Sydney-based logistics tech start-up Ofload has scored $2.8 million of seed funding in a round led by the venture capital division of Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The company, formerly called Loadsmile, was co-founded by former HelloFresh head of operations Geoffroy Henry. It connects small and medium-sized carriers with shippers, enabling shipments to be delivered more quickly and affordably by taking up what would have been empty space in delivery vehicles.

Despite launching only in February, the company is being used by more than 800 carriers, creating a fleet of 15,000-odd trucks nationwide that shippers can access simply, placing their goods in trucks that would have otherwise operated significantly below their capacity.

“The intention of Ofload is to find a way to use technology to disrupt and improve the efficiency [of road freight], tackling three main areas of waste,” Mr Henry said.

“Firstly, 30 per cent of trucks are empty and about 50 per cent are under-utilised. On one hand, this significantly impacts profitability, but also the cost of freight.

“On the other end, there’s the duopoly that sits on top of this industry … so we’re trying to empower the long tail [of providers].”

Since day one, HelloFresh’s last-mile logistics arm BeCool has been a customer of Ofload.

The funding round took place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, between March and July 2020, with Global Founders Capital also taking part.

Mr Henry said raising funds through the pandemic had been challenging. Its calls with potential investors had to be done through Zoom

“There were a mix of reactions with smaller VCs in panic mode and wanting to just support their current portfolio and then the top investors … saw it as an opportunity because tech was more resilient,” he said.

“The funding has two purposes. It will allow us to supercharge the team, with the tech team focusing on hiring strong talent and the same goes for operations. Then with Maersk as a strategic investor, we can leverage their strong portfolio of clients.”

Venture partner at Maersk Growth Jeppe Høier said the investment fitted with its container logistics integrator strategy.

“We have monitored this space for years and invested in teams around the world succeeding in bringing shippers and carriers into the digital world,” he said. “All supply chain stakeholders will benefit from Ofload’s technology, not least shippers looking to reduce their carbon footprint, as empty truck moves will be optimised.”

Ofload’s raising is the second in as many weeks from a logistics disrupter, with Australia Post rival Sendle closing a $19 million raising last week.

According to Bureau of Statistics data from 2014, 30 per cent of trucks in Australia are running without loads, and even when a truck has a load, it is rarely full.

On average, truck drivers also spend almost three out of every five days without work, according to a study of more than 100 leaders in the road freight industry conducted by Ofload.

“Ultimately, transport companies want to reduce these inefficiencies and create a more sustainable industry, and we are making this possible, no matter their size,” Mr Henry said.

Source: Financial Review

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