Berlin-based logistics start-up sennder has raised an undisclosed amount in its Series B financing, which saw the participation of U.S. venture capital firm Accel and previous investors Holtzbrinck, Project A and Swedish auto major Scania. sennder is one of the largest digital freight marketplaces in Europe, connecting large-scale shippers with carriers.
In many ways, freight forwarding in Europe is similar to the chaos and fragmentation that the U.S. freight industry witnesses on a daily basis. Start-ups have mushroomed in the European trucking space to address this issue by bringing more visibility to the process. The European road freight market is valued at over €350 billion, but is slowed by paper-based operations and load matching via telephone calls and faxes.
sennder has positioned itself to help large enterprise clients connect to small fleets through its digital freight platform. And unlike the U.S., where start-ups in the niche tailor their solutions to suit a single country and language, European start-ups have to cater to long-haul truckers who navigate through different countries and languages, although countries under the European Union do have a common regulatory framework with regard to customs.
“As a digital freight forwarder, serving the full truckload (FTL) market, sennder targets a market estimated at €100 billion across the EU, the biggest segment of the €350 billion road freight industry. It is not just the market’s size that is compelling, but the opportunity that exists to significantly improve reliability, efficiency, visibility and customer service. The current environment is highly fragmented, outdated and relies on multiple layers of subcontracting,” said Accel in its statement.
Apart from connecting the stakeholders, sennder also looks to automate a large part of the freight matching process, thereby reducing the inefficiencies that creep in due to human interactions within operations. In Europe, over 30 percent of trucks run empty on the roads, which is due to suboptimal route planning and inconsistent freight matching.
sennder optimizes this process by automating route planning and using artificial intelligence to leverage the data that flows into its system, while seamlessly coordinating freight movement from the warehouse to the destination.
The startup draws on the global experience of its founders – David Nothacker, Nico Schefenacker and Julius Koehler – who have studied and worked across the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Spain, France, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Singapore, bringing unique perspectives to tackle the complex issue of digitizing the European freight marketplace.
“As well as creating a more transparent and efficient service for customers, sennder is also ensuring a better experience for carriers and their drivers. In addition to seamless digital communication and paperwork via the app, it ensures prompt payment and provides value-added services to their partners,” said Accel in its statement. “In a market where shipping demand often outstrips supply, the ability to develop and nurture a loyal network of carriers, most of whom are small companies or sole traders, is crucial.”
sennder’s idea is simple – eliminate the middlemen in the market, which generates greater savings for its enterprise clients while also increasing fleet incomes. The company now works with over 7,500 small fleet companies and the recent fundraiser will help scale-up its operations further. The company is currently active across France, Germany and Italy, with plans to expand services to Spain and the Benelux region.