There are huge investment opportunities out there and end users are hungry for solutions that can bring real value to their businesses. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)
By Bart De Muynck
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWave or its affiliates.
After attending FreightWaves’ F3: Future of Freight Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee this week, it’s abundantly clear that logistics technology and investing in startups is far from dead. On the contrary, I encountered more tech startups across the entire logistics ecosystem at this year’s event than ever before. It shows how supply chain companies are digitizing their processes from procurement to payment.
The discussions in the hallway were both interesting and exciting and showed that the logistics industry as a whole continues on its digitization path. But there is a “back to basics” movement where companies are investing in newer technologies that focus on core parts of the business. It can be seen in logistics procurement technologies, new warehouse models, last-mile solutions, compliance platforms and many more. The energy was palpable as the participants were both eager to network with each other as well as learn what else is possible.
On Thursday, the last day of the event, the FreightTech Top 25 was announced. The results were quite surprising, with 70% being new entrants to the top 25 and most companies in the top 10 from last year absent from this year’s top 25. This showed a shift away in focus from the larger PE-backed companies to the smaller , often bootstrapped and VC-backed, startups. It showed a type of “new light through old windows” from the world of FreightTech and proved that new technologies have a chance to make a difference even in difficult economic times.
As an advisor to Venture 53, a venture firm focused on supply chain technology companies, it was great to see four Venture 53 portfolio companies enter the top 25: Better Trucks, MyCarrier, Highway and Fillogic. Only MyCarrier had appeared in the top 25 previously. Venture 53 is one of many investors who continue to invest in FreightTech. Venture 53 has just started a new fund, its third, showing that it is not slowing down investments, but rather doubling down on FreightTech.
There are huge investment opportunities out there and end users are hungry for solutions that can bring real value to their businesses. Continued investment in freight technology is essential for the modernization and optimization of the logistics and supply chain industry. It not only addresses current challenges, but also prepares the industry for future advances and opportunities, ensuring its resilience and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global market.
It was a great week, not because of the many parties and live bands, but because the industry came together to discuss the past year and focus on what might be possible for 2024. After all, logistics remains a people business, but technology helps people to work better and more efficiently. I am optimistic that within all the turbulence created by geopolitical and socio-economic influences, there is ample opportunity for logistics technology to make a difference.
Look for more articles from me every Friday on FreightWaves.com.
About the author
Bart De Muynck is an industry leader with over 30 years of experience in supply chain and logistics. He has worked for large international companies, including EY, GE Capital, Penske Logistics and PepsiCo, as well as several tech companies. He also spent eight years as vice president of research at Gartner and most recently served as industry manager at project44. He is a member of Forbes Technology Council and CSCMP’s Executive Inner Circle.