Just six months ago, project44 received $35 million in venture capital to grow out its cloud-based technology that gives shippers one-second updates on the status of shipments handled by any of 175,000 carriers. On Monday, it received a fresh round of $45 million, bringing its running total to $90 million.
The Chicago-based company says it will use the proceeds to continue developing its “transportation visibility” technology and drive its base of operations beyond North America.
Through its technology integrations with dozens of software providers as well as carriers, project44 gathers information from transportation management software systems and the on-board electronic devices that monitor the activity of truck, rail and ocean shipments. It compiles such data in shipping status reports that it updates each second, it says. Project44 refers to its service as a “quote-to-invoice” information platform, providing information on a shipment’s lifecycle from the time a shipper receives a quote from a carrier until it receives an invoice after delivery.
Project44 provides that information to manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including those that sell through e-commerce, and to transportation technology and service providers including freight forwarders and third-party logistics (3PL) firms. Since its last funding round in April, project44 has increased its number of customers by 520%, it says in a blog on its website.
The company, located in Chicago’s landmark Merchandise Mart office building, says it has more than 100 employees and expects to hire 55 more by the end of this year. It’s led by CEO and founder Jett McCandless, a freight industry veteran who is also a founder and former CEO of the CarrierDirect shipping consulting and technology services firm. He’s also a former executive at freight brokerage firm GlobalTranz and a former national account manager for carrier YRC Freight, where he handled services for Walmart, according to his LinkedIn page.
McCandless notes that project44 already offers some of its products worldwide—such as its parcel-tracking and address verification application in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa as well as North America—and now plans to drive international expansion “across our entire product portfolio.”
Project44 doesn’t publicly say what it charges its customers, but McCandless says that it employs subscription-based pricing based on shipment volume to access its cloud-based services. The pricing model allows customers “to purchase what they need now and expand in the future as their needs grow,” he says. The company adds on its website that its pricing structure is designed to be “accessible and affordable for everyone who needs it, regardless of size.” It notes that it takes an average of four weeks to get a new customer live on its system.
McCandless asserts that project44 is seeing its strongest demand from businesses that are determined to better compete with shipping systems to improve the overall purchasing experience for their customers. “Amazon took transportation and logistics, which was a cost center for the last 50 years, and flipped that upside down,” he says. “They said transportation and logistics is the tip of the spear for customer experience. Customers don’t just buy a product or service—they buy an experience.”
“The highest demand is coming from forward-thinking supply chain and business leaders who are quickly realizing that transportation and logistics operations are uniquely positioned to drive better customer experiences,” McCandless says. He adds that all of project44’s products in its “visibility platform” are designed to be integrated into e-commerce operations to improve inventory management and collaboration with suppliers.
The $45 million in funding is from Sapphire Ventures and Insight Venture Partners and prior investors 8VC, Chicago Ventures, Emergence Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners and Pritzker Group. Kevin Diestel, a partner at Sapphire, will join project44’s board.
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