Dynamo Dispatch (03/16/20)

Issue 99 | Leaf Logistics, Backbone, Ride Report

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

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Weekly Commentary 💭

We’re in unchartered territory as the world moves to secure society in the face of COVID-19. We are standing by to support our portfolio, LPs, and the broader ecosystem. We wish everyone a safe and healthy week.

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 📦

Supermarkets Ration Supplies as Coronavirus Fear Empties Shelves. To ensure flu-related items stay in stock, grocers like Kroger have begun limiting the number of sanitizers, tissues, and cold products per order. Sales of hand sanitizers spiked 313% year-on-year for the week ending February 29. On the delivery front, As Coronavirus Fears Grow, Operators Offer Contactless Options.

How Shopify Is Leading the Online Resistance to Amazon. Powering stores ranging from Allbirds to Kylie Cosmetics, Shopify has emerged as the go-to platform for direct-to-consumer startups. Having invested $1 billion into its fulfillment network to enable two-day shipping, the company looks to compete more directly with Amazon, which today rules over half of all e-commerce sales in the US. Speaking of Amazon, Prime Will Falter During Coronavirus Crisis, Experts Say

Making Luxury Goods Under Coronavirus Lockdown. The Italian government’s ban on public gatherings has carved out an exemption for business activities. With remote production impossible, Italy’s artisans continue crafting for luxury brands under additional measures like daily temperature checks and mandatory face masks.

🌟Coronavirus Is Proving We Need More Resilient Supply Chains. Failing to learn from the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, many multinationals have been affected again by ill-prepared second- and third-tier suppliers based in the quarantined regions of China. Tech-enabled supplier mapping and monitoring tools are recommended as necessary investments to ensure resilient operations in the face of such crises. Related: 3 Ways to Manage Coronavirus Risk in the Supply Chain Also, Designing Flexible DCs for Uncertain Times.

MSC Deploys Mega Ships to Reposition Containers. Throughput across West Coast ports has dropped precipitously since the outbreak of the coronavirus. As part of its effort to overcome the problem, MSC is leveraging its fleet of 23K TEU vessels to bring much-needed empty containers back to the US.

Trucking: Uncertain Market Spurs Trucking Contract Innovation. For an industry generally opposed to rate flexibility and guaranteed volumes, the coronavirus has prompted new forms of negotiation between shippers and carriers. Industry players report more flexibility in contract pricing, allowing for some adjustment should rates jump or fall dramatically. Check out this toolkit from MIT, Future Freight Flows: Scenario Planning.

📊The 2020 MHI Annual Industry Report - Embracing the Digital Mindset. Top three company challenges include hiring/retaining qualified staff; meeting demands for lower delivery pricing; customer demands for faster response times. It’s unclear how the adopted technologies map to these priority areas but in the current environment expect investments in reducing overall costs. In terms of budgeting, most companies plan to spend <$1M on supply chain technologies over the next 2 years. Blockchain was at the bottom of adopted technology survey results so... Who Is Buying into IBM’s Blockchain Dreams?.

Mobility 🚗

📊The Congestion Con: How More Lanes and More Money Equal More Traffic. Transportation for America (T4A) report finds that congestion increased 144% from 1993 to 2017 despite the US adding 42% more freeway lane-miles during that time. Among its recommendations, the report encourages public officials to encourage driving alternatives, focus on improving existing infrastructure, and consider implementing congestion pricing. Speaking of roads, Why the US Sucks at Building Public Transit

Big Data Could Revolutionize Transportation. Is That a Good Thing? With the advent of smartphones and tech-enabled micromobility options, city officials now have the capacity to make data-informed planning decisions. However, pushback exists not just from private companies, loathe to share data, but also citizens concerned about privacy. Related, What Happened After Market Street Went Car-Free and in Asia, SoftBank Shareholders Push For Grab, Gojek Deal to Consolidate Ridesharing Market.

📊Charging Electric-Vehicle Fleets: How to Seize the Emerging Opportunity. McKinsey estimates annual revenue for EV charging to be as much as $15 billion by 2030. According to the firm’s report, companies will need to look beyond existing business models and consider partnerships or combined services to win the market. On the topic of electrification, Samsung Claims New Solid-State Battery Tech Can Give EVs a 500-Mile Range.

🌟Public Transport and Infectious Diseases. A review of Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore mass transit systems suggests that major cities can still maintain public transportation through a viral outbreak. However, upgrades like hand sanitizer dispensers and infrared sensors for temperature checks are warranted to make transit less infectious. On how cities can practice ‘social distancing,’ Public Transit and Public Health.

How Travel Startups Are Coping with Coronavirus. On average new bookings have fallen by half while customer inquiries have spiked. Nonetheless, the travel startups surveyed affirm that customer satisfaction remains a top priority with some even rolling out new products to ensure users’ medical safety during the Covid-19 outbreak. Also, Coronavirus Exposes Gig Workers to Risks.

Coronavirus Raises Fears of U.S. Auto Sales Slowdown, but Production Not Suffering Yet. Robust supply chains have prevented any production delays thus far for US automakers. However, cities hardest hit by the outbreak have already seen a significant decline in auto sales; Seattle falls the furthest with a 20% drop off. Related, Chinese Manufacturing Slowly Begins Recovery From Coronavirus Disruption.

British Airways Warns Airline is Fighting to Survive. In a dire memo titled “The Survival of British Airways,” chief executive Alex Cruz warns staff of impending job cuts and route suspensions. Comparing the current outbreak to September 11 and SARS, Mr. Cruz in his memo writes “What is happening right now as a result of Covid-19 is more serious than any of these events.” Also, Delta is Slashing 40% of Routes while Airport Operators Come Under Stress.

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Leaf Logistics Raises $20M Series A. Dynamo portfolio company, Leaf Logistics will use the fresh capital to expand its forward contract platform, which facilitates the buying and selling of transportation capacity through long-term binding rates with carriers. 

Backbone Raises $4.7M Seed. Dynamo portfolio company, Backbone emerges from stealth and has secured its first Fortune 500 customer with 15 more in the pipeline. Backbone offers a platform for automating data and workflows between companies.

Neolix Technologies Raises $29M Series A Led by Leading Ideal. The Beijing-based startup joins a host of other autonomous vehicle developers that have raised in recent weeks. The company will use the fresh capital to boost production of its Level 4 autonomous delivery shuttles.

Overhaul Raises $17.5M Series A led by Edison Partners. The Austin-based startup has developed a real-time visibility platform for managing cargo and will use the fresh injection to build out AI tools for predicting supply chain disruptions.

Ride Report Raises $10M Series A led by Unusual Ventures. The micromobility monitoring team already has a presence in 70 cities across the US and New Zealand. The fresh funds will support expansion into emerging markets.

HaulHub Acquires Trelar. Fresh off a $30M raise, HaulHub, a digital supply chain platform for the construction industry, announces acquisition of material ordering platform Trelar for an undisclosed sum. The purchase helps cement HaulHub’s position as a leader in the construction space. 

The Man Behind the Plan to Remake FedEx. Having started his career at the company as a marketing analyst, Raj Subramaniam has risen to COO and joined the FedEx board as of January. The architect of the company’s Air-Ground integration, Subramaniam is seen as founder Fred Smith’s likely successor, although the chief executive has no plans to step aside as of now. Related: UPS taps former Home Depot CFO Carol Tomé to succeed David Abney as CEO. Also, Mike Lenz to Succeed Alan Graf as FedEx CFO

Company Building 🛠️

A Guide to Managing Remote Teams. 60 pages of research to help leaders with the practicalities of managing a remote team. It could be useful for first-time managers or those new to the dynamics of remote work in face of WFH arrangements.

Advice for Companies with Less than 1 Year of Runway. “The hardest part of dealing with a low runway situation is managing your own psychology. You have to simultaneously manage your own anxiety to not be overly negative about your prospects, but also not be irrationally positive. It’s a delicate balance.”

Some VCs Urge Startups to Jump on Opportunities Amid Downturn. Ted had a similar rally for our startups - “Customers are going to need help right now and there will be huge opportunities for startups to help them in crisis management. Let’s all stay ultra aggressive.”

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Business Development Manager at Tenderd in Dubai, UAE.

Backend Engineer at Verusen in Atlanta, GA.

Fullstack Developer at ChAI in London, England.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.

💥 Seen any interesting startups or have any tips for the Dispatch? 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.