nowportsan automated digital freight forwarder in Latin America, has raised $150 million in a Series C financing round, valuing the company at $1.1 billion.
For the unfamiliar, digital forwarders use digital tools that improve communication and efficiency in the shipping process, including to help shipments get to their destination on time. With so much focus on supply chain issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of an efficient supply chain is clearer than ever. To quote my colleague Anna Heim, digitizing freight forwarding is a global challenge as the industry still lacks transparency and efficiency. Latin American startups have a steeper hill to climb, but this also drives them to innovate and help each other in interesting ways.
Nowport’s raise — led by SoftBank Latin America Fund — comes just six months after the Monterey, Mexico-based startup announced it had raised $60 million in a Series B financing round led by Tiger Global Management. It also marks Nowports’ third capital raise in less than a year, bringing total funding to more than $240 million since the start of 2018. The company had also raised $16 million in 2016. a Series A funding round which businesstraverse.com reported in July 2021.
The startup’s valuation jump is huge, given that nowport used to be valued at $80 million in March 2021, according to CEO and co-founder Alfonso De los Rios† In the first quarter of 2022, the company saw its sales grow “more than 12x” year-over-year, he said, while delivering 10x year-over-year growth in container shipped and customer service.
Nowport elevated his first seed round in 2019 after graduating from the Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch with a mission to innovate the freight forwarding industry by helping companies – with an emphasis on SMEs – improve the import process. As former TC reporter Jonathan Shieber put it, the company was[ing] itself into the Flexport of Latin America.” The software and services track cargo shipments from ports to destinations across Latin America. Over time, it has expanded its offering and now also automates insurance policies for and provides inventory financing to its customers.
Easy said, Nowports aims to streamline the import and export processes of Latin American companies and improve the visibility of their supply chains with ‘valuable information’.
The company’s inventory financing tool — released last year — is designed to give its customers the ability to buy more goods for import and pay for them later. The end goal is to help companies increase their imports and exports with fintech.
“They can get faster financing with Nowports because we can use our shipping history and preloaded information to approve them,” said De los. Rios† “We started Inventory Financing late last year and have plans to offer it in every country where we operate by the end of this year.”
The move, in addition to offering freight insurance, is part of Nowport’s goal to serve as a one-stop shop for the businesses it serves.
In the first quarter of 2022, Nowports started operations in Panama and expanded to Concepcion, Chile and Medellin, Colombia. Today, the startup has 10 active offices in seven countries, including Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Panama. It has more than 500 employees.
The company plans to use its new capital to hire more staff, of course, with an emphasis on engineering for technology development. It also plans to expand its presence in countries where it already operates and open offices in more cities. The first planned openings will be in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.
Also participated in the last round were Tiger Global, Foundation Capital, Monashees, Broadhaven Ventures, Mouro Capital and Base10 Partners. Daniel Vogel from Bitso, Ricardo Amper from Incode, Alex Bouaziz from Deel and Roger Laughlin from Kavak also took part in the round.
†We did not expect to start Series C so quickly, but we grew by giant steps, we are now competing in the top five countries for maritime trade, entering the fintech environment and with a strong team,” said De loose. Ríos told businesstraverse.com† †We needed another round of investment to expand our financing services and create a robust platform. We are convinced that with this new capital we can revolutionize the supply chain more quickly.”
Juan Franck, managing partner of SoftBank Latin America Fund, said: Nowports has all the attributes the company looks for in a startup: “technology at its core, a promising business model, exceptional founders and a solution to a complex challenge, with great potential for transformation, starting with Latin America.”
He is also impressed with the use of artificial intelligence, big data and IoT to improve the import and export chain.
“We believe the investment will help Nowports to consolidate its presence in the Brazilian market and create new services and solutions, making it a true benchmark in innovation in Latin America,” Franck added.