Qargo raises $14M to digitize and decarbonize the trucking industry

Transport accounts for some 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and inland transport accounts for 72% of this total, with 69% coming from road vehicles. Given that empty or unfilled trucks produce more emissions than all international flights combined, much of those emissions could be curtailed by greater efficiency in this industry, which is still dominated by manual processes. This partly explains why Belgium-based startup Qargo has now raised £11 million ($14 million) in a Series A round led by Balderton Capital.

With the logistics industry facing rising operating costs, decarbonization pressures, hikes in fuel prices and cyber attacks, companies in the space are in tricky times. Many haulage companies have collapsed in the U.K. alone. There is clear pressure to digitize the industry to introduce cost savings.

While the transport industry does use legacy software platforms like Mcleod Software, Rose Rocket and Dash Doc, many of these platforms are from an earlier era. 

This is where Qargo hopes its newer technologies can help it leapfrog the competition. 

Founded in 2020 by Adriaan Coppens (CEO), Joeri de Turck (CTO) and Sander de Wilde (head of engineering), Qargo’s solution integrates with customers’ systems, and the company claims it can process orders up to 10 times faster than traditional tools. It can auto-import PDFs and automate address lookups, combine truck loads into more optimal journeys that reduce distances, minimize empty loads, and thus reduce carbon emissions.

“Most of the bigger logistics firms use legacy transport management systems: Basically a big database that takes a lot of manual data entry. Our system has a lot more integrations, some AI and planning optimization and basically does the same thing, but a lot faster and more efficiently,” Coppens said.

“Logistics is an older industry where the environmental angle doesn’t feature much. Trucking is a very inefficient sector, with a lot of pollution, and it’s one of the last frontiers that software hasn’t fully penetrated yet. The company planning is mostly done on paper or Excel sheets.”

Qargo claims U.K.’s Anglia Freight used its platform to achieve annual savings of over 200,000 miles and optimize routes by over 20 minutes per vehicle, per day.

Coppens feels customers like Qargo because it’s an operational system. “So if we would go bankrupt, which is a concern for some of our customers, then they would have a big problem because we do the planning; we do the invoicing. I hope that this funding announcement will give them more confidence — that we’re not just a startup that appears and disappears, but that we will stick around.”

The transport management software space is expected to grow to $19.1 billion by 2032, according to market research firm, Fact.MR.

In a statement, Rob Moffat, partner at Balderton Capital, said, “Logistics is a $5T market globally but is often overlooked by software companies. Most companies in the sector are still using incredibly dated software which does not meet their needs, and working around this with whiteboards and calls.”

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