Flock Freight, a technology startup that offers a shared truckload shipping solution, has raised $113.5 million in a Series C, the latest in a series of noteworthy funding rounds completed by maturing digital freight companies.
SoftBank Group Corp. (OTC: SFTBY) led the round, with participation from existing investors SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners and Google Ventures, as well as a new strategic partner, Volvo Group Venture Capital, which provides support from the OEM’s trucking arm.
Based in San Diego, Flock Freight will use the funding to accelerate developments for the company’s “algorithmic pooling” technology, which seeks to transform existing less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) shipping models.
LTL shipments typically move through the industry’s hub-and-spoke system, Oren Zaslansky, founder and CEO of Flock Freight, told FreightWaves. This requires trucks to transport less-than-truckload freight to a processing facility, where it is distributed via another truck.
But with Flock Freight’s solutions, LTL shipments travel with a TL carrier as a shared truckload, avoiding hubs and unloading and reloading, which can cause loss, damage, and delays.
To date, most advancements in freight tech have largely focused on improving efficiencies through “simplified load matching,” Zaslansky said.
Flock Freight’s shared truckload solution, he noted, aims to leverage technology to reshape the way freight is actually moved, enabling several shippers with partial loads to share trailer space in one multistop, full truckload.
To be clear: Bundling partial loads to improve efficiencies is not exactly a new idea. Shippers and carriers have done just that “since the dawn of time,” Zaslansky acknowledged in an earlier interview with FreightWaves.
What distinguishes Flock Freight is its automated product offering that brings an ad hoc system into the 21st century.
The company’s algorithms propose shared truckloads for LTL shipments that are going the same direction, optimizing transit routes based on first-in, last-out loading constraints, and moving multiple loads on one truck.
As a result, shipments that don’t fill an entire truck and would otherwise trans-load or cross-dock several times move via truckload service.
That shared solution helps shippers boost supply chain sustainability, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40%, according to the company, which is one of the first in the industry to earn B Corp certification, an environmentally friendly business designation.
Ticking off some of the lessons learned since launching in 2015, Zaslansky said top of the list is understanding that pooling freight is extremely complex.
“Unlike carpools,” he said, “pooling freight entails factoring in the order of pickup and delivery, knowing what’s being shipped so that motor oil is not shipped with granola bars, optimizing routes so the number of empty miles is reduced and more.”
Flock Freight takes into account all the factors — big and small — for shipments to be pooled, he said.
With its latest round, Flock Freight joins several other digital freight startups that have recently secured sizable later stage venture capital investments.
Earlier this month, Loadsmart, a digital freight brokerage, raised a $90 million Series C round led by BlackRock. In October, Uber Freight, another brokerage, raised $500 million from Greenbrier Equity Partners.