B2B Payments

Customizing And Digitizing The Ocean Freight Game

Manufacturers are reaching out overseas for new business, and corporate buyers want the best deals, which often come from international sources. For a plethora of reasons, the supply chain has gone global, an innovators are looking at ways to erase some of the roadblocks that emerge from this trend due to cross-border restrictions.

Flexport, for example, looked at the complicated area of sea freight, which comes with complex differences in legal matters across jurisdictions. The company recently raised $6.6 million from investors including Google Ventures and Ashton Kutcher’s own startup fund, a Bloomberg report said, to help expand Flexport’s services.

The startup offers a Web-based portal and Software-as-a-Service for business customers to connect with freight carriers. Flexport automates the customs, international taxes and other sea freight logistics issues that can often become a nightmare for companies doing international business. Plus, the company eases the burden of paperwork for importers.

"The world wants software to manage their business,” Flexport founder Ryan Petersen. “They’re used to using software to do everything and then all of a sudden they’ve got to move their freight."

The company, just two years old, is working to solve a largely unexplored area of B2B logistics. According to Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, who first discovered Flexport, success in this company means “there will be more international trade because of Flexport, and international trade is a very big thing for there to be more of."

Reports said that while the startup has a high hill to climb – especially with the high failure rate among startups – the financial backing of Flexport signals how confident investors are that if anyone were to succeed in this space, it would be this firm. The company currently employs 31 and is based in San Francisco. About half of its clients are fellow startups, reports said.


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