Dynamo Dispatch (08/10/20)

Issue 117 | Weezy, Crossbeam, FleetOps

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
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🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

If you haven’t already, check out Episode 60 of the Future of Supply Chain where we host Craig Fuller, Co-founder and CEO of FreightWaves. We cover a lot of ground but our favorite parts were 1) the origin around the term “Freight Alley”, 2) OTVI and OTRI explanation, and 3) thoughts on the state of digital freight brokerage.

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

🌟A Perfect Opportunity for Digital Change. A trend of digitizing predictive maintenance has arisen and would help manufacturers and warehouses take a proactive approach to boosting worker productivity and cutting back on costly repairs. Similarly, in ocean logistics, Maersk CEO Sees Digitization Accelerating

Pandemic Creates Peaks and Valleys of Transportation Demand. Elevated demand caused some freight companies to increase investments in new fleets despite warnings of slowing consumer activity by the National Retail Federation. Across the industry, negative and positive indicators flashed in recent weeks, indicating more peaks and valleys are ahead turning into Q4.In final mile, Truckers are Bumping Less Docks and Ringing More Doorbells while trucking companies Increase Medium and Heavy Duty Truck Orders +98% Y/Y.

Walmart Delays Its Version of Amazon Prime, Again. Originally planned for late March or April, the launch date for Walmart+ was rescheduled for July. Now, the new date is unknown as Walmart’s US eComm presence has surged through the pandemic but only is an eighth of Amazon’s market share. Speaking of Amazon, Its Roboticists are Taking WFH Quite Literally.  

New Feature Roundup: CH Robinson Levels up Freightquote for Smaller Players, XPO Rolls Out Enhancements for XPO Connect, and Forager Launches Instant Cross-Border Pricing.

Uber Leaning on Food Logistics Over Ride HailingDelivery has turned into a staple of household spending as ride hailing suffered due to COVID-19. It will be interesting to see how Uber Eats evolves - it might be the crown jewel of the business. Freight continues to grow 25%+ with losses narrowing as the unit looks for outside investment. Related, Dynamo portfolio company, Skupos Announces Compatibility with 70% of Convenience Store Market as DoorDash Opens Online C-Stores

M&A Radar: Japan Post Looking to Sell Tollwhile PE Circles Kansas City Southern Railroad. The Toll unit has been an underperformer for Japan Post and could garner interest from PE (as a platform for tuck in) or strategic (acquire share and talent in AsiaPac). On land, Class 1 railroad, Kansas City Southern could follow the fate of Genesee & Wyoming as rail activity appears to be bottoming and due for a recovery in 2H 2020. It’s worth noting that KCS has exposure to US/Mexico trade that could be interesting if firms start to near-shore more manufacturing.

Demand Flood Drives USPS Losses. A 3.2% rise in revenues couldn’t outshine the massive loss for the USPS as increased labor costs contributed to a $2.2B loss for the quarter. The agency “does not expect its package revenue growth over the medium to long term to make up for its losses in mail service revenue caused by Covid-19.” Elsewhere, UPS Details Holiday 2020 Surcharges

Mobility 🚗

Do eScooters Need A Long-Term Lease Option?. A micromobility startup bets that eScooter enthusiasts will prefer paying by month vs paying by trip. This week across NYC and LA, Unagi enabled riders to lease scooters for $39/mo. This isn’t the first attempt at long-term scooter rentals, but maybe be successful if the durability promised by Unagi holds true. Elsewhere in micromobility, Jump Bikes are Now on the Lime App.

Consumers Hit the Brakes on Car Buying. McKinsey points to economic and public health uncertainty as underlying factors as to why intent is declining. Those who are buying are opting for used cars as “roughly one-third of U.S. consumers plan to spend less money on their next vehicle purchase compared with what they would have spent before the pandemic.” Also, COVID Might Remove 14M Cars from Roads.

Bentley’s New Motor With No Rare Earth Metal Magnets. Bentley recently joined a nine-partner study funded by the UK’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles centered on creating real-world applications. As a result, it developed a motor which is both cost effective and recyclable as it removes the need for copper windings.In India, Mahindra Seeks Investors for EV Business.

Timetable for EV Launches Remain Unknown. The pandemic coupled with other issues like automaker liquidity, changing consumer behavior, and the state of automaker supply chains are certain to delay the launches of several EV’s. Head of Automotive Advisor Services at IHS Markit indicates, “ The next four to six quarters will be critical”, but warned automakers should prepare for different market conditions globally. ICYMI, the Global EV Outlook for 2020

📊AAA: Partially Automated Systems Don’t Always Work. AAA researchers found over the course of 4k miles of real-world driving, vehicles with active driver assistance systems experienced an issue every 8 miles. It was noted vehicles had troubles maintaining lanes or coming too close to other vehicles/guardrails.

🌟Is Light Better Than Lidar?. Camera startup Light uses an array of inexpensive lenses with different focal lengths and advanced digital signal processing, effectively enabling cameras to see in 3D. Some see it as a challenger to LiDAR that only uses pulses of light to assess distances in AVs. Related, Understanding Distortion Correction Algos.

LiDARs for AVs: A Technological Arms Race. The declining cost, reliability, and universality of LiDAR could make it an attractive component in the race to L5 autonomy. But the notion of Tesla or others creating a complex neural network capable of taking on LiDAR’s effective use cases sets the scene for a race to the top. Elsewhere in AVs, Auto Chipmakers Remain Optimistic

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Weezy Raises €1M in Pre-Seed Funding Led by Heartcore Capital. Weezy is a London-based online supermarket platform for on-demand grocery delivery. The new capital will help Weezy open 15 more fulfillment centers and expand its UK operations. 

Food-X Technologies Raises $2.6M in Follow-On Capital. Food-X Technologies is an end-to-end software solution for profitable online grocery fulfillment. The new capital will help enhance its eGrocery Management Solution for retailers to scale safe food delivery and continue collaboration with Microsoft, Adaptech, Spud, and others. 

FleetOps Raises $6M in Seed Funding Co-Led by Inspired Capital and Resolute Ventures. FleepOps is a data-driven freight marketplace based in California. The fresh capital will help deploy its technology and proprietary dataset to brokerages around the globe. 

StreetLight Data Raises $15M Series D Co-Led by Macquarie Capital and Activate Capital. StreetLight Data analyzes traffic patterns to help cities improve its transportation efficiency. New capital will help them build on existing partnerships and launch programs to facilitate “a new level of travel velocity” brought on by COVID-19. 

Crossbeam Raises $25M Series B Led by Redpoint Ventures. Crossbeam is a collaborative intelligence platform helping companies build valuable partnerships. With the new funding, Crossbeam will accelerate hiring to meet its goals by year's end. 

ChargePoint Raises $127M in New Financing. ChargePoint is the World’s Largest Network of EV Charging Stations Across North America, Europe, and Australia. The new capital will help expand commercial and fleet customer offerings in North America and Europe. 

TradeGecko is Acquired By Intuit for $80M. Singapore based TradeGecko is a Saas company developing online inventory and order management software for small businesses. TradeGecko’s co-founders will join Intuit focusing on product and team integration. 

Levandowski Given 18 Month Sentence. The former Google engineer pleaded guilty in one of the biggest trade secret crimes on record. The sentence will be served once COVID-19 issues subside.

Jim Harley to Succeed Jim Hackett as Ford CEO. Hackett surprised the world last week after he abruptly resigned just three years into the role. Harley who has been COO will take the reigns as Ford seeks stability and direction at the upper ranks.

Company Building 🛠️

Independent Director Compensation. As a company scales, independent directors are an important part of governance but most Founders don’t understand their role let alone how to compensate them. 

Lessons from Rippling's COO. “Let fires burn. Your instinct as a disciplined manager is to survey the landscape and carefully deal with every issue. That is impossible at this pace. Some fires are less important than you think, and they burn themselves out anyway. 4/7.”

Inside Rounds Have Become a Sign of Strength at the Series B. Insider rounds are a double-edge sword - “easy” money but do they come at the best terms? That said, through a pandemic, securing runway matters more than terms. From our conversations later stage VCs, many had to support great businesses in their portfolio that were under undue pressure due to COVID-19.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

QA Engineer at Plus One Robotics in San Antonio, TX.

SDR Manager at Zeelo in London, England.

Senior Support Engineer at Skupos in Denver, CO.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Dynamo Dispatch (08/03/20)

Issue 116 | cargo.one, Byrd, ClimaCell

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

If you haven’t already, check out the most recent episodes of the Future of Supply Chain podcast. We’ve had a range of guests discussing topics such as design in supply chain, digitization of supply chain in face of COVID, and most recently, driveaway logistics.

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

McKinsey Anticipates Bumpy Recovery for the US Freight Market. As the pandemic has ravaged supply chains, McKinsey says the speed and likelihood of recovery will vary by commodity. Despite a 3-4 year anticipated recovery, McKinsey expects LTL and FTL to bounce back quicker than other modes of transport due to a mix of commodity profiles. But other readings suggest that freight markets are back as Intermodal Freight Volumes Point Towards Recovery.

Earnings Roundup: XPO Sees Substantial Decline in Q2 LTL Revenue, UPS Volumes Up, Profit Down, Airfreight Bright Spot for CH Robinson. Q2 results largely exceeded expectations with companies setting an optimistic outlook for Q3. Most interesting was UPS’ comment to focusing on better vs bigger which leads us to believe they might shed non-core business lines under new leadership. Further, it might help them drive investment into the next generation of technologies.

Shipping Charter Markets Heat Up. Resurging demand and increasing rates not seen during previous crises have shifted carriers back into charter markets. In tandem, daily hire rates are inching back up to near $10k a day from lows of $8k in May. In the sky, Airfreight Pricing Tightening as Passenger Capacity Leaves Market.

Amazon Sets Priorities With Peak Season Approaching. By years end, Amazon will double its fulfillment network. Demand shock has boosted sales and in turn, reduced typical delivery speed. As Santosh said, “Peak 2020 will be less about the speed of fulfillment but having a general ability to fulfill.” In the same vein, There’s No Stopping Warehouse Automation.

UPS and FedEx Take Advantage of Pricing Power.  Heightened eCommerce demand has pushed carriers' capacity to the brink and as a result, they've begun charging higher rates. Many common negotiation practices between shippers and carriers are now irrelevant as carriers hold “almost unlimited pricing power.” With peak season approaching and e-commerce demand exploding exponentially, it’s likely the carrier pricing advantage will continue for the foreseeable future. In DC, the USPS $10B Bailout Loan Comes with Strings.

🌟Meet Variant, US Xpress' Digital Asset-based Carrier. The addition of digital fleet Variant, fueled US Xpress to a 500 basis point increase for its operating ratio in their truckload business. Variant is a digitally managed asset-based fleet that allows for “forced dispatch.” For US Xpress, the fleet runs 20% more loaded miles/week and provides 70% lower driver turnover rates. As legacy carriers embrace data, it’s becoming more evident that Data Will Transform Transform Post Pandemic Supply Chains.

GoPuff’s Growth Challenges. By owning and operating its own warehouses in the neighborhoods they serve, GoPuff experienced record sales at the height of the pandemic. In turn, the pandemic has slowed the opening of new GoPuff warehouses and led to several expansion team layoffs. Adding to the problems, many residents in communities where GoPuff operates have complained of reckless drivers trying to meet delivery windows and parking illegally. One resident claimed “It’s concerning that they are expanding so rapidly and so irresponsibly… All they have brought is disruption and headaches'' to the neighborhoods they operate in. Related, Fabric Launches Microfulfillment Facility for FreshDirect while in Food Delivery, QSRs Boost Menu Prices by 15%.

Mobility 🚗

Tesla Demand Remained High During Pandemic. CEO Elon Musk said in a podcast Friday, “We saw strong orders through the whole pandemic, we still had a good order volume.” The company anticipates a hiring spree as it ramps of production of the Model Y at a Shanghai plant. Speaking of high demand, Ford Bronco Reservations Surpass 150k.

Is There a Possible GM EV Spinoff Brand in the Works?.  After the release of GM’s Q2 2020 earnings, CEO Mary Barra hinted at the possibility of spinning off an EV brand. We note the automaker recently announced a $20B commitment to EV and AV programs over the next five years. A spinoff might unlock some of the value in those assets as EV businesses are favored by investors. Related, See Toyota’s EV Battery Which Charges in 15 Minutes and Kandi Launches Affordable EVs in US Market.

Tesla is Open to Sharing Drivetrains and Battery Technology. As German OEMs try to play catch up, Musk tweeted that Tesla would be open to selling their enabling EV technologies to competitors. Couldn’t find a more mission-oriented statement in “We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!”

COVID Accelerating eBike Sales. It turns out that eBike sales have been accelerating in June after a spring slump. Brands like Accell and Giant are seeing higher growth and margins as a result. Backlogs are starting to build with pricing surging to $1,000 for entry models. In terms of micromobility, Revel Suspends Scooter Service in NYC After Recent Deaths and Techo Electra Launches Electric 60km Range Moped.

Zeelo Launches Zeeride to Power Coachbus Operators. Dynamo portfolio company announced the launch of its Zeeride platform this week. Zeeride is an independent platform that allows operators, large or small, to digitize their fixed route and shuttle services without the hassle or cost of building and maintaining the technology themselves. In light of COVID, Zeeride also ensures capacity is at a safe level in mass transit substitutes. In NYC, Electric Upgrades Are in Store for the Transit System.

🌟Breaking From China Proves Difficult. Rare metals are an essential component of EV production. A US push to break the dependency on China for rare compounds proves onerous as China is responsible for 80% of all the supply. Mountain Pass mine in California accounts for 12% of global production and has aided in weakening China’s dominant position. Experts believe alliances with smaller countries combined with government support can help establish the US as a self-sufficient producer of rare earth compounds. On a lighter and totally unrelated note, Meet the Collectors Who Spend Thousands on Rare Hot Wheels.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Tire Agent Raises $5M Led by American Family Ventures. Tire Agent partners with tire brands to give users a platform to browse tires online. The company now has $6M in total funding and didn’t disclose the specific use of funds. 

Byrd Raises $5.8M Series A Led by Rider Global. Byrd is a logistics startup using cloud-based software to connect retailers and fulfillment centers. Funding will be used to advance its global fulfillment platform. 

Buildbots Raises $13M Series A Led by TLV Partners. The London and Tel-Aviv based startup is using computer vision to modernize the construction management industry. The fresh capital will help scale the company and find new applications for its data. 

cargo.one Raises an $18.6M Series A Round Led by Index Ventures. Cargo.one operates a marketplace for booking air freight. The new capital will help expand the business and assist with increasing the number of airlines on its platform. 

Instrumental Raises $20M Series B Led by Canaan Partners. Instrumental is helping detect manufacturing anomalies through AI. With the funding, the company plans to expand its business in their electronics space. 

ClimaCell Raises $23M Series C Round Led by Pitango Growth and Square Peg Capital. ClimaCell is a forecasting and intelligence platform which gathers data. The company will expand its go-to-market efforts and focus on the fundamental R&D which drives its platform. 

AUTO1 Raises $300M Led by Farallon Capital Management and Baupost Group. AUTO1 is a digital used-car trading platform based in Berlin. The new capital will develop its retail brand, Autohero. 

Li Auto raises $1.1B in U.S IPO. The Chinese automaker manufactures extended-range electric SUVs. Li Auto debuted on the Nasdaq Thursday and raised $1.1B in its equity offering. 

DP World Acquires Majority Stake in Unico Logistics Co. Unico Logistics is a South-Korean multimodal transport specialist. The acquisition will help DP World grow as a smart supply chain solutions provider and create synergies between DP’s and Unico’s operations in the Asian Pacific and European regions.

Company Building 🛠️

The Rise of the Data Engineer. If data is changing supply chains, the data engineer is the agent driving that effort. Tomas Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures shares his presentation from a recent conference outlining the trends he sees powering these professionals and their organizations.

Enablers vs Growers. “Enablers are companies whose purpose is to make it possible for other businesses to operate. The most successful enablers, like Stripe, often create the opportunity for entirely new business categories to emerge or cross the chasm. Growers help their customers take the next step. With offerings and business models positioned to increase the value of their end customers, these companies often have the potential to capture the most value.”

🎧The Cost of Toxic Employees. Every startup has to deal with this through their life cycle and oftentimes first-time Founders waffle in managing these situations. It gets more complex when such an employee is productive but harmful to culture. Listen to learn more.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Senior DevOps Engineer at Gatik in Toronto, ON.

Account Executive at Backbone in New York, NY or Atlanta, GA.

Decision Analyst at nextmv in Philadelphia, PA or New York, NY (remote ok).

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Dynamo Dispatch (07/27/20)

Issue 115 | Mastery, Smarthop, Cowboy

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

We might be entering the dog days of summer but that doesn’t mean we’re slowing down. We appreciate any and all referrals to brilliant Founders looking to build the next industry-defining businesses in supply chain or mobility. Stay safe!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

🎥Brad Jacobs of XPO Discusses Diversity, Automation, and Recovery from COVID-19. In a 50-minute live Q&A, CEO and Chairman Brad Jacobs addressed some of the pertinent issues plaguing our nation and supply chain as a whole. He mentioned XPO plans to hire a chief diversity officer to “increase the pipeline of diverse candidates” along with increasing “the mentoring and promotion of the careers of all our employees [including Hispanic and Black employees].” Jacobs also touched on the likelihood of M&A, noting there is opportunity “particularly in the pandemic era”. XPO has made 17 acquisitions under Jacobs and is the seventh-best performing stock in the Fortune 500 over the last decade. Also from XPO, the COVID-19 Survey.

Walmart Canada Spends $2.6B to Upgrade Omnichannel Operations.  Walmart Canada will undergo an immersive 5-year revitalization to expedite, improve and reshape in-store shopping experiences. As a result of the investment, “Walmart pickup” will be available to 70% of its Canadian stores by year's end.  In addition to optimizing hybrid micro-fulfillment centers and building two new distribution centers, the plan will include using a state of the art WMS software, IOT devices for 2k trucks and blockchain payment solutions. In the US, Walmart Plans $220M DC in Charleston, SC.

Advanced Manufacturing Adoption Depends on Democratization. Post crisis years typically see elevated change surrounding industrial automation technologies. With the pandemic being a catalyst for change, manufacturers are forced to rethink their gameplans. Author Etienne Lacroix believes innovation starts with: launching the plug and play automation era, re-skilling the factory workforce, and creating the missing layer of advanced manufacturing. Related, the Push to Automate Warehouses Gains Steam. 

🌟Schneider Invests in a Jeff Silver’s Mastery Logistics. Mastery’s cloud-based TMS MasterMind which sets out to streamline decision making, improve resource allocation, and increase visibility has already begun integration with Schneider’s Quest platform. Mastery’s TMS equips asset-light brokers with tools for workflow automation and shippers with tools to understand their supply chains in regard to carrier capacity.  Also, understand how rate transparency helps all involved parties. 

eCommerce Booms May Elevate Demand for More Warehouse Space. By 2025, U.S eComm sales are expected to make up 18.1% of all retail sales and with many brick and mortar stores closing, that figure could surpass economic projections. JLL predicts an additional 1B ft2 of warehouse space might be needed to satisfy demand. With ⅓ of malls expected to vanish by 2021, converting dead malls could serve to meet interim demand. Related, Retail-Industrial Property Conversions Accelerate. 

Fiat Chrysler and Waymo Team Up for Commercial Self-Driving Vehicles. The duo will develop autonomous cargo vans and light commercial vehicles primarily targeting last mile delivery providers. L4 automation is expected to be implemented across the entire fleet of vehicles, meaning technology will entirely control the AV’s, only requiring human intervention in atypical driving conditions. Full development of AV’s is a capital intensive investment causing automakers to strike partnership in order to reduce costs. In Ireland, UPS Ditches Delivery Vans in Search of More Sustainable Alternatives.

Air Freight Rates Rise As Passenger Flights Exit Market. Falling capacity of Passenger freighters, weak passenger demand, and rising PPE requirements have sent air freight rates rising. Medium term predictions show demand and capacity of freighters are likely to rise. Meanwhile, Scrubber Fittings Plummet in the Face of Low Fuel Prices. 

Mobility 🚗

🌟📊MIT Report on AVs. Citing regulation, profitability, general safety, and high labor costs, MIT predicts full scale implementation of AVs still remains a decade away. The report takes a stance claiming “Unlike ride-sharing, there’s a real and present need for autonomy in trucking” and says driverless trucks can save $70B annually while boosting productivity 30%.  Speaking of AVs, Beep and “Local Motors” Team Up to Deploy 3D Printed AV Shuttles.

Expect Rivian Pickup Truck Delivery in June 2021. In conjunction with producing its coveted R1T and RS1 pickup trucks, the Michigan based manufacturer is also making 100k delivery vans for Amazon that will be in use by 2022. Numerous supply chain disruptions forced Rivian to temporarily halt production, and yet they remain on track for the 2021 release. 

Soundcloud Co-Founders Launch eBike Subscription Service in Berlin. eBike and eScooter subscription services are on the rise across Europe. For €59/mo, users of the Dance app gain access to an e-bike with guaranteed theft protection and maintenance services. Competitors price their e-bikes around €1,700, allowing Dance to pursue a market segment seeking a monthly subscription vs. an outright purchase. Elsewhere, Razor Introduces an Adult e-scooter Lineup. 

GM CEO Expects Full Economic Recovery by Early 2021. Despite GM’s sales being down 34% y/y in Q2, CEO Mary Barra still maintains a positive economic outlook. She stated, “The new outbreaks do pose potential setbacks, but we’re hopeful that the U.S. economy will be back to 90% of pre-pandemic levels early next year,”. Barra says GM has implemented top notch safety measures to mitigate cases and keep the company on track for Q3 and Q4 goals. Ford and Mobileye announce collaboration for collision avoidance system

VW’s EV Plans for Chattanooga Press Forward. Construction of the $800M production site nears 70% completion as factory equipment has begun arriving for installation. The German automaker will bring around 1k new jobs with the production of more environmentally friendly EV’s in TN. For now, the site will be assembling battery packs and will develop the capability to produce more than 100k EV’s annually once fully completed. Speaking of German Automakers, BMW’s X5 Will Get a Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Version in 2022. 

Wall Street Inserts Itself into the EV Equation. The SPAC or Special Purpose Acquisition Company has been around since the 1990’s and resurges as the preferred method for EV startups to go public. After witnessing companies like Draftkings and Virgin Galactic achieve initial success after IPO, Wall Street has identified a similar opportunity for EV startups, like Nikola (ticker: NKLA) who saw shares surge after its merger with VectorIQ and IPO as a SPAC. As Rivian, Lucid Motors, and Faraday Future scale up go to market production, it leaves us to question which method these promising startups will choose to IPO. 

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Swoop Raises $3.2M Seed Round Led by Signia Venture Partners. Swoop helps local medium-to-large sized transportation companies find customers. Funding will help Swoop grow its software offering for local transport providers. 

Smarthop Secures a $4.5M Seed Round Led by Equal Ventures. Smarthop enables customers to plan, search, and book loads from small trucking businesses. Funds will be used to further build out its engineering and marketing teams. 

Afresh Lands $12M For Series A Led by Innovation Endeavors. Afresh provides grocers with demand forecasting using AI and ML. With the new funding, Afresh will accelerate its expansion of company technology to more retail partners. 

Shelf Engine Raises a $12M Series A Led by GGV Capital. Seattle-based Shelf Engine provides grocery stores with demand forecasting for perishable food items. The new funding will be used to scale up the engineering team and its sales and acquisition process.

Sea Machines Pulls in a $15M Series B Investment Led by Accomplice. Sea Machines is an autonomous vessel software and systems provider based in Boston, MA. Funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of its unmanned naval boat. 

Cowboy Raises $26M Led By Exor Seeds. Cowboy designs and manufactures eBikes for personal ownership. It plans to expand headcount and it’s network with the new funds.

Xpeng Raises a $500M Series C Led by Aspex Management. Xpeng is a Chinese automaker developing electric vehicles. The new capital will be used to continue the development of its EV’s for the Chinese Middle Class. 

Mercado Raises $2.5M in Venture Funding Led by Ironspring Ventures. Mercado connects global supply with global demand to drive efficiency by focusing on the first mile. The fresh capital will help expand operations and its business reach. 

FreightWaves Raises $37M in Growth Funding Led by Kayne Partners.FreightWaves is a leading provider of trucking news, data, and analytics. Funding will be used for growth initiatives, including product development and potential strategic acquisitions. 

Gett Raises $100M in Additional Funding. The London and Israel based startup provides private car rides on demand. Investors of the round were not disclosed, but Gett noted some previous investors did participate in the round. 

Company Building 🛠️

🎥BC Marketing Summit 2020: B2B SaaS Branding. A presentation on the importance of branding in enterprise SaaS and how to leverage and reinforce brand in broader marketing efforts.

Traction Creates Opportunities. “As traction creates opportunity, it also creates greater complexity and can be a strain on cash flow. Founders should be humble when they have stumbled upon a business that has extraordinary traction, because while the most important thing may be in place, there are now many more things that could possibly go wrong. But that’s exactly the kind of problem you want to have as a founder.  It’s also the kind of environment you’d want to be in as a team member, because as traction creates opportunity for the company, that also means opportunity for you.”

Regulating Technology. Ben Evans dives into the regulatory deluge that technology companies are about to have to navigate. As “software has eaten the world” we’re seeing governments step up their oversight of key sectors or functions ala GDPR.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Integration Specialist at Stord in Atlanta, GA.

VP Sales at Skupos in Denver, CO.

Sales Manager at Zeelo in Italy (flexible on city).

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Dynamo Dispatch (07/20/20)

Issue 114 | sennder, Plus One Robotics, how.fm

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

Stay safe out there!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

Flexport’s Data Advantage Could Create Opportunity in the Midst of calamity. Despite the obvious challenges freight forwarders face in a global pandemic, Flexport claims their use of data has helped them win continued business. Properly using and understanding data helps provide transparency for Flexport’s clients as they try to “understand what the consequences were for their portfolio” as a result of tariffs and the pandemic. In surface transportation, Convoy Offers New Service Targeting Operators using it’s data advantage.

73% of Companies Report Supply-side Disruption During COVID-19. In a month-long survey of over 350 global manufacturers and retailers, more than 70% of respondents faced supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic. 40% of survey participants plan to enhance their due diligence processes of procurement operations and sourcing methodologies, as only “47% said they just knew the geographic location of their critical tier two suppliers”. 

🌟Trucking Reigns Supreme in Terms of Freight Movement. More than $790B in revenue was generated by the trucking industry after moving 11.84B tons of freight in 2019, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). Outpacing other industry sectors, 2019 trucking revenues accounted for over 80% of the nation's freight totals. Also, Despite a Recession, Freight Volumes are +25% y/y.

💥FedEx Implements Robotic Arms in Memphis Hub. Plus One Robotics (Dynamo portfolio company) deployed four new sortation arms with Yaskawa America to help FedEx manage peak season volume. The robots will help enhance efficiency ahead of “surge” this fall and empower human operators rather than replace them. In Erik’s words, “robots work, people rule.” In grocery automation, Takeoff Technologies Discusses Microfulfillment

Bob Biesterfeld on the Recovery from ‘Huge Supply-Chain Dislocation’. Reverberations from the coronavirus have forced some trucking carriers to close up shop but Biesterfeld believes the trucking environment has become even more robust than we saw heading into the pandemic. Biesterfeld’s optimistic tone paints an improving picture as freight volumes attempt to return to normal levels. ICYMI, CH Robinson and Microsoft Announce Visibility Partnership.

Navistar Takes Stake in TuSimple; Eyes 2024 for AV Trucks. Navistar proves bullish on autonomous trucks as they acquire a minority stake in TuSimple. Through this strategic partnership, Navistar and TuSimple plan to have their co-engineered Level 4 autonomous truck enter into full scale production by 2024. Speaking of trucks, Amazon Begins Using Larger Trucks akin to UPS and FedEx. 

Drewery-ESC Release Survey on Ocean Cargo. A new survey conducted by Drewery and the European Shipping Council indicates shippers and forwarders are most concerned with availability of cargo space as they select carriers. The survey also suggests that macroeconomic market volatility will continue to negatively impact relationships between shippers, forwarders, and carriers as the detrimental pandemic impact continues. Also, IHS Markit Economist on the Ocean Cargo Industry and Part II

Mobility 🚗

Want to Stop Car Crashes? Study Near-Misses. By collecting over 5k hours of data from high conflict roadways, Bellevue, WA used AI to extract and isolate patterns, aiming to reduce crashes in their city. Bellevue officials are confident the results can pinpoint citywide problem areas and allow them to transform into a “Vision Zero” city (no roadway deaths) by 2030. 

New York State Commits to Expanding EV Infrastructure with $750M Investment. New York State’s announcement comes on the heels of Florida deploying $8.6M to expand its EV charging capacity across the state. The environmental focused initiative will bring over 50k charging stations to the Empire State. Elsewhere, Auburn University Constructs AV Research Facility

Bosch Prototype eBike is 👀🍬. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its drive unit system, Bosch unveils a futuristic yet practical prototype of their eBike. While Bosch manufactures bike components rather than the bike itself, the prototype demonstrates the range of design capabilities by a Tier 1 such as Bosch. Related, eBikes to the Rescue

🌟German Court Bans Tesla Ad Statements Related to AVs. A German court has ordered Tesla to cease displaying misleading advertisements pertaining to the company’s driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. After several regulator complaints, the automaker has notified customers that automated driver assistance technology didn’t equate to full autonomous driving capabilities.  Meanwhile, Mobileye Wins Approval to Test AVs in Germany.

New Ford Bronco Copycat Has Already Appeared in China. Just seven days after its media debut, the new 2021 Ford Bronco already has imitators. Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors previewed images of the Wey P01, a vehicle eerily similar to the Ford Bronco. The P01 will be unveiled sometime in the coming week and available for sale shortly after. Also, the Ford Bronco Debuts with 10 Colors and the story behind The Bronco Designer, McKinley Thompson

Letting Your Insurer Ride Shotgun for Discounted Rates. Would you trade privacy for lower insurance rates? There’s an increasing number of apps tracking driver behaviors behind the wheel in exchange for discounted premiums. The apps track braking frequency, acceleration, speed, and cellular device during driving, amongst other features. 

Volvo Launches eBuses in Australia. Volvo deploys four electric buses after  partnership with Western Australia's Public Transit Authority.  The buses will reach full implementation in 2022 with aims to significantly reduce Australia's carbon footprint and create an entire fleet of electric vehicles for the continent. See how India’s e-bus experiment unfolded

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

💥sennder Enters JV with Poste Italiane to Digitize the Italian Road Freight Market. Dynamo portfolio company, sennder joins forces with Poste Italiane to accelerate the digitalization of Italy’s freight market. Through partnership with sennder, Italy’s largest logistics operator can now have complete GPS visibility of trucks, reduced CO2 emissions, and 6% savings on annual FTL spending.

how.fm Raises $2.8M in Additional Seed Funding Led by Kindred Capital and Capnamic Ventures.how.fm is a digital training platform for worker onboarding, training, and performance support, and actual work procedures and processes. The new funding will help how.fm grow their team in Germany and remotely as well as improving their product offering.

Swyft Raises C$3M Seed Led By Trucks VC. The Toronto-based last-mile aggregator plans to use funds to scale engineering and sales. Golden Ventures and Panache Ventures also participated in the round. 

Crisp Raises $12M in Series A Funding Led by FirstMark Capital.New York-based startup Crisp develops software to support information flows in and across the global food chain in order to reduce food waste, improve profitability, and feed the world. Crisp will use the fresh capital to expand its supply chain technology and build an open data platform connecting thousands of companies in the food industry.

Skydio Raises $100M in Series C Funding Led by Next 47. Skydio is a US based drone manufacturer offering fully autonomous drones for business, public safety, and creative ventures. With the capital, Skydio can accelerate their product development efforts and expand its go-to-market strategy while aiming to improve public sector drone technology.

Drover Raises $26M Co-Led by Target Global, RTP Global, and Autotech Ventures.Drover is a U.K based startup providing access to flexible car subscriptions lasting longer than a rental but shorter than a lease. The new funding will help Drover hire new talent and invest in new technology to calibrate price and personalize offers for individuals.

Voi Technology Secures Another $30M Led by VNV Global. The Swedish micro-mobility startup t offers electric scooters and bike-sharing in partnership with cities and local communities. Voi will use the funding to help fuel expansion into the U.K Market where the government has permitted test trials of e-scooters.

Flipkart Lands $1.2B From Lead Investor Walmart. Flipkart is India’s largest e-commerce store offering over 150 million products online across 80 categories. With new funding, Flipkart plans to expand their online services offered as they grapple for market share with Amazon and physical stores, who drive the majority of retail revenue across India. 

Uber Acquires Atlanta-Based Routematch. The public transit SaaS provider develops software that manages trip planning, vehicle tracking, payment and tools for fixed-route transit, and paratransit services. Details of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s evident Uber is slowly and strategically making their way into the public transit space.

UK Used Auto Marketplace Cazoo Acquires Imperial Car Supermarket. One of the largest independent used car retailers in the U.K has been acquired by Cazoo. After the acquisition, Cazoo’s plethora of storage networks, distribution channels, and after sales collection hubs will help accelerate the growth of Imperial Car Supermarket. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Company Building 🛠️

How to set up a KPI Dashboard for your Pre-seed and Seed Stage Startup. It’s interesting to see the varying levels of transparency in our portfolio. For the record, we err on the side of more transparency and at the very least, suggest some kind of a KPI dashboard to ensure everyone’s on the same page and marching to the beat of the same drum. 

16 Questions for Selling in COVID-19. A practical approach to sales in the current environment from the a16z team. There’s a lot of great perspective here - it’s worth the read rather than a summary. So we won’t do the latter =)

Invest Like the Best: Charlie Songhurst – Lessons from Investing in 483 Companies. Songhurst, the former head of strategy at Microsoft and a prolific investor shares lessons from his career. We particularly enjoyed his thoughts on startup features, why founders are unique people, and how successful founders win candidates.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

SDR at Plus One Robotics in San Antonio, TX.

Talent Acquisition Partner at Stord in Atlanta, GA.

Lead Data Engineer at sennder in Berlin, Germany.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Dynamo Dispatch (07/13/20)

Issue 113 | Rivian, Laserhub, InOrbit

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo Ventures covering the latest and greatest in supply chain, mobility, and building venture-scale businesses.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

Weekly Commentary 💭

If you haven’t already, say hello to our new team member, William. Also, be sure to check out Episode 56 of the Future of Supply Chain where we hosted David Cote, the former CEO and Chairman of Honeywell.

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh, Ted, Barry, and Jon

Note: please add “dynamo@substack.com” to your email client so you don’t miss future issues due to aggressive spam filters.

Supply Chain 📦

CEOs Turn to New CSOs as Go-To Lieutenants in Economy Broken by Virus. ‘Flexibility’ and ‘resilience’ are becoming buzzwords in C-suite discussions as COVID-19 has given supply chain executives increasing prominence within their organizations. Reinforcing their ascendance, research by Jan Godsell of the University of Warwick confirms that companies today are 5x more likely to have a chief supply chain officer than just two decades before.

Three Misconceptions, And One Popular Lie, About Industrial Automation. In a new piece, Forbes’ Amar Hanspar combats popular myths that industrial automation is expensive, eliminates jobs, and has not been successful. While acknowledging that automation-proponents may at times over-index for hype over substance, he argues that to ignore the benefits of automation is to deprive a business of one of its most powerful opportunities for advancement,  Offering a case in point, Robotics Finds Its Place in Fulfillment.

🌟Startup Helps Forwarders Convert Documents to Data. Featured this week in the JoC is Dynamo portfolio company Vector AI. Leveraging vision technology, the London-based startup is tackling one of the most fundamental inefficiencies in forwarding: the lack of document digitization. Also newly announced in international logistics technology: Cosco Strikes Blockchain Pact for Ocean Cargo With Alibaba, Ant.

📊Is 2020 the End of the Delivery Economy?. Taking stock of COVID’s impact on supply chain organizations and their clients, project44 finds that customer expectations for delivery performance and environmental sustainability remain high despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. 89% of survey respondents did not expect logistics companies to sacrifice visibility into the delivery process or arrival times while 78% said they would be more likely to make purchases from companies that prioritize sustainability. Also in trucking: Trucking Economist: Recovery Could Be a Nike ‘Swoosh,’ or a ‘W’ and Driver Concerns Top Executives' Priorities, Even during the Coronavirus.

Walmart Plans to Launch Prime-Like Service. Announced this week, Walmart will launch its $98 per year Walmart+ service providing same-day delivery of groceries and merchandise to compete with Amazon’s Prime offering. The move is Walmart’s second attempt at stealing Prime’s thunder, following the ill-fated ShippingPass program it discontinued in 2017. Helping provide Walmart with the necessary density, US Online Grocery Sales Hit Record $7.2B in June

📊McKinsey’s Startup Funding in Logistics. More than $28B has been invested in freight tech startups since 2015, mostly in last mile and B2C applications. Outpacing startups in other regions, Chinese companies have increased from 19% to 40% of total logistics funding activity from 2014 to 2019. Related: experts weigh in on Making the Last Mile Work for You.

📊The Commercialisation of the UK Civil Air Drone Industry. In a new whitepaper developed over the course of 2 years, the UK’s Drone Delivery Group, representing the interests of more than 300 industry stakeholders, calls on the British government to become a global leader in drone technology. Among its requests are the creation of a network of sandboxes for UAS testing and a formalized industry group to drive the evolution of the drone industry in the UK forward successfully.

Mobility 🚗

Self-Driving Tech Is Becoming a Game of Partnerships. Following Amazon’s purchase this month of autonomous vehicle startup Zoox, established automotive players are beginning to acknowledge how difficult it might really be to integrate self-driving systems in a reliable and cost-optimized fashion. Industry observers now anticipate a “great consolidation” that will see closer collaboration between startups and existing automotive giants. To that end, Amazon Plans At Least $100M to Keep Zoox Talent after $1.3B Deal. Also, new this week in AV tech, Voyage Introduces Telessist.

‘Million-Mile’ Batteries Are Coming. Are They a Revolution?. For cars today, a 200K mile lifespan is considered a good run - whether it’s powered by a battery or an internal combustion engine. However, multiple battery makers now claim they are on the cusp of offering a ‘million-mile’ battery with wide-ranging implications from dramatically impacting the second-use markets for battery recycling to accelerating our transition to decarbonization. Also in EV news, Honda Invests in China's CATL to Jointly Develop EV Batteries

🌟Dara Khosrowshahi’s Ambitious Plan to Make Uber “Part of the Heartbeat of Every Single City.”Following its acquisition of Postmates this week, Uber has rolled out a redesign of its main application, which emphasizes how central is additional services have become to its core ride-hailing capability. “We’ve really doubled down on our Eats business, extending not just in food, but from food into adjacent categories like delivery, like grocery, and essentials,” says Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Less certain is the future of app-based carpooling as detailed in The Evolution of Shared Ride and Pooling Services.

How May Mobility’s Autonomous Shuttle Ambitions Backfired. VentureBeat’s in-depth look into the YC alum’s rise and fall offers a cautionary tale for how even the best-pedigreed startups can still fall victim to engineering difficulties and limited operational applicability. The most insurmountable challenge? A poor product-market fit. As the Department of Transportation observed of autonomous shuttles, “The market is small, and many companies in this space have little experience designing and validating systems and producing vehicles, compared to traditional automakers.”

As Big Airlines Retrench, Some Carriers Detect an Opening. As commonly occurs in times of crisis, low-cost carriers are moving to pick up market share as larger rivals retrench. Southwest in the US and Wizz Air in Europe are among the most prominent carriers looking to expand their networks and renegotiate their supplier contracts for better terms. One interesting take on this week’s headlines: Why United’s Furlough Announcement Might Be a Case of Political Gamesmanship.  

📊Reimagining Infrastructure in the United States: How to Build Better. Roadways and transit constitute more than half of the estimated $2.1T infrastructure funding gap projected for the next 10 years. McKinsey offers two possible solutions 1) using federal-stimulus spending to boost capital budgets immediately that accelerate transformational investments or 2) seek to optimize pre-existing spending, improve delivery, and consider innovative revenue models.  Also this week, the NYT’s Farhad Manjoo provides an in-depth look at Manhattan's transportation infrastructure, encouraging city planners to rethink ‘car dependency.’ 

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Replenysh Raises $2M Seed Led by Kindred Ventures. California recycling startup Replenysh is building the operating system of material recovery — using technology to put an end to landfills and ocean pollution. With the funding, they plan to further build out new technologies and expand Replenysh’s network. 

InOrbit Raises $2.6M Seed Led by Amino Ventures. InOrbit is a California-based company providing cloud-based robot management software. Newly raised capital will go towards expanding the product team and developing best practices for robotic operations. 

Swiftmile Raises $5M Round Led by Thayer Ventures. Swiftmile is a startup that builds and deploys charging stations for electric bikes and scooters in cities. With the new funding, the plan is to deploy their systems in three new U.S cities and expand into Europe. 

Laserhub Raises Series A Led by Acton Capital. Based in Stuttgart, Laserhub is helping industrial clients order metal on demand. Details of the Series A round weren’t disclosed but the capital will be used to develop markets in and around Europe. 

Basemark Raises €7M Led by ETF Partners. The Finnish automotive software developer specializes in real-time graphics and system performance evaluation tools. The fresh capital will be used to accelerate the production of Basemark’s autonomous vehicles. 

Liftit Raises $22.5M Led by Cambridge Capital. Liftit is a Columbian trucking and logistics startup focused on last-mile delivery. With new funding, Liftit Plans to capitalize on their traction in current markets and expand services to new markets. 

Fisker Raises $50M Series C Led by Moore Strategic Ventures. Fisker is an American manufacturer of electric vehicles. Capital will be used for the engineering of the Fisker Ocean SUV, which is anticipated in 2022. 

FineEx Raises $71M Series D Led by Baidu Capital. FineEx is a Shanghai-based warehouse and distribution services platform. New funding will help the startup develop their business in the world’s largest e-commerce and mobile commerce market.

Instacart raises $100M Led by T. Rowe Price. Grocery delivery and pick-up service Instacart allows users to grocery shop from the comfort of their homes. Details of how the company would utilize the $100M were not disclosed. 

Rivian Raises $2.5B Led by T. Rowe Price. The Michigan-based startup produces electric vehicles and prides itself on cultivating sustainable transportation. The new funds will help accelerate the manufacturing of the R1T, R1S, and Amazon delivery vehicles.

Company Building 🛠️

How Today's Top B2B Companies Found Their Initial Customers. “In practice, it’s even easier — almost every B2B business BOTH hits up their personal network AND heads to the places their potential customers were spending time. The question isn’t which of these two routes to pursue, but instead how far your own network will take you before you move on.”

a16z Podcast: Gross Margins from Early to Late. Accurately calculating gross margins is not easy and as a company grows, the inputs around deriving this metric evolve and grow in complexity. This metric is important to master and understand given long term margin expansion and opportunity is a major driver of valuation.

How to Start Product Led Growth. Several of our more recent investments have clear levers to engage around PLG efforts. This is a great baseline for founders trying to piece together an initial strategy.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Enterprise Account Executive at Backbone AI in New York, NY.

Head of Customer Success at Vector AI in London, England.

Systems Integration Engineer at Plus One Robotics in San Antonio, TX.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Have you seen any interesting startups recently? Introduce us.
❤️ We would love your support. Please forward to friends and share on social media.
🗞️ If you were forwarded this and found it interesting, please sign up.
🎙 Check out Dynamo's podcast series, The Future of Supply Chain.

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