Top 25 supply chain management startups 2017
One of the most interesting things about the technological revolution is that it has turned some of the least glamorous areas of business operations into key competitive assets.
Shipping. Warehouses. The supply chain. Pre 21st century, none of these were where you’d be looking to get one up on your competitors. They were cost centers at best, and where it all fell apart at worst - a completely necessary but clunky part of doing business which could only move as fast as your workforce could pick orders and your carrier could ship them.
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Now, however, thanks to a surge of technological advancement, supply chains are competitive assets. On-demand carrier tools, warehouse automation, GPS tracking, route optimization and much more has changed all that - the more flexible and responsive you can make your supply chain, the more you can differentiate yourself from similar companies.
The innovative and highly exciting companies in the table have been picked and ranked based on growth potential, search presence and social media activity. Five of the top performers are profiled below.
|Company||Social media ranking||Search ranking||Growth ranking||Overall ranking|
|Red Stag Fulfilment||24||10||22||21|
Suitable for: companies who need a more flexible way to manage their freight shipments
Flexport is an air and ocean freight forwarder and customs brokerage built around a web app. The software offers users a significantly more flexible and responsive alternative to the spreadsheets, paper trails and emails traditionally used to manage freight movements - shipments can be rerouted down to individual pallets whilst en-route.
"There will be more international trade because of Flexport and international trade is a very big thing for there to be more of”
Flexport has raised an impressive $94m since its foundation in 2013. September 2016’s round of $65m worth of Series B funding will be used to fuel further expansion - and the company has its eyes on China as an area in which to invest. Their recently-opened Shenzhen branch joins offices in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and various locations in the US.
Flexport’s foresight in moving into an area that has lagged behind others in technologization has won them admirers in high places. In 2015 Paul Graham, founder of US seed accelerator program Y Combinator predicted "There will be more international trade because of Flexport and international trade is a very big thing for there to be more of”.
Suitable for: parcel delivery with minimal fuss when you want it
Shyp is an ‘on-demand’ courier service which takes care of the entire parcel delivery process for online sellers. Goods are picked up by drivers, professionally packaged and sent to the carrier best placed to carry out the delivery. On the other end of the chain, buyers can return items they purchased from select online retailers with minimal fuss using Shyp’s returns functionality.
Shyp raised $50m in Series B funding in March 2015, which was used to contribute to expansion into new areas. Shyp now operates in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Shyp’s services are used by a diverse range of clients, including design agencies, bakeries and technology companies. Designer Malene Barnett - owner of well-known design studio Malene B - says Shyp has cut the time she spends on shipping from 20% to 5%, with scheduled pickups allowing for more flexibility: “With most carriers you never know when they’re going to come. They give you a huge window—like 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.—and expect you to wait around all day. Shyp lets you schedule a pickup and you get a notification when they’re coming, so you save time.”
Suitable for: fast-moving companies who can't always be arrange carriers too far in advance
Billed as “the Uber for truck shipping”, Seattle-based Convoy uses mobile technology to connect users with nearby carriers. Users can book jobs instantly using an ‘on-demand’ app - both for short notice deliveries and for scheduled jobs. For carriers, Convoy finds jobs optimized for the lanes they run and suggests jobs that ‘connect the dots’ so that trucks drive fewer empty miles.
Convoy’s raised $16m in Series A funding in March 2016, with Greylock Partners as the lead investor. Despite only being founded in 2015, the company has won some impressive clients, including the North American arm of Unilever, who were impressed with the both the services Convoy offer and their approach to driver welfare. Convoy CEO and cofounder Dan Lewis called the partnership a “major validation of Convoy, our model, and the trust we’re building in the industry.”
Suitable for: improved supply chain visibility, safety-checked carriers and real-time analytics
Transfix is a shipment tracking tool that allows users to track freight shipments in real-time, analyze key performance metrics and find reliable carriers. All carriers in the online marketplace meet strict Transfix’s reliability standards, and are checked against stringent insurance and safety criteria.
"There is a lot of misinformation in the freight industry which creates pressure...that's why we're focused on providing a comprehensive solution for the supply chain."
Tranfix closed a $42m round of Series C funding in July 2017. The company is currently working with some of the freight industry’s biggest names to lower costs for shippers and carriers, decrease miles driven empty and reduce impact on infrastructure and environment.
CEO Drew McElroy hopes that his company’s solution will result in safer practices and happier customers: "There is a lot of misinformation in the freight industry which creates pressure, impossible - and sometimes dangerous – deadlines, misdeliveries, and ultimately the failure to satisfy customers. It's a problem that's ecosystem-wide, not just limited to a single part or parcel. That's why we're focused on providing a comprehensive solution for the supply chain."
Suitable for: companies who want to take warehouse automation to the next level
Fetch develops autonomous mobile robots to operate in industrial environments. These include material transport and data collection robots to streamline warehouse operations and monitor workplace environments, and platforms to facilitate research and development activities.
Fetch’s last round of investment came in June 2015, when it raised $20m of Series A funding. This has been used to expand sales and marketing operations and to meet growing demands for Fetch’s products from warehouses and fulfillment centers. Kabir Misra, MD of lead investors Software Bank US was optimistic about Fetch’s potential for transforming the future of warehouse robotics: "As businesses look for solutions to streamline operations and meet the needs of an on-demand economy, we see a tremendous opportunity for robotics to solve that problem," says Kabir Misra, Managing Director at SB Group US, Inc. “The team, the robots, and the timing all lead us to Fetch Robotics.”
Orderhive is an inventory management software for online retailers which allows users to automate inventory updates across channels like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce as well as manage drop shipping, wholesale orders, purchases, payments and shipment tracking.
Companies were ranked based on search presence, social media presence and potential for growth, taking into account growth rate and equity funding. All rankings were drawn up from publically available data.
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