-seed funding round,’ he said. “The premise of bringing world-class logistics technology to shippers and carriers across Egypt is a strong one, and the Trella team is extremely well-equipped to achieve their ambitious goals. I look forward to supporting them along the way.”