Meet the company: Supply chain tech startup firm project44

By Kate Birch
Logistics startups like project44 are thriving, as the once-overlooked supply chain technology sector gets the investor attention it finally deserves

Where there is chaos, there is an opportunity, a wise man once said. And nowhere does this ring more true than the current supply chain crisis. 

As global supply chain chaos, brought on by the effects of COVID-19, continues to impact organisations, smart solutions that help build more resilient supply chains are arriving thick and fast. 

And it’s not just the global consultancies providing the solutions, with many bolstering their supply chain capabilities with acquisitions. The tech startup ecosystem is also delivering. 

Investment in supply chain tech is booming

And investors are falling over themselves to get in on the supply chain tech action, flooding these smart logistics startups with investment. 

This once overlooked sector is now in the spotlight, with supply-chain technology startups raising US$24.3bn in venture funding in the first three quarters of 2021, 58% more than full-year total for 2020, according to data from PitchBook. 

This outpouring of investment has resulted in the birth of a flock of new unicorns, startups valued at more than US$1bn, with 2021 delivering, among others, ecommerce fulfilment specialist ShipBob, digital warehouse and distribution provider Store and Flock Freight, and supply chain visibility platform provider project44. 

How project44 is leading on supply chain visibility

Born in 2014, in Chicago, the logistics capital of the world and one of the fastest-growing tech hubs, project44 is one of the supply chain tech startups that has got investors excited.

The only 100% digital supply chain visibility provider, project44 secured unicorn status in May last year, when following a Series E funding round where it netted US$200m, it hit a valuation of US$1.2bn. 

And just six months later, in January 2022, the startup received a further injection of investment, US$420m, led by investors Thoma Bravo, TPG and Goldman Sachs, achieving a valuation of US$2.2bn and setting a funding record for logistics tech enterprise SaaS companies.

project44’s record-shattering investment speaks not just to the fact that supply chain visibility has become increasingly important as shortages, delays and bottlenecks ramp up, but to the platform’s differentiation and immense lead in the supply chain visibility space. 

Its founder and CEO, Jett McCandless, had spent the previous two decades in supply chains seeing first-hand the daily problems in the logistics and delivery space, and believed that by leveraging tech, he could help to increase the predictability, efficiency, agility and resilience of global supply chains. 

He was right. Powering real-time-transparent and optimised shipping experiences, project44 helps businesses to optimise the movement of products across supply chains, delivering better resiliency, sustainability and value. 

As McCandless puts it, we are “helping companies solve supply chain challenges ranging from inflationary pressure and lockdowns to unpredictable weather and bottlenecks at ports”

 

project44 plans to double investment in product and engineering

And the platform’s success speaks for itself. In the last two quarters of 2021, project44 saw year-on-year bookings increase 170%, and is now generating more than US$100m in annual recurring revenue, making it the largest generation 2 logistics tech in the world and cementing its position as the number one company in supply chain visibility. 

In 2021, project44 added five new executives to the team to manage its growing footprint, which now spans 166 countries and 17 global offices, including a chief marketing officer, chief people officer, chief brand officer and its first director of diversity, equity, inclusion and culture. 

The company also made a number of smart acquisitions to make it even more attractive to shippers, snapping up Convey, to help project44 extend real-time visibility and exception management to last-mile delivery; Ocean Insights to bring much-demand visibility into cargo at sea; and ClearMetal, which has helped establish project44 as the leader in AI and machine learning with automation that reduces costs throughout the supply chain. 

To build on its success, project44 plans to nearly double its investment in product and engineering in 2022 to deliver improved pal-time visibility across more modes of transportation in more regions. It also plans to expand its international footprint and boost its 1000-strong global team with hundreds of new hires across China, Europe, Latin America, North America and Japan. 

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