The Colombian trucking and logistics services startup Liftit has raised $22.5 million in a new round of funding to capitalize on its newfound traction in markets across Latin America as responses to the COVID-19 epidemic bring changes to the industry across the region.
“We’re focusing on the five countries that we’re already in,” says Liftit chief executive Brian York.
The company recently hired a head of operations for Mexico and a head of operations for Brazil as it looks to double down on its success in both regions.
Funding for the round was led by Cambridge Capital and included investments from the new Latin American-focused firm H20 Capital along with AC Ventures, the venture arm of the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in LatAm; 10x Capital, Banyan Tree Ventures, Alpha4 Ventures, the lingerie brand Leonisa; and Mexico’s largest long-haul trucking company, Grupo Transportes Monterrey. Individual investor Jason Radisson, the former chief operating officer of the on-demand ride hailing startup 99, also invested.
The new capital comes on top of Liftit’s $14.3 million Series A from some of the region’s top local investors. Firms like Monashees, Jaguar Ventures and NXTP Ventures all joined the International Finance Corp. in financing the company previously and all returned to back the company again with its new funding.
Investors likely responded to the company’s strong performance in its core markets. Already profitable in Chile and Colombia, Liftit expects to reach profitability across all of its operations before the end of the year. That’s despite the global pandemic.
Of the 220 contracts the company had with shippers, half of them went to zero and the other half spiked significantly, York said. While Liftit’s major Colombian customer stumbled, new business, like Walmart, saw huge spikes in deliveries and usage.
“Managing truck drivers is incredibly difficult, and trucking, in our opinion, is not on-demand,” said York. “At the end of the day the trucking market in all of Latin America is a majority of independent owners. They’re not looking for on-demand work… they’re looking for full-time work.”
Less than 1% of the company’s deliveries come from on-demand orders; instead, it’s a service comprised of scheduled shipments with optimized routes and efficiencies that are bringing customers to Liftit’s virtual door.
“We do scheduled trucking delivery so we integrate with existing systems that shippers have and start planning how many trucks they’re going to need and the routes they’re going to take and … tee it up exactly what is going to happen regardless what the traffic conditions are so we have been able to reduce the delivery times for the trucks,” said York.