Changing the Game of Logistics … Boxc to CargoBeacon, Freightos and PiggyBee, Roadie and Shyp

May 10, 2020

The logistics business might not seem a natural place for disruption – its physical, process-driven and regulated (ships, rail, trucks, air). Yet there is a huge reluctance amongst big companies to change  – most live in the past, both in terms of technology and mindset, protecting the margins made through the frictions and inadequences of the existing ways of working.

Think about the potential of new technology platforms (like Uber), new smart systems (like Amazon), new technology capabilities (mobile, cloud, big data, AI, drones, robotics, and more), and new business models (like crowd-based funding).

In short, it’s a perfect industry for disruption.

“Industry 4.0” explores the convergence of man and machines, and in particular the potential for AI, robotics and much more to drive fundamental innovation:

Major players like DB Schenker have then created their own visions, showing how they plan to shape the industry to their own advantage:

In Asia, the dramatic growth in industrial production and consumerisation is driving logistics companies to “jump to the future” in embracing smart systems:

Whilst DHL has been creative in exploring new delivery concepts, in this case inspired by the emerging Hyperloop designs being explored across the world:

Here then is a summary of some of the more interesting start-ups, innovators and real “gamechangers” emerging in the world of logistics:

Transport systems

Matternet is a transportation system made up of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), landing stations and routing software. The system aims to transform the way we move goods locally, starting with the pharmaceutical delivery market in areas inaccessible by traditional infrastructure.

Freight rates

A website – and a network of freight forwarders – that provides automated freight quotes and a contract management system for shippers.

A website giving shippers and consignees a much-needed tool to easily compare shipping and transportation prices from freight forwarders. The startup is Copenhagen-based and so far they focus only on moves from Asia to Denmark. But the service is rock-solid, and will hopefully include all locations soon.

An end-to-end pricing tool and freight forwarding service offering best available prices for ocean and sea freight as well as international moves. With iContainers you can get a quote online instantly from multiple carriers.

Freight Filter
An easy-to-use service to help you find the best shipping options. It’s divided into three simple steps – get the price, book it, and ship.

A service that ads transparency to the shipping industry by enabling companies to benchmark their ocean freight rates. Useful for both importers, exporters and freight forwarders, e.g. for understanding the market and when negotiating prices.

Shippo is “shipping made easy”. With the Shippo API and apps you can get discounted shipping rates and labels within minutes. Shippo is basically selling discounted labels when connecting shopping cart apps with carriers such as DHL, FedEx and UPS – making things easier and cheaper for those who want to ship.

ShipHawk is a software solution that businesses can integrate into their shopping carts to provide buyers with the best option to ship any sized item, packed or unpacked. With ShipHawk, businesses and their customers access instant rate quotes for real items without having to figure out all of the details (traditional shipping solutions only provide estimates).

Veritread is a heavy haul (transportation of oversized cargo) marketplace through which shippers can connect with and get bids from trusted (verified) carriers in this highly specialised field.

An independent online platform where shippers can request quotes from a long list of freight forwarders. Once the quotes are in, shippers can compare, manage and book the shipments, ultimately helping them optimise their supply chain.

OpenSea is the first marketplace for ship chartering, enabling shippers to find the best matching vessels and cargoes at the best price – in effect connecting shippers and shipowners.

CargoHound is an online marketplace for international freight. Their tool connects exporters and importers with reliable freight forwarders and carriers – with the aim to reduce the time, cost and risk of shipping products internationally.

A platform for ad hoc freight where companies buy and manage freight services from pre-screened providers. It operates as a global network of providers that gives companies access to air freight services.

Shipwaves is an end-to-end online ocean logistics platform catering to the needs of importers and exporters from India and globally in the near future. Shipwaves enables you to compare ocean freight rates and book your shipment online.


Has developed a shipping container folding/nesting technology that removes the air from empty shipping containers so you can move 5 empty shipping containers in the same space as 1.

Holland Container Innovations
As Staxxon, also folding containers. But focused on the 40 foot containers instead of the 20 foot product market.

Crowd shipping

A crowd shipping service. PiggyBee connects people who want to get or ship something with travelers.

A crowd shipping app focused on getting friends to ship for you when they travel.

A crowd shipping service enabling you to either send or bring stuff locally. So far there’s more than 50.000 Nimbers and counting. Nimber – previously Easybring – is based in Norway and so far operates in Northern Europe, incl. the UK.

User’s first stab at a global logistics service – so far only available in Hong Kong. With UberCARGO, a van arrives wherever you want it to be in minutes. You can load your items in the back of the van yourself or request the driver’s assistance. Deliveries can be tracked in real-time through the app, the item’s location can be shared with the recipient and, if you want to, you can choose to ride along with your goods.

Roadie is a neighbour-to-neighbour shipping network. Users create a ‘gig’, i.e. a shipment or delivery, which is then matched with another Roadie user headed in the right direction. Or as they say: “It’s like carpooling for cargo. Simple, safe and fun!”

End-to-end shipping

A mobile app and service aiming to ease up the on-demand shipping experience. A ‘Shyp Hero’ comes to you, collects your items, then takes them away to be professionally packed and shipped to their destination.

“ShipBob is shipping made uber simple.” After you’ve scheduled a pickup a Ship Captain will pick up your item in less than 30 minutes. ShipBob will then – for a pickup and packaging fee of 5 USD – package and ship the item using the lowest cost option.

Flexport is an end-to-end freight forwarding solution in the form of an online dashboard. Here, you can request a freight quote, compare your options, book your shipment as well as track and manage your shipments. Flexport’s services include air freight, ocean freight, trucking, fulfillment, and cargo insurance. The startup has been backed by leading angel investors such as Google Ventures, Bloomberg BETA and First Round Capital.


An enterprise logistics platform from which you can handle all your logistics needs in the cloud, incl. warehousing, processing, shipping and sales channels.

Cloud Fulfillment
Cloud Fulfilment is a UK-based storage outsourcing solution for smaller businesses. Cloud Fulfilment also handles order processing and delivery requirements.

Shotput is a freight, inventory and customer order platform in one place – with the clear goal to simplify fulfillment. Users connect their e-commerce site to Shotput who then picks them up at the factory and delivers to the end-customers.

Fleet Management

Local Motion
A car fleet management system for companies making it easy to share vehicles and monitor the fleet after installation of an onboard module.

MuniRent brings the sharing economy to government by enabling heavy duty equipment sharing between public agencies, e.g. the sharing of excavators, street sweepers etc. between cities. MuniRent’s solution can be used for both internal sharing (within large cities) and regional sharing (between cities).

Local delivery

Boxc offers cheap 3-5 day international shipping to US buyers, and accept returns at a US address. Boxc achieves this by aggregating shipments, and choosing the optimal carrier for each leg of the journey.

A crowd based local delivery app. Get your groceries delivered by a real person.

A local, on-demand FedEx in the SF Bay area, starting with restaurant food delivery, incl. areas where most restaurants didn’t deliver.

An on-demand US delivery service, much like Zipments and Postmates. Deliv connects retailers, shoppers and drivers and provides same-day delivery of customers’ online orders.

A local delivery solution for businesses in San Francisco. Rickshaw relies on a flexible delivery fleet through which businesses get their ‘own’ branded couriers at an affordable price. Among other things, Rickshaw is used for delivery of laundry, gifts, meal subscriptions, and produce boxes.

Hand-delivery of packages in New York for those who don’t have a doorman. Instead of shipping to their home address, users ship to Parcel who then delivers when they’re actually home (usually in the evening).


A remote controlled lock and mobile app enabling users to store locally instead of using warehouses.

An on-demand storage solution. MakeSpace provides pickup, urban storage, and on-demand retrieval.

On people are brought together to provide a common sense self-storage solution – using space such as the attic, garage, basement, or spare room in the back-office. On the website you can either find or add storage space.

Store your keys securely at the local cafe and exchange them remotely with your home-rental guests via the app. Keycafe is not classic ‘storage’ but about managing access to your home remotely.

Shop online and ship your packages to a Swapbox located nearby. It’s a modern, always-open postoffice. You get notified via email and/or text message when your packages arrive.


A platform that provides shippers with instant access and real-time visibility to trucks around them via mobile app and cloud-based software.

A cloud app for trucking business management, giving instant insight into business KPIs, fleet and human resources. The app also provides you business optimization recommendations.

A mobile app for drivers to track their driving logs. And for dispatchers to manage their drivers.
A social network dedicated to truck drivers. On the platform they can do everything from locating their colleagues on the road, plan their trips, and sell, buy and find loads.

An online international shipping marketplace where transporters compete for your shipments. You can ship anything – standard shipments, household goods, vehicles etc. According to uShip, their model means savings of up to 80% on national and international transport. Transporters also benefit by getting more business. And it’s a more sustainable solution too as it helps fill empty trucks.

Transfix is an app for interstate truck drivers, allowing them to plan their trip, manage their loads, and get paid. The platform acts as a freight marketplace matching truckers with shippers.

Got Freight
A mobile app that enables customers and carriers to submit and track deliveries in real time. With the app you can see your truck delivery from pickup to drop off. Also, you can leave carrier feedback.

A platform that connects freight forwarders with local carriers to improve freight forwards local network and flexibility while providing local carriers with additional volume.

A UK-based startup aiming to reduce empty freight runs by providing transparency. TrucksOnTheMap have created a “TimeMachine” to look for empty trucks at any time, anywhere on a online map. TrucksOnTheMap is the first truck-availability-map which visualises all your and your haulier’s free trucks in the future, for a much quicker and more efficient truck booking.


Ghostruck is a mobile app that matches you with a Ghostruck-approved mover. You can move almost anything, only using your smart phone. Take a photo of your stuff, describe what you need, and Ghostruck will find a driver – a professional mover – going your way.

Bellhops is a moving company made up of 8,000+ students in 121 US cities. In other words: Instead of hiring an expensive, inflexible moving company, you book on-demand through Bellhops and a number of local (affordable) students will come help you.

Lugg is an app-based on-demand moving company in the Bay Area. Set up the pick-up location using the map and add a photo of what you want to move, then Lugg promises to have two movers and a truck en route instantly.

Schlep is an on-demand moving service connecting users in need of moving assistance with a reliable, local “Schlepper.” Schlep maintains a network of movers serving the Chicago metropolitan area. A user simply requests a Schlep, submits some preliminary information (day, time, number and size of items, pick-up and drop-off destinations, etc.), and waits for the schlepper to arrive (with coffee, if desired). The cost of a Schlep generally ranges from $50 to $150.


CargoBeacon an affordable and easy-to-use logger device connected to an app and a portal. It enables you to monitor how your valuable cargo is doing. Simply place the logger with your cargo before you ship. The logger then communicates with your mobile device and to the globally available CargoBeacon Portal.

Latest reports

Fast Company‘s annual World’s Most Innovative Companies ranking includes the 10 Most Innovative in Logistics including

  • Attabotics … for saving thousands of square feet in warehouse space using vertical 3D robotic systems
  • Footprint … for making compostable, recycled packaging solutions for everything from TVs to frozen dinners
  • Target … for using retail stores to make same-day delivery its most appealing (and profitable) online-shopping option

StartUs Insights have just produced a great report: Top 10 Logistics Industry Trends & Innovations: 2020 & Beyond

Transmetrics have produced a similar report: Top 10 Supply Chain and Logistics Technology Trends in 2020

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