A new startup from one of the founders of Rocket Internet’s beauty and wellness marketplace Vaniday is de-cloaking today. Convargo, launching in France, is the latest attempt to bring Uber-like convenience to the shipping industry, by connecting shippers with truckers.
The young company is also announcing that it’s raised €1.5 million from a very long list of investors. They include Xavier Niel (Free and Kima Ventures), Rocket Internet’s own Oliver Samwer, Jacques-Antoine Granjon (Vente Privée), Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Olivier Mathiot (PriceMinister), Jean-David Blanc (Allociné and Molotov), Marc Menacé (Menlook), Clément Benoit & Benjamin Chemla (Resto-In & Stuart), and Thibaud Lecuyer (Dafiti).
In addition, Convargo has perhaps smartly picked up support from a range of transportation industry folk, including Roger Crook (former CEO of DHL Global Freight Forwarding) and François Bourgeois (founder of French leading freight exchange Teleroute and 3617 LAMY).
But back to what exactly the startup does. Operating a model that sounds similar to U.S.-based Trucker Path and Cargomatic, Convargo’s platform connects shippers with local carriers, including facilitating the booking process.
It claims to let you get a quote and book a shipment in just 3 clicks, while giving you access to thousands of local carriers. Through the app you can track the position of your goods in real time, and receive immediate proof of delivery upon arrival.
For the carriers themselves, the startup promises to send them more business and reduce overheads as it’s effectively a cheaper middle person, with lower overheads itself. The usual online marketplace play, you might surmise. Interestingly, I’m told that 90 per cent of carriers in Europe have fewer than six trucks, so it’s a highly fragmented industry.
Maxime Legardez, co-founder of Convargo says, “with scale, and using an algorithm, we aim to fill the trucks so that carriers can operate up to 100 per cent capacity. Right now, about 25 per cent of European trucks drive nearly empty. It’s an evidence of the enormous amount of blatant inefficiency in this industry, which has direct collateral impact such as excessive exhaust emissions.”
Asked why he quit Vaniday, Legardez told me he started thinking about Convargo at the end of last year and that after dozens of meetings with key people from the industry he became convinced “this was simply an opportunity I would never see again and a huge opportunity to add value to a key sector of the economy”. Now, along with a number of other freight marketplace startups, he’s attempting to make that opportunity count.