Despite hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods flowing across the U.S.-Mexican border each year, the freight industry has remained analog — each side of the border offering up its own maze of bureaucracy.
Nuvocargo, a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade, is trying to modernize the process. The company offers an all-in-one service that rolls freight forwarding, customs brokerage, cargo insurance and even trade financing into one UI-friendly software and app. Housing all of these services under one app makes it easier for companies to track their supply chain and gives customs and logistics teams access to more centralized information, according to Nuvocargo CEO Deepak Chhugani.
“And you just have one single audit trail in case something goes wrong,” Chhugani told TechCrunch, adding that the process helps reduce or eliminate the extra costs that come with a high administrative overhead. It also lets customers take a high-level look at their operations from within a single interface, he said.
Chhugani likened the experience to something like Uber Eats, which offers customers the ability to easily track food orders from restaurant to home.
“Just imagine, because you are dealing with so many different parties, you lose visibility on what’s going on. If you want a snapshot of — what did I spend end-to-end? — you actually have to go through all these email chains or faxes or texts with different providers,” Chhugani explained. “Some of them might be in another country. So [Nuvocargo] just creates more visibility throughout the process, from where the goods literally are to visibility around your finances.”
But Nuvocargo is thinking beyond the actual movement of goods. The company is also starting to offer customs brokerage, comprehensive cross-border cargo insurance and factoring, or short-term account receivable finance. The last of these solves an especially difficult pain point for trucking companies, which sometimes must wait up to net-90 days to be paid.
The approach has caught investors’ eyes: Nearly one year after announcing it had raised a $5.3 million seed round, the company has closed on a $12 million Series A funding led by QED Investors and with injections from David Velez, Michael Ronen, Raymond Tonsing, FJ Labs and Clocktower. Existing investors NFX and ALLVP also participated.
The “holy grail” of their new offerings, as Chhugani called it, is trade financing. Because Nuvocargo will already have a relationship with companies, including an understanding of credit and fraud risk, its hope is that it can offer financial products at a competitive rate.
This is what attracted QED Investors, a firm that typically focuses on financial technology rather than logistics and trucking.
“After speaking with [Deepak] and seeing the connection points and parallels between what we were looking at in e-commerce and the challenges of actually getting goods across border, the fintech spark went off in my own head,” Lauren Connolley Morton, a partner at QED, said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The opportunities for factoring, for lending, for insuring goods are all very much right up our alley.”
Although Chhugani declined to disclose Nuvocargo’s valuation after this most recent round of funding, it’s clear there is plenty of room to grow into the logistics industry’s huge and seemingly disaggregated value chain.