Freight-tracking software startup FourKites Inc. has raised $50 million in new funding less than a year after its last round to back its expansion beyond trucking and U.S. domestic shipping.
The Chicago startup gathers live location data on shipments from suppliers such as Land O’ Lakes Inc. to retailers and factories that help businesses at all points on the supply chain more accurately predict when cargo will arrive. FourKites also tracks how long carriers typically spend at a farm, factory or warehouse site to predict when shipments will depart.
The latest C Series funding round announced Tuesday was led by existing investors August Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, CEAS Investments and Hyde Park Angels. FourKites has raised a total of $100.5 million since its launch in 2014. The company declined to disclose its valuation or annual revenue.
Founder and Chief Executive Mathew Elenjickal said the company’s revenue has grown by a factor of three since its last funding round less than a year ago as it has added new shippers and carriers to its platform. FourKites now employs 325 people, up from 160 a year ago, and it plans to double its staff again within a year, Mr. Elenjickal said.
“We have all these global customers using the platform, and that is really helping us build the network,” Mr. Elenjickal said.
Demand for timely freight-shipment tracking has been growing as companies such as Amazon.com Inc. reset customer and business expectations for visibility into shipping. Knowing when shipments will arrive and depart reduces the wait time caused by delays, a critical factor for companies competing for drivers and warehouse workers in a tight labor market. Some large retailers such as Walmart Inc. have imposed fines for early or late deliveries.
“Nowadays you cannot be a supplier of any product if you can’t provide your customers with much better visibility of when a particular shipment will arrive,” said Bart De Muynck, a supply chain analyst with Gartner Inc.
Mr. De Muynck estimates the market for real-time transportation visibility software is around $120 million, and he expects that to double or triple annually in the coming years.
FourKites’ main competitor is fellow Chicago-based startup project44, Mr. De Muynck said. Two other players, MacroPoint LLC and 10-4 Systems Inc., were acquired by other firms in 2017.
Ajay Agarwal, a partner with Bain Capital Ventures and FourKites board member, said the company isn’t looking to be acquired for now.
“With the new funding we have very long runway from here,” Mr. Agarwal said. “Our plan is to continue building a large stand-alone independent business.”
That includes extending into global markets and other transportation modes, including airfreight shipments, he said.
Jason Wicklund, a transportation buyer for Land O’ Lakes, said FourKites software has helped the company cut the four-hour window it had provided its customers for estimated delivery arrivals.
When the recent Polar Vortex disrupted some supply-chain operations in the Midwest, Mr. Wicklund said FourKites helped identify where delays were occurring and communicate them to customers.
“We were able to give a proper ETA, whether due to the weather, road closures or delays with trucks getting started right away in the morning,” Mr. Wicklund said. “It certainly has helped a lot.”