What does it take to get the world’s richest man to invest in your startup? No doubt these words have been on the lips of many early stage business owners following the news that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, has made an investment in a young UK tech firm…
On the receiving end of Bezos’s funds is a company called Beacon that specialises in offering “digital freight forwarding and supply chain finance.” Over the weekend, the startup announced it had raised in excess of $15m in Series A fundraising from investors including the aforementioned Amazon founder. But how did this early-stage business, started by two ex-Uber executives, gain his interest?
What Beacon (appears) to offer the market
Beacon seeks to make the global transportation of products across borders easier. Bezos, at the helm of a global e-commerce titan, Amazon, understands the challenges of supply chain management and the import/export economy firsthand. And if there’s new tech out there that can make the process more efficient, all the better for his business.
Using a combination of AI and other technologies, Beacon’s service irons out the micro issues for businesses transporting their goods globally, including streamlining the transportation of products from factories to ports and providing the paperwork necessary for exportation.
Offering international services across the freight sector including by air ocean and land, the real USP of Beacon is its single platform usage. Their technology allows global deliveries to be seen in real time, it also provides data on shipping costs and prices while its machine learning tools optimise routes and transport processes to find the most efficient methods for its users.
Another key factor that makes Beacon stand out is its ability to offer ‘fast finance’. The firm says it can offer finance within 72 hours to importers, who often get financially squeezed by having to pay suppliers before their goods arrive.
Why Bezos is interested
Bezos’s reasons for investing in Beacon are clear. Not only is international trade fraught with transportation impediments such as delays at borders caused by the bureaucracy of goods and documentation checks as well as cash flow bottlenecks, Brexit and the ensuing coronavirus crisis have only made the sector’s chronic issues worse, meaning that more businesses will flock to solutions providers that promise to make operations easier.
Best case scenario, these macro factors could boost Beacon’s revenue, (sources close to the firm say they expect a five-fold growth this year as businesses seek to improve their logistics following COVID-19), all which could result in a great ROI for Bezos.
With coronavirus shutting down manufacturing hubs across the world, as businesses slowly get back to normal functionality, efficient transportation processes will be even more important to ensure their cash flow health and survival. The same goes for businesses affected by Brexit where import and export businesses will be keen to reduce their chances of delays at ports.
Making your startup more attractive to investment
While Bezos is known for his past investments in startups such as Airbnb, his Midas touch won’t reach every hot new organisation. What young firms starting out can do however, is make themselves the best candidates possible for dynamic investment.
In order to impress dynamic investors, a business needs to appear truly innovative. And if the hype around Beacon can be believed, that’s exactly what they are;
Via it’s one-platform technology, Beacon is disrupting the status quo of global logistics, which dominated by the likes of DHL, have been slow to embrace new technology. Like China’s leap frogging from a lack of banks to the sudden proliferation of digital banking in the early to mid noughties, Beacon has entered the analogue world of global logistics and has disrupted the sector with its technological offering. As an innovator himself who pioneered mainstream e-commerce culture with Amazon, it’s not surprising that Bezos saw Beacon’s global potential.
In this fraught economic climate, investors are looking for problem solvers, and appearing as a disruptive and innovative presence will make you stand out whether your business is enabling more efficient business transactions to take place, or is providing innovative solutions within an industry that requires disruption.
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