Dynamo Dispatch (04/27/20)

Issue 104 | Schüttflix, Nuvocargo, SparkCharge

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 💭

Happy Monday! Over the last few weeks, we’ve published our perspectives about the Antifragility of Supply Chains and The Coming Build Up of Safety Stock. We’ve seen further data points and commentary from the supply chain supporting this perspective. On the former, Stifel and Princeton Research predict a ramp in technology spending by shippers while supply chains show signs of inventory build-up in light of reduced productivity.

Stay on top of our latest perspectives and research on our blog.

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 📦

US Import Plunge Inevitable as Canceled Sailings Mount. Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence reports more than 7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of container capacity to Europe and the U.S has been blanked as carriers adjust capacity to reduced COVID demand. Carriers so far have kept prices steady, ensuring all remain solvent for the time being;. However, the future appears ominous as Global Container Shipments Set to Fall 30% in Next Few Months. Meanwhile across the pond, there’s fears the UK Could Run Out of Warehouse Space in Two Weeks as Imports Pile Up

📊 Chain Reaction: Leadership Perspectives from the World’s Top Supply Chain Executives. From their survey of 235 chief supply chain officers across 23 countries, Egon Zehnder finds that developing talent ranks just as highly as improving the efficiency of the supply chain at their organizations. From the feedback compiled, the advisory firm recommends that supply chain leaders put culture first, build a collaborative organization, and invest in executive development. 

New product radar: FourKites Launches Sustainability Dashboard, UPS Partners with Softeon on WES, and p44 Upgrades Network Management Center.

US Intermodal Sector Braces for Lasting Pain as Traffic Numbers Plumb New Depths. Traffic numbers from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) show intermodal volumes at the end of March falling 15% to Great Recession levels. With car loads and coal loads already sagging, ports look to offer little relief with US-bound ocean shipments also down 10.1%. In rail, Many Freight Locomotives No Longer Needed while America’s Small Truckers See Demand Plummet.

Logistics Technology Provider Survey.Conducting its annual survey of logistics technology providers, Inbound Logistics finds that cost reduction, visibility, and transport optimization are the three most critical challenges reported to be facing customers. Offered by 53% of respondents, supplier management was the most popular supply chain solution while predictive analytics jumped more than 20 percentage points over the previous year to reach third in the rankings (47%); both indicative of COVID’s impact on logistics businesses. Also, Survey: 42% of Shipping and Freight Professionals want to Change Their Supply Chain Strategies Post COVID-19

COVID-19 Fast-Tracks North Carolina Zipline, Matternet, Flytrex Drone Deliveries. Spurred by necessity in the face of coronavirus, the North Carolina Department of Transportation announces three new drone delivery projects to support medical facilities and social distancing through the pandemic. Zipline and Matternet drones will take to the skies of Charlotte and Raleigh respectively to support deliveries of PPE and medical supplies; meanwhile, Flytrex will make food deliveries throughout the neighborhoods of the smaller town of Holly Springs. Related, the FAA has granted The First COVID UAV Waiver for a Texas oil and gas operation.

IHS: Commercial Vehicle Production to Drop 20%. Citing plant closures and falling freight demand, IHS anticipates a slump in the commercial vehicle market coinciding with a global 3% decline in GDP this year. The research firm predictions amount to a 198,000 drop in production for Classes 4-8 trucks from its previous North American forecasts. Elsewhere there have been novel stimulus ideas for commercial fleets: Vox makes the case to Electrify USPS Mail Trucks

Mobility 🚗

The Subway Is Probably Not Why New York Is a Disaster Zone. Responding to a recent paper by MIT health economist Jeffrey Harris, Alon Levy of Pedestrian Observations combats the claim that The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City. Levy acknowledges that Manhattan had a larger reduction in subway ridership than the other boroughs and also a slower infection rate; however, he posits a range of confounding factors that mitigate causation. Among his most compelling assertions are that residents of Manhattan more than any other borough fled the city to shelter in place elsewhere and that as the New Yorkers with highest income on average, Manhattanites are the most likely to work from home thus making them the least liable to contract the virus through the workplace and not just through public transit.

📊A New World for Airports. In a presentation released this month, Bain warns the airline industry, “Traffic recovery will not be a V-shaped bounce back: it will be long and painful.” Key points of the crisis game plan the consulting group puts forward include establishing a dedicated business unit to track all coronavirus updates, prioritizing safety, designing a set of 2-3 year scenarios that separate 2020 from beyond, and prioritizing cash by drawing down on all existing credit lines and immediately engaging in renegotiations with OEMs and strategic suppliers. For a design firm’s take on the future of air travel, check out Aeroplane Seats Could Be Fitted with Glass Hoods to Separate Passengers

The Evolution of Parking Lots in the Face of COVID. According to SpotHero, demand for parking is down 90% since mid-March.  Along with Curbstand and AirGarage, a new crop of parking startups are seeking to re-envision how America uses its lots, where there are 3 non-residential parking spots for every car. Pivoting during the COVID outbreak, these startups have helped repurpose lots for drive-in movies, pop-up grocery stores, and even doctor consultations. Also, How Car Design is Changing at Jaguar Land Rover due to COVID.

Bird’s Big Workplace Problems. 406 out of Bird’s 1,400 global employees lost their jobs March 27th over a two-minute Zoom webinar. The Verge’s Julia Black speaks with 16 former employees who paint the picture of a workplace culture so fixated on growth that the micro-mobility company overlooked the churn of its own ‘BirdFam.’  In New Zealand, Bicycles Are the New Toilet Paper.

📊Consolidated Coronavirus Maps and Dashboards Made by Tech Giants. Powered by data from millions of users, Apple and Google have leveraged their anonymized insights to support contact-tracing in the fight against COVID-19. Business Insider has aggregated their dashboards along with Facebook’s to show decline in movements not only across countries but even across establishments types. (For most cities, the only decline greater than retail outlets has been public transit.) For the source material itself, see Google’s Community Mobility Reports and Apple’s Mobility Trends.

GM Shuts Down Car-Sharing Service Maven. Initially launched in 2016 as a competitor to Zipcar, Maven had altered course in 2018 to allow car owners to share their vehicles on the service as well. However, in an email to customers sent on Tuesday, the company has announced, “After critically looking at our business, the industry, and what’s going on with COVID-19, we have made the tough but necessary decision to wind down our business.” Elsewhere in ride-hailing, Uber launches new delivery services as demand for ride-hailing plummets

The Race For The Electric Car. With battery prices decreasing more than 80% since 2010, car owners increasingly have economic as well as environmental and political incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle. While it is expected that 55% of all new car sales will be electric by 2040, consumer demand between now and then remains difficult to track with some analysts predicting a global over-supply of 14M electric vehicles by 2030. Beyond investments in battery tech and charging infrastructures, OEMs must also be mindful of their manufacturing strategies to ensure they can flexibly scale production to match demand. 

Fundraises, M&A, Talent 💸

Didi Raises $1B for Bike Rental Service Qingju. Incubated in-house, Qingju is ride-hail giant Didi Chuxing’s two-wheel bet on bike-share becoming a major growth driver. The raise kickstarts the company’s pursuit of its ‘188’ goals over the next three years: 100M daily trips, 800M MAUs, and 8% penetration rate in the mobility market.

Bain Capital Invests $50M in Merchants Fleet. Bain’s investment in the fleet management company comes as demand has spiked for the New Hampshire-based business which rents vehicles to companies for deliveries.  With the investment, Merchants Fleet expects AUMt to triple to $3B by 2024.

Parsyl Raises $15M Series A Led by GLP. The Denver-based company provides IoT cargo solutions for shippers to track goods as they move through the supply chain. Leveraging that visibility to help gauge and mitigate risk, the fresh injection will support the launch of Parsyl’s new suite of insurance products.

Gauzy Raises $10 Million in Series C Led by Hyundai. The Tel Aviv-based startup has developed high tech windshields that apply dynamic shading to adjust the light of car windows and even allow image broadcasting both inside and outside the vehicle. Eleven OEMs have already begun integrating Gauzy’s product in their models, with the first slated to reach mass production by 2021.

Schüttflix Raises €8 million Led by Speedinvest. The self-styled “Uber for the construction industry” provides a B2B marketplace for on demand delivery of construction goods. The new capital will be used to scale the company throughout Germany with plans to expand internationally in 2021.

Nuvocargo Raises $5.3M Seed Led Co-Led by NFX and ALLVP. Focusing on trade routes between Mexico and the US, Nuvocargo provides a managed marketplace that helps streamline the stakeholders involved in cross-border trucking. The company’s free software digitizes the extensive customs paperwork, offering visibility to customers through its centralized cloud-based dashboard.

SparkCharge Raises $3.3M Seed Led by PJC. Tackling the issue of range anxiety for EV drivers, SparkCharge has developed a portable, ultra-fast electric vehicle charger. The fresh investment will help accelerate growth as the company enters its first year of mass production.

MUVO Raises $2M Seed Led by Auteco Mobility. Raising amidst the country’s mandated quarantine, the Colombian micro-mobility startup has nonetheless secured fresh capital from electric vehicle company Auteco. The investment will add 500 new e-bikes to MUVO’s fleet in Medellin and Bogota. 

ampUp Receives Investment from Leading Automakers. While the round size is undisclosed, investors include SAIC Motor, Hyundai Motor Company, and Forest Ventures. The startup has developed a software platform that enables smart scheduling and dynamic access control for electric vehicle charging stations. 

Company Building 🛠️

Selling Multi-Million Dollars Products to Technical Customers. Recap of the NYETM from our friends at Work-Bench covering the sale of high-value, technical products to technical teams. One point that we find ourselves repeating is “While a self-service model may seem like an easy way to pull in technical customers right off the bat, it’s actually very difficult for early-stage startups to pull off successfully.”

The Remote Design Sprint Guide. In a softening sales environment, we’re seeing many portfolio companies double-down on product… don’t let WFH rain on the Spring parade. 

The New Rules of Growth vs. Profits. NFX offers a framework for startups of all stages to balance growth and profits. For seed stage startups, see Slide 8 and the reminder about finding product/market fit before ramping burn. 

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Decision Analyst at nextmv in Philadelphia, PA (open to remote).

Front End Developer at SVT Robotics in Norfolk, VA.

Senior Project Manager 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.