BlueCargo has raised $11 million in a new round led by Soma Capital and Left Lane Capital. The company optimizes logistics in port terminals and reduces late fees for drayage trucking companies and shippers. Other investors in the company include Mike Roth, Cathexis Ventures, EXPA, SpringTime Ventures and HyperGuap.
When I first covered the startup, the company was working with port terminal companies to optimize container storage. For instance, the first container that was going to leave the terminal would be stored at the top of a pile.
But the company has pivoted a bit in 2019 and 2020. BlueCargo is now a software solution focused on dispatching, planning and scheduling for truckers and shippers.
“We don’t sell to ports. Instead, we connect to all ports and we provide a scheduling and dispatching platform,” co-founder and CEO Alexandra Griffon told me.
Over the past couple of years, logistics has been a huge pain point in general due to COVID restrictions that affected different parts of the world depending on the season. “In January 2022, there were 103 container vessels waiting at anchor in Los Angeles/Long Beach,” Griffon said.
At the same time, late fees also exploded because containers ended up sitting in terminals for too long because of restrictions and bottlenecks. Trucking companies received invoices for these demurrage and per diem fees six months later. They often forwarded these fees to the shippers. But big corporations often asked for proofs to avoid paying these fees.
In other words, it became an expensive mess. “Late fees have boomed so much in 2021 and 2022 that we’re now talking about tens of millions of dollars in late fees,” Griffon said. In 2022, Forrest Logistics saved more than $5 million in fees by using BlueCargo.
BlueCargo aggregates data on a single platform to keep these fees under control. On the one hand, trucking companies can track shipments and follow the statuses of various containers. On the other hand, BlueCargo tracks gate schedules and helps trucking companies secure appointments to pick up and drop off containers.
The platform also tracks demurrage, detention and per diem fees across several ports. This could replace Excel spreadsheets for some logistics companies. Finally, BlueCargo can track container lifecycles and create supporting documentation to dispute late fees.
BlueCargo doesn’t want to replace truck management systems (TMS). It focuses exclusively on adding an interface between ports and trucking companies. Up next, the company wants to bring shipping companies to the platform so that they can flag containers that should be picked up first and see the overall status of their containers.
Interestingly, ports are just one intermodal location type. BlueCargo could also expand to other transportation methods in the coming years, such as rail freight transport. For now, BlueCargo is only focused on the U.S. There’s one thing for sure — there will always be some room for optimization in the logistics industry.