Logistics Startup Project44 Raises A $45M Series C

Illustration of delivery boxes outside a door. [Li Anne Dias]

Chicago-based freight tracking company project44 raised $45 million in a Series C round.

With over $90 million in total outside venture funding, project44 is now the shipping, logistics, or supply chain management startup with the highest amount of VC backing operating in Chicago today.

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Using project44’s APIs, shippers and third-party logistics firms are able to plan, track, and confirm freight shipments—ranging from individual parcels shipped by truck to other goods shipped by rail or over water—within the United States and, increasingly, internationally as well. This API-driven approach aims to replace antiquated electronic data interchange systems and paperwork.

The Deal

Two new investors committed capital in this round. Sapphire Ventures led the charge and Insight Venture Partners joined existing investors 8VC, Chicago Ventures, Emergence Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners, and Pritzker Group Venture Capital.

Kevin Diestel, a partner at Sapphire Ventures, will join project44’s board of directors.

Project44 intends to use this additional capital to invest in “new product initiatives in advanced visibility,” continue growing in its core North American market, and kick off international expansion. These stated goals remain largely unchanged since April.

The company hasn’t publicly disclosed its valuation or other terms of the deal. Its post-money valuation following its April Series B round was “over $100 million,” according to a Wall Street Journal source. A representative for the company said its valuation is “significantly higher” from its springtime Series B, in part because project44 experienced “520 [percent] new customer growth” since its last round.

The company said that the last quarter brought record growth for the company. Although project44 didn’t disclose details about its current revenue numbers, its revenues grew by 446 percent over a twelve-month period ending April 2018. The company targeted $5 million in revenue for 2016, according to reporting by Crain’s at the time.

At $45 million, this Series C is large for the Chicago market. And with $80 million raised in disclosed venture funding so far this year, project44 is second only to cancer data analytics company Tempus in venture capital fundraising in 2018. Tempus raised a cumulative $190 million so far this year between its Series D and Series E rounds, which were also announced just a few months apart.

The Growing Pains

According to a statement provided by the company, it is currently the fastest-growing player in the “transportation visibility market,” which includes logistics tracking and analytics offerings from Chicago-based rival FourKites, 10-4 Systems (acquired by Trimble), and Macropoint (acquired by Descartes Systems).

Growing quickly has been a bit of a bumpy road, though. Project44 CEO Jett McCandless told Crunchbase News in an email, “the most challenging element of growing so rapidly has been hiring the right talent fast enough, which is a challenge for all technology companies, especially in today’s job market.

Historically, project44 has seen high-turnover, even by startup standards, based on LinkedIn data and speaking with people aware of the matter at the company.

“To address that,” McCandless told Crunchbase News, “we have strategically grown our recruiting strategy and rapidly matured the talent management function within the organization. Our commitment is to hire the right people regardless of how long it takes.” The company has opened over 50 positions it said it can fill within the next three months.

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