Berlin-based Forto, a digital freight forwarder also known as FreightHub, announced Monday it has secured $240 million in a Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Past investors Northzone, Iven Capital, Cherry Ventures and Unbound and newest investors Citi Ventures and G Squared also participated in the round.
The company has raised a total of $360 million since 2016 and, after its latest raise, is valued at $1.2 billion.
In a recent blog by the company’s co-founder, Fabian Heilemann, he attributed Forto’s new unicorn status to three major areas: industry partnerships, constant innovation and a culture built around efficiency and the ability to execute.
Heilemann said Forto was one of the only European digital freight forwarders that had been able to position itself with partners that had a large pool of ocean volume and rate history and were invested in shifting their operations into the digital era. Leading ocean carrier Maersk was an early investor of the company, and Forto has gained additional industry knowledge through a relationship with the Asian Spirit Steamship Company.
Funding details: Forto
SoftBank Vision Fund 2
Citi Ventures, G Squared, Northzone, Iven Capital, Cherry Ventures, Unbound
expand globally, improve technology platform, grow customer operations
Revenue run rate
New revenue run targets
Forto initially provided competitive spot shipments for full container loads for small to midsized enterprise customers but continued to innovate and add offerings including integrations, multimodal transport and a customs broker services.
For Heilemann, building a team that was on board with the company’s mission was just as important as building out Forto’s offerings.
“Putting culture first is about ensuring cultural alignment,” said Heilemann in his blog. “It is about making sure that everybody who joined the company was truly buying into the product vision behind Forto and motivated by the idea of making a personal contribution towards bringing this vision to life.”
Along with the new funds, Nahoko Hoshino, an adviser at SoftBank, will join the board of Forto to continue to build technology for the 2,500 customers currently using its digital offerings.
“Logistics is the backbone of global commerce, and data analytics, machine learning and process automation will reshape the global delivery of goods and services,” said Karol Niewiadomski, a senior investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a press release. “Forto’s centralized platform leverages these technologies to boost operational efficiency, lower handling costs and increase transparency for their customers.”
Forto noted that with the Series C funds, it will continue to expand its global footprint, build on its customer operations team and improve its platform offerings.