BlueCargo raises $11M to bring visibility to drayage fees

Port logistics software-as-a-service provider BlueCargo announced Thursday it has closed on an $11 million funding round led by Soma Capital and Left Lane Capital to continue providing visibility to terminal operations for its shipper and carrier customers looking to expedite the container pickup and return process while also avoiding demurrage and detention fees.

The Covina, California-headquartered company was founded in late 2018 after its female co-founders, Chief Executive Officer Alexandra Griffon and Chief Product Officer Laura Theveniau, met while working on the terminal operating system Navis at the Port of Oakland in California. The duo quickly found siloed data shippers and carriers needed to keep container operations efficient.

A year later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and those areas of inefficiency grew exponentially throughout 2020, escalating the need for visibility into drayage operations at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port terminals.

“In the beginning, we were helping trucking companies, logistics providers and importers get their containers in and out faster, with no late fees,” Griffon told FreightWaves. “Then came COVID and no one could return a container to the ports and we were the only platform there to help so we grew pretty quickly.”

Funding details BlueCargo
Funding amount $11 million
Funding round Seed funding
Lead investors Soma Capital and Left Lane Capital
Business goals for the round Expand product and engineering teams and bring on industry experts to grow technology solution
Total funding $15 million

While building the SaaS system, the first problem BlueCargo applied its technology to was the return of containers, building a marketplace for it to help its customers avoid per diem fees.

“We started talking with trucking companies and had them explain to us all of their problems and the first one was empty [container] returns,” said Griffon. “We knew the port terminals, we understood their operations, but mostly we understood their systems and data. We thought we could be the bridge that wasn’t created before that could speak both parties’ languages and get containers in and out.”

Today the system does more than just track the containers at the terminals, it provides its users with the documentation and financial tools to handle all their drayage needs in one platform. 

Investor Mir Faiyaz, a partner at Soma Capital, said, “We’re confident that the ‘why now’ has never been more apparent, with supply chains facing secular challenges around labor availability, and cascading blockages, which add to the need to develop systems that promote transparency and data availability. BlueCargo’s mix of product expertise, and focus on customer experience, provide a compelling argument for them to capture the massive opportunity ahead.” 

According to Griffon, thousands of users from more than 1,200 companies, including Forrest Logistics, XPO Logistics, NEXT Trucking, Overseas Freight Inc., Pacific Drayage Services and shipper Living Spaces, are using the platform to handle their drayage operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Griffon believes the company will experience even more growth as the recent Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 calls for involving shippers directly with the terminal’s fee processing, making BlueCargo’s fee visibility tools even more necessary for logistics providers and shippers handling their own drayage services.

“We talked to people and realized they have no idea how to calculate how much they are accruing in detention and demurrage charges. We collect, monitor and manage your fees. … We also forecast their future fees. That’s really our competitive advantage and tools we completely built from the ground up,” she said.

With this new capital, the company is looking to hire top talent in product and engineering and bring on industry experts to help lead BlueCargo’s growth. It also plans to extend its platform’s capabilities to bring visibility to any shipment entering North American ports.

“The pandemic exposed significant deficiencies in global supply chains and inadequacies in the outdated manual systems used by shippers and carriers alike. Alexandra and Laura’s experience as port terminal operators and data scientists uniquely positioned them to solve these pain points with an end-to-end SaaS solution. We’re excited to support BlueCargo’s mission to empower logistics businesses of any size with the software and data to digitize global trade,” said Alicia Garabedian, an investor at Left Lane Capital. 

Watch now: Expected drop in port volume

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Source: freightwaves - BlueCargo raises $11M to bring visibility to drayage fees
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