Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has joined the Series A funding round for a UK-based freight forwarding and supply chain finance firm.

Beacon raised more than £12 million in the round, which included US venture capital firm 8VC.

The Amazon boss joins Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in backing the London-based company.

The big-name trio were part of the seed round alongside VC firms Neo, Red Sea Ventures, Manta Ray and FJ Labs.

Beacon was founded in 2018 by CEO Fraser Robinson and COO Dmitri Izmailov, both former Uber executives. They were joined by CTO Pierre Martin, previously at Amazon.

Beacon aims to simplify how companies import and export goods globally. The freight forwarding and supply chain finance industries are worth an estimated $1 trillion and $12 trillion a year, respectively.

It already has an established customer base and is growing rapidly. Utilising AI, data science, cloud and automation technologies, it offers global ocean, air and truck freight, together with supply chain finance, via a single platform which combines a real-time view of the global delivery of cargo and a marketplace view of global shipping costs and prices.

The money raised in the Series A round will be invested in new hires, technology and market expansion.

Beacon co-founder and CEO Fraser Robinson said: “Beacon has attracted investment from some of the best minds in business and technology. The traditional freight forwarder model remains surprisingly analogue, using systems and processes that are slow and inefficient, with opaque pricing and limited use of technology.

“Our goal is to disrupt the trillion-dollar freight forwarding market by vastly improving the experience for importers and exporters with a more transparent and smarter shipping product. We also believe that our ability to offer supply chain finance can be transformative for our customers by allowing them to better control and manage their cash flow.

“We have built a team with deep expertise in technology, logistics and finance in a short period of time – these new funds will enable us to continue to strengthen that team and invest in our technology, while also increasing our international presence.
“With digitalisation accelerating globally as a result of COVID-19, we believe the future of the traditional freight forwarder is more precarious than ever. Shippers are seeking technology-led products and services that will meet their needs more effectively, enhance their experience and cut their costs. We look forward to meeting that demand.”