UK digital freight forwarder Beacon attracts investment from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

London-based digital freight forwarder and supply chain finance company Beacon has raised over £15 million in funding, with investor including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Silicon Valley venture capital firm 8VC. Beacon was founded in 2018 by chief executive Fraser Robinson and chief operating officer Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives, and have been joined by chief technology officer Pierre Martin, previously head of software engineering for packaging and  freight transport technology at Amazon. In a statement Robinson said that the traditional freight forwarder model remained “surprisingly analogue”, as it was using systems and processes that he believed were slow and inefficient, with “opaque pricing and limited use of technology”.

He said that the goal of Beacon was to “disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarding market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product”. Beacon describes itself as using best-in-class AI, search, optimisation, data science, cloud and automation technologies to offer a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo as well as a marketplace view of global shipping costs and price. “We also believe that our ability to offer supply chain finance can be transformative for our customers by allowing them to better control and manage their cash flow,” he said.

Beacon offers qualifying customers financing within 72 hours, which it says also entitles them to shipping discounts. “We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time – these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence,” said Robinson. “With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of Covid-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever.

Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively, enhance their experience and cut their costs.

We look forward to meeting that demand.”

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